Marvel Sketch Cover Madness: Deathlok! Plus iPad Rollouts!

Something old meets something new.

Something old meets something new.

I am a huge fan of the old Deathlok material from the seventies. In the 1970’s, bionics were the cool, science filled way to have superpowers. On top of that, Deathlok was from an apocalyptic future, run by evil corporations. There was so much that was cool about it, I’m surprised that it never took off except as a niche thing.

Now, Marvel is looking to make Deathlok a Big Thing. Almost the entirety of the first season of Agents of SHIELD was dedicated to gradually making the character of Mike Petersen into Deathlok, and now there is a new Marvel book with a new character that is at least visually aligned to the new, film friendly version. The sketch cover is for that book, which was…okay. The problem that I had was simple…I am more or less used to previous iterations of the Deathlok concept. Picking up the new book, which was decently well executed, was just…awkward. Like drinking someone else’s coffee.

The uncropped sketch cover.

The uncropped sketch cover.

Still, the book dropped at a timely point in the school year. The new iPad distribution is happening the day of this post, and to a large degree, academics are grinding to a halt in order to fit the needs of the costly project. Problems with the distribution abound. The machines are brand new, and no properly provisioned to be customized for students. Our IT Coordinator is taking a “Walden Week,” not only away from campus, but unreachable by any modern tech. The student paperwork to even allow them to receive the machines in the first place is often incomplete. Multiple e-mails and announcements happen daily to support the project.

I’m not sure how the actual “rollout” will go. A large amount of time, energy, and man hours of labor have been put in on it, that I can’t be certain were really necessary, but I respect nonetheless. It seems to me that this was a great deal of effort for a technology that has dubious classroom virtue, at least to me. There is no digital textbook from Pearson, there are no clear guidelines or curricula of usage for my content. The effort that was levied on it could just have easily been put to something more valuable, and more credible as a classroom asset.

That’s what the art was about, and it was fun to draw, at least. Our hero and November Pony skeptical, as all that fancy looking science goes into firing up an Apple endorsed Deathlok.

I don’t see why we replaced the units so soon. The new iPad Air units aren’t significantly better or more powerful, especially for the purposes to which we are applying them. I for one, would like to hang on to my old iPad (teachers are, for now at least) because that is the machine that I have come to use and rely on in its current configuration, for the purposes of grades and attendance.

That feeling produced this piece of companion art, drawn over lunch with some students:

A collection of out of date robots: Threepio, Skeets, Herbie, Seven, and a Robo-Pony.  They just want to stay useful.

A collection of out of date robots: Threepio, Skeets, Herbie, Seven, and a Robo-Pony. They just want to stay useful.

This is actually an important issue in ethics for the coming time frame. As we invent socially assistive robots, AI programs, and robotic companions, how we are judged as a people may very well be derived by how we treat our creations. When a new model comes out, do we dispose of that companion, or trade it in? Do we immediately upgrade the device that has been a loyal and trusted assistant? Right now, the devices are not advanced enough for the issue to matter, but as they do become more advanced, more legitimately intelligent…are we not obligated to treat machines with less of a “disposable” thought process?

Right now, I want to hang onto my particular iPad because the machine is reliable, and I value reliability. It’s the same reason I hold onto old computers until they cease working, or a plethora of other machines. The virtue of reliability is important to me, and it seems to me that an old robot would be a reliable one, at the tasks that it was designed for.

To coin a phrase, “People often confuse new and improved.”

Next Issue: More of the Anti-Bullying Campaign!

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