Aspin-off of Marvel Comics' Hydra, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) is an organization whose mission is to foment global revolution via high-tech weaponry—while at the same time turning a tidy profit by selling that selfsame gadgetry to rogue nations and lawless individuals determined to wreak havoc around the world. A.I.M. is a coterie of technocratic anarchists—brilliant but amoral scientists and their hired henchmen—bent on overthrowing every government on Earth through super-technological means. Headquartered on the remote island of Boca Caliente, A.I.M. boasts a global network of some 1,500 operatives, strategically placed to create trouble for a list of adversaries that includes Captain America, S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Man, Quasar, the first Ms. Marvel, and even the Incredible Hulk. Among A.I.M.'s membership requirements are a master's degree or Ph.D. in the sciences or business, along with a fervent belief in the ideology of global technocracy. During the debut appearance of A.I.M. in Strange Tales vol. 1 #146 (1966), writer Stan Lee and illustrators Jack Kirby and Don Heck gave the world its first glimpse of A.I.M.'s techno-villains, whose initial preoccupation is android-building and whose bucket-headed yellow uniforms evoke images of Chernobyl beekeepers. A.I.M.'s origins remained vague at first, but eventually stood revealed as stretching back to Nazi Germany, where the group's founder Baron Wolfgang von Strucker used the organization as the legitimate business front for Hydra, an umbrella organization that was forced underground at the end of World War II. Operating more or less in plain sight as an international technology merchant—developing everything from advanced lasers to space vehicles— A.I.M. kept its subversive goals concealed for decades as its scientists pushed the boundaries of numerous scientific disciplines, such as bioengineering, bionics, physics, and robotics. All the while, A.I.M. functioned as the covert research division of Hydra, its equally covert parent organization, and even managed to become an important contractor of the U.S. government. A.I.M.'s nefarious nature was finally exposed after its plot to disgrace S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, thereby forcing him from his job, backfired. Being thoroughgoing fanatics, A.I.M.'s members generally prefer death to capture. The group's leader, known as the Scientist Supreme, transformed one such rank-and-file A.I.M. member into MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), a mutated creature with an atrophied body and a giant brain capable of various psionic feats, including telekinesis. MODOK soon killed the Scientist Supreme, taking his place, and established A.I.M.'s independence from the already-vanquished Hydra. A.I.M.'s other seminal superscientific creations include the Super-Adaptoid, an android capable of mimicking both the appearance and abilities of its costumed adversaries, and the Cosmic Cube, a “wishing” machine able to rewrite reality itself. During later years, A.I.M. splintered into multiple power blocs, a development that led to MODOK's eventual ouster from the group, with the assistance of an allied evil organization, the snakethemed Serpent Squad. The sundered A.I.M. factions eventually reconciled, with MODOK taken prisoner and conditioned to obey the wishes of A.I.M.'s board of directors. Following a major defeat at the hands of Iron Man and turncoat A.I.M. member Clytemnestra Erwin, A.I.M. employed MODOK more as a CEO than as an iron-fisted technoconqueror; realizing that supervillainous tactics can be all but fruitless in a twenty-first-century milieu in which corporate power has become the coin of the realm, MODOK has set A.I.M.'s sights on becoming the next Microsoft. While A.I.M. has by no means “gone legit,” its leaders now consult the Wall Street Journal as often as they crack their supervillain handbooks.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.