By Jim Beard
In February’s SECRET AVENGERS #22, new series writer Rick Remender begins to reveal the sinister secret that lies at the center of the world: the Descendants. Hyper-evolved from the Marvel Universe’s most famous robots and androids by the enigmatic Father, these new “races” will challenge the Avengers like no foe before them. This series of week-long “sneak-peeks” will reveal for the first time each species of Descendants through extensive notes and Remender’s commentary.
When one considers the robotic races that have existed over the years, one must take into account the individuals known as cyborgs, a combination of man and machine. Though they, by their very nature, do not rate on the evolutionary path of true artificial intelligences, a few rare examples make for fascinating study.
The cybernetic-human confluence known as Deathlok began life as soldier Luther Manning, reputedly of an alternate future time. Grafted with robotic accoutrements, Manning’s standing as a proposed “super soldier” put him into many situations that a normal human could never survive.
The Deathlok cyborg somehow made its way to our own present-day reality and, its military programming more or less intact, set out to stem the tide of events that made his own reality a wasteland. In doing so, he partnered with several of Earth’s costumed champions and eventually completed his “mission.” Since that time, other Deathloks have appeared, most likely inspired by the original cyborg and its successful programming.
Deathloks score high on adaptability to extreme environments and in use of advanced military ordnance. Their programming may be described as “single-minded.”
Yuriko Oyama’s body became a synthesis of human flesh and reportedly-indestructible adamantium metal through a process designed by her scientist father. Now known as Lady Deathstrike, she represents a virtual cyborg “killing machine” that possesses the ability to interface with any computer and sports claw-like appendages from her fingers. These she uses to combat enemies like the mutant Wolverine and his fellow X-Men.
Deathstrike’s mercenary tendencies lead her to strange alliances, more often than not with allies that do not appreciate what her father created within her; one could almost call her a beautiful melding of woman and technology. Deathstrike’s past partners include other cyborgs, such as the group of criminals called the Reavers.
“In UNCANNY X-FORCE, we’ve recently seen a band of Deathloks from a future where Deathloks win out and took down the super-humans and acclimated them to the Deathlok program,” explains SECRET AVENGERS writer Remender. “They made everyone easily controlled and removed the chaos factor from life in the Marvel Universe. Those Deathloks were created using the body of another Deathlok from another timeline that was created by Roxxon. That technology was then acclimated by Father and hyper-evolved in The World and then used. We saw that version of Father killed by Deadpool and those Deathloks disappeared.
“Without getting too much into the time travel stuff and spoil all that fun, I will say that the Deathloks as a species are sort of loyal guard dogs to Father. He very carefully selects the bodies of people turned into Deathloks and uses them to serve him. They are sentient but unquestioning in their service to Father. That wouldn’t include Deathlok Prime, who was made by Roxxon in an alternate timeline.”
The writer also notes that Deathstrike and the Reavers return in SECRET AVENGERS, as part of the Descendants storyline.
“The Reavers in their origins were never made very clear,” he says. “They hated mutants but we never really found out why. In terms of what their motives were and why they hated mutants so much, there were obviously a few things hinted at, but we’re going to show why they were built and by whom. In UNCANNY X-FORCE #5.1 we saw Deathstrike talk about the coming revolution. At this point, her body has been rebuilt and destroyed so many times she’s more machine than anything else. Her consciousness has remained intact and with Father’s help, she has become even more evolved and we’ll see exactly what she’s capable up in upcoming issues. She is Father’s right-hand woman. If you were going to make an analogy to old X-Men comics, she’d be Wolverine to Father’s Cyclops, back when those guys were still working together.
|SECRET AVENGERS #22 preview art by Gabriel Hardman|
“We saw her working with the Reavers when the X-Men lived in Australia. We saw them come back as a force with Donald Pierce and kick the [expletive] out of them. The Reavers hate mutants, they just hate them. When you mix in Cole and Reese, some of the Hellfire guys who were turned into cyborgs after being cut into pieces by Wolverine, their motives are a little more clean and clear. I looked to make this something that fits in with their history. Deathstrike had worked with the Reavers at this point in time; things have changed and she has higher goals now. She still has a real hatred for Wolverine, but her bigger goal here is to serve Father and the plot they’re working on is to see the Descendants rise. The rise of the Descendants might go further than people expect it to, I’ll say that.
“They’re all very smart. They’re all self-aware and sentient and have personalities. They’re all well aware of where they came from. They all have somewhat common goals. We’ll be exploring that in the first SECRET AVENGERS arc and that’ll spill over into some UNCANNY X-FORCE fun.”