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. 

X-51, the so-called “Machine Man,” arose from a desire for the perfect soldier, but evolved into one of the most adaptable and enigmatic artificial beings in modern times. Possessing perhaps the closest robotic approximation of a human personality, with all its inherent foibles and inconsistencies, X-51 represents one of the strongest cases for continued advancement in the field.

Imagined, designed, built and activated for the United States Army, X-51 exceeded its programming and came to act as a kind-of surrogate child to its creator, Dr. Abel Stack. The robot escaped what it deemed captivity after Stack’s death and inaugurated its first self-motivated step towards the facsimile of humanity: it took on a human face and name.

The story stands as an eternal one: the artificial boy seeks to understand its creator and assimilate itself into his species, in this case Homo sapiens. As “Aaron Stack,” X-51 fell into a long string of activity as a costumed adventurer, battling menaces to the humans he professed to admire and acting as their champion. He proved fairly adept in this role and even struck up relationships with several super heroes. The next great leap of X-51’s search for understanding of the human condition arrived in the form of another sentient robot, Jocasta, whom “Aaron” claimed he “loved.”

Past that point in the robot’s development, the history becomes unclear and somewhat obscured. The team of heroes called the Avengers honored X-51 with reservist status, yet later revoked it. Then, a meeting with the mutant population, represented by the X-Men, led to X-51’s cerebral cortex being tainted by mutant-hunting Sentinel programming, an event which may begin to explain the robot’s current erratic behavior. How else to account for an artificial man with a taste for alcoholic beverages and a penchant for violent speech laced with profanity?

SECRET AVENGERS #22 preview art by Gabriel Hardman

Of late, X-51 has been linked with such organizations as H.A.T.E. and A.R.M.O.R. and continues to present a very atypical picture of a traditional robotic entity. Overall, the drive for self-expression and freedom of movement stands as the robot’s most compelling offering to the evolution of artificial intelligence.

“Neurotic,” say SECRET AVENGERS writer Rick Remender of Machine Man’s Descendants, the Machine People, whom he further calls “the Woody Allen of robot species.”

“There are so many of them,” he notes. “The set piece for the SECRET AVENGERS story is a city called The Core. The Core is a moon that is in the center of the Earth’s iron core. It’s where all of the robots have been living for many, many years. It’s where the Descendants have been thriving and procreating away from humanity. The Machine People are a large portion of the general population of the core. They are all highly intelligent and a bit nuts.”

Stay tuned to all week for more of the Father Files to learn the secrets of the Descendants!

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