By Jim Beard
Ultron’s true strength lies in his unnerving ability to rise from the ashes after each defeat and reinvent himself for further battles. His long history as the Avengers’ adversary proves this mechanical monstrosity will never stop until he destroys all life as we know it.
Out of His Head
One of the greatest shames of scientist Hank Pym’s life revolves around his attempt at creating artificial life. After he stumbled upon the secret of gifting a robotic form with sentience, his construct took matters into its own hands and wiped Pym’s mind of the entire experiment. It dubbed itself Ultron and went about improving its own existence in secret.
Now as Ultron-5, the robot disguised itself as the “Crimson Cowl” and both organized a new Masters of Evil and turned Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, against the heroes. At adventure’s end, the Avengers pondered their new foe and his goals, intentions that became all too clear when next Ultron struck. Sending an amazing creation of his own— the synthezoid called the Vision—to destroy the team, he revealed his desire to end all organic life on Earth. But, even after Ultron’s defeat, questions remained and uneasy assumptions lingered.
Of course, their strange foe returned, this time as Utron-6 and with the most terrifying upgrade of all: a body crafted entirely from indestructible adamantium. This came about through Ultron’s manipulation of the Vision and with his new invincible state he beat the Avengers into submission and set about to level New York City through nuclear devastation.
The Vision, chagrined at his role in his creator’s transformation, disabled the nuclear device and aided his teammates in uncovering the means of Ultron’s defeat: a molecular re-arranger. Disguised as an expert on adamantium, Hank Pym filled the evil robot’s head with a single phrase that eventually drove Ultron insane and lead to his downfall under a dome of vibranium: “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
When next he raised his leering metal skull, Ultron displayed yet more upgrades, effectively making him Ultron-7. As the Avengers and Fantastic Four feted the Inhuman Crystal and the mutant Quicksilver at the occasion of their wedding, Ultron struck with the aid of the villainous Inhuman called Maximus, seeking revenge against the assembled heroes.
It became known that Maximus recovered Ultron’s head after his last loss in battle, making the robot the proverbial bad penny in the Avengers’ lives. Fortunately, their enemy’s mind-ray brought about the reawakening of Franklin Richards, the son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, and a mutant possessing untold levels of psychic power. Franklin vanquished Ultron-7 and brought a modicum of peace back to Crystal and Quicksilver’s special day.
The Bride of Evil
A new desire for companionship of his own kind set Ultron on the path to create a new artificial being, one that would become his “bride.” When Hank Pym suffered a mental breakdown, believing that he still operated as Ant-Man, he attacked his comrades and granted Ultron-8 a window of opportunity. The evil robot moved in, blasted the heroes and stole away with Pym and the Wasp, the love of Ant-Man’s life.
At his lair, Ultron convinced Pym that the Avengers were responsible for the Wasp’s injuries and that by placing her mind in a robotic body her existence could continue. In reality, the process meant death for the heroine, a fact that Ultron declined to offer to his “father.” When Earth’s Mightiest Heroes caught up to their foe, he managed to escape once again, but left behind a most wondrous thing: his artificial bride, Jocasta.
Later, Jocasta gained consciousness and awareness but attacked the Avengers. The heroes hoped that by allowing her to run off, she might lead them to her erstwhile “fiancé,” which she ultimately did. In a convent inhabited by a robot nun guardian, the bride of Ultron turned on her creator and the Scarlet Witch delivered the winning blow with her hex power. Then, Thor siphoned Ultron’s energies from his metal shell and set them loose into outer space.
If there existed any faith among the Avengers that the adventure spelled the true and final end of the mechanical menace, no one volunteered to claim it.
To be continued…