Monday, January 2, 2017

And You Think Your Relationship Is Complicated

With all the A.I. devices in comics that have run amok in one way or another, you'd think that Marvel characters would take a few precautions in their blueprints, especially when they're designing breakthrough technology. Take Bruce Banner, for example. Many scientists who want to keep a record of their studies or research progress keep a journal, or make recordings, or have an assistant taking notes--but while the solitary Banner prefers his research to be documented by a recording device, he also feels it should have a mind of its own.

There would probably be any number of assistants lining up with notebooks in hand who would jump at the chance to work alongside Bruce Banner if only to document his research--but clearly Banner prefers to dictate to a hovering, interactive recording assistant that conforms to his specifications. And if loneliness was his primary motivation for giving it artificial intelligence, I don't think I want to know what other specifications he's programmed into this thing, if you catch my drift.

And so the "recordasphere" remains content in its interaction with and service to Banner--that is, until the arrival of Katherine Waynesboro, a research assistant recommended by S.H.I.E.L.D. If you hear the acronym "S.H.I.E.L.D." mentioned in any context, it often doesn't bode well; indeed, where the recordasphere is concerned, Dr. Waynesboro's addition to the team isn't exactly a welcome one. Especially considering that we now discover the recordasphere has had a certain pronoun attached to it.

Further tremors of discontent are to come, and soon, as Dr. Waynesboro becomes a sympathetic figure in the book who certainly isn't the first woman to become attracted to a man like Banner, a tragic scientist who practically cries out for sympathy and support at the circumstances of his life. Unfortunately, Dr. Waynesboro isn't the only figure at the observatory that wishes to provide those services to Banner.

We see that the recordasphere has not only dropped the formalities with her--eh, its--creator, but also is obviously now obsessed with perceiving their relationship association as exclusive. Racing off undetected and breaking in to Waynesboro's quarters in search of anything suspicious, the recordasphere uncovers a holographic log that appears to implicate her in being planted at the observatory by SHIELD as a spy. Yet the recordasphere decides to withhold what it's uncovered, believing that Banner distrusts Waynesboro (because of how negatively she feels about the Hulk) and that Banner might come to the point of dismissing her on his own.

But when Waynesboro displays obvious intentions of growing closer to Banner--perhaps, to the recordasphere's way of thinking, in an effort to fulfill her "mission"--all bets are off for the recordasphere as far as its decision to remain a passive observer and bide its time. And Waynesboro becomes upgraded from merely a "rival" to a fatality.

Luckily, Waynesboro has only been badly shaken up by the experience but otherwise unharmed--with the end result being that Banner has come to realize how strongly he feels about her, and now returns her feelings for him more demonstrably.

From there, we can make a reasonable guess as to how things are going to go from here. In any soap opera, there is the inevitable confrontation between two rivals for a man's affections, with usually both women knowing it's time to put their cards on the table. The difference here is that, for one thing, only one of these rivals is a woman (not to mention a human)--but also, there's one of them who doesn't realize that she even has a rival.

Unfortunately, Waynesboro has just confirmed exactly what the recordasphere had accused her of, even though the phrasing of her reply was intended as a denial. She's definitely "spying" on Banner for SHIELD--and it's due to SHIELD's concern that Banner might revert to the monster he was before he gained control of the Hulk. Only the recordasphere appears to realize her slip-up--but chances are that this conversation would have escalated regardless, given the admission that the recordasphere now blurts out.

Fortunately for Waynesboro, the recordasphere's moments are numbered--thanks to M.O.D.O.K. (another acronym that usually implies trouble), who has unleashed the Abomination on the Hulk. Banner would normally make for an easy target for this creature who would prefer not to get another pounding from the Hulk--but the recordasphere defends its creator (Banner even armed this thing?) and pays the price.

Uh, Dr. Banner? Why the forlorn look over a device you can easily rebuild?

For what it's worth to the recordasphere, Waynesboro would soon be out of the picture when SHIELD's fears over Banner would turn out to be well-founded, and Bruce Banner would be lost to her--seemingly forever. Perhaps it's best that the recordasphere is no longer with us, since a grieving, sobbing recording device is something I'm sure we can all do without. In the meantime, perhaps we can take a lesson from the recordasphere and refrain from investing our tools with artificial intelligence, given the inherent problems that could result if...

Well, some kazillionaires are just going to blunder ahead anyway, aren't they.


Warren JB said...

I was a bit unconvinced by the 'bannertech' machines in World War Hulks, as if every scientist character in the Marvel U had to be a polymath with an IQ in quadruple figures. In other words, as if they all had to be a Reed Richards.

But at least the bannertech had a precedent. It helps. I think.

It might've helped more if it hadn't gone all Glenn Close.

Comicsfan said...

Well, the recordasphere just didn't want to be IGNORED, Warren. ;)

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