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Webcomic / Artifice

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Now, where would this fall on the Kinsey Scale?

"Actually I prefer the term... inhuman."

A completed webcomic by author Alex Woolfson and artist Winona Nelson, which ran from March 2011 to March 2012. One of four finalists for the 26TH Annual Lambda Literary Awards in the "Graphic Novel" category. It can be found here.

It was supposed to be a routine "clean-up" mission on the isolated colony Da Vinci Four, but Deacon, a prototype android soldier, has failed spectacularly. Not only did he disobey orders, letting a 19-year-old business liability named Jeff survive, he also attacked and killed those who were sent to help him. Now, the brilliant and uncompromising robopsychologist Clarice Maven has been summoned by the Corporation to determine why.

With Deacon at her absolute mercy, Maven will find out exactly what happened between the android and this boy—and she will use her terrible power to make sure Deacon never fails the Corporation ever again.


  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Word of God says that this is what Deacon is afraid of.
  • All There in the Manual: According to comments left by alex in the comments section, the other four Deacon-lookalike androids all have names starting with "D" as well, though he hasn't yet revealed what exactly those names are.
  • And I Must Scream: Thanks to his immobilization codes, Deacon was paralyzed, helpless as the man he loved was knocked unconscious, then thrown into a cell when he laid inert on the floor for three days, having nothing but part of the wall and worrying about Jeff to occupy the time until his battery died. Yeesh.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Subverted. The corp's marketing pitches this idea to the public to make them more comfortable about androids. But behind closed doors they treat them as tools and weapons.
  • Anti-Hero: Deacon shows contempt for humanity and has, in the words of another (more famous) android, "done questionable things" in the service of his masters
  • Artificial Human: Deacon looks and, for the most part acts, completely human, even though he rejects the term.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Deacon is an android soldier.
  • Berserk Button: Maven gets pissed when Deacon tries to steer the flow of conversation during their session, or when he tries (tries) to outsmart her with vague answers.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The security guard does this in the opening, with predictable results.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Seems to be what runs the company. They will even order mass-murder to prevent the leakage of compromising information that could threaten their stock price.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Deacon.
  • Didn't See That Coming: It never occurred to Maven (or anyone else) that since Deacon knows his own override codes (he has to be able to respond to them after all), he could tell somebody else, like Jeff, what they were so that Jeff could invoke them to order Deacon to rescue to him. Maven also failed to foresee that all Deacon needed to do was prevent her from speaking in order to render her incapable of giving him commands.
  • Do Androids Dream? and Just a Machine: Two security guards taunt Deacon in the opening scene, referring to him as just "an appliance."
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Jeff seems to have shades of this, twice employing the word "freaking" when an f-bomb would seem less shoehorned by comparison.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: While trying to protect Jeff, Deacon attacks members of the recovery team with... other members of the recovery team.
  • Grow Beyond Their Programming: Deacon learning what it is to be in love, and to have that overcome his design to follow orders dispassionately.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: The colonists of Da Vinci Four. Even Maven notes with some disdain that people from the outer colonies are often socially "regressive".
  • In Medias Res: The story opens after Deacon has left Da Vinci Four. We find out what happened there as he tells his story to Dr. Maven.
  • Leave No Survivors: Deacon's team's orders, and nobody seems to see anything wrong with that.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Deacon estimates the odds that he and Jeff survive as 1,732,413:1. Subverted in that he's just pulling those numbers out of his ass.
  • MegaCorp: The corporation that created Deacon has its own military, makes its own rules and has seemingly endless resources.
  • One-Word Title: Presumably referencing the "Artificial" bit of their Artificial Humans...
  • Psycho Psychologist: Even taking into account that Deacon has killed several people, the pleasure Maven seems to take in being especially vindictive towards him is unprofessional to say the least.
  • Robosexual: Android soldier Deacon has a romance with a human, Jeff. Although Deacon is the one who initiates the relationship, Jeff quickly comes to enjoy it as well. Seeing how he had been treated up until then, he might just fall for the hot, muscular guy that actually is interested in him for once.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Understanding what went wrong with Deacon is important to the corp only inasmuch as he is a very expensive construct. Plus, their androids have now reached a level of sophistication that they can no longer simply troubleshoot their hardware and software. Deacon is undergoing psychoanalysis in order to determine what the fault was and how to prevent it in future models.