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Month of Avengers/X-Men Top Fives – Top Five Ultron vs. Avengers Stories

All month-long we’ll be featuring top five lists about either the Avengers or the X-Men. a href=”http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/06/17/archive-of-top-fives/”>Here is an archive of all the past top five lists!

Today we’ll take a look at the top five best Ultron vs. Avengers stories!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Vision’s debut in #57-58 is awesome and it is technically an Ultron story, but so much of the story revolves around Vision’s own personal issues (something like seven pages out of the 44 pages in the two issues actually deal with fighting Ultron) that I’d feel weird including it on an Ultron list, although it DOES have the famous Ozymandias page at he end of #57. If you really think that this should count, just consider it #2 on the list and bump the other four stories up one spot.

Similarly, while TITLED Age of Ultron, that mini-series was really more about what the world was like POST Ultron and less about the Avengers actually fighting Ultron (they only fight him in part of the final issue of the series) so I would also eliminate that one from contention although I thought it was a good story overall.

There were two really good Ultron stories in the West Coast Avengers. First, Steve Englehart did one of the first in-depth examinations about how Wonder Man, Ultron and the Vision are all sort of kind of family in a really messed up way. Later, Roy and Dann Thomas wrote a fun story where Ultron creates another female robot, this time based on Mockingbird.

5. “The Ultron Imperative” Avengers: The Ultron Imperative #1

Kurt Busiek teamed up with Ultron’s creator, Roy Thomas, as well an all-star roster of artists (John Paul Leon, Jerry Ordway, Tom Grummett and much, much more!) to tell a fascinating story that examines the nature of free will when you’re talking about a robot. The Avengers come across a plot by Alkhema to create a civilization based on the brain patterns that she recovered from Ultron’s defeat during the Ultron Unlimited storyline (Ultron had taken brain patterns from Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, Hank Pym, Vision, Grim Reaper and the Wasp). However, she unwittingly was just doing Ultron’s dirty work for him. Meanwhile, Hawkeye has to deal with facing off against Alkhema, who is based on his (then thought to be) dead wife, Mockingbird. It’s an epic tale with a lot of great insights into the personalities of the Avengers as well as Ultron and his ilk.

4. “We Stand at Armageddon” Avengers #66-68

The cover artist of the previous story was the interior artist on the first two parts of this classic which introduced the world to adamantium. Roy Thomas wrote it and Sal Buscema drew the final part of this storyline which opened with the introduction of adamantium and then followed by the Vision being controlled by his creator, Ultron, to steal the adamantium so that Ultron can be remade in an entirely adamantium body! How do you defeat a bad guy made up entirely of adamantium? That’s the problem facing the Avengers and they face their challenge in style, as Smith’s two issues are absolutely GORGEOUS, filled with stunning full-page spreads.

3. “Deliver Us From…The Masters of Evil!” Avengers #54-55

In this classic two-parter by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Georges Tuska and Klein (the latter two each inked one issue apiece), the Avengers are betrayed by their own butler, Edwin Jarvis! This story would be referenced many times over the years, as it was pretty much the introduction of Jarvis as he was betraying the team (yes, he had made earlier appearances, but never to this extent). This storyline, which introduced a new Masters of Evil, also saw the introduction of their secretive boss – Ultron! It is really impressive that Ultron’s debut was in the middle of such a cool storyline.

2. “The Bride of Ultron” Avengers #161-162, #170-171

Jim Shooter, George Perez and Pablo Marcos delivered this classic storyline, which was oddly enough split apart by nearly a year. In the first part, spinning out of Ant-Man’s mental instability (something Shooter would return to later on) and his attack on the Avengers, Ultron kidnaps the Wasp and uses her brain waves to create a bride for Ultron. Dubbed Jocasta, she is left with the Avengers when Ultron escapes. He later returns for her in the second part of this story, and the Avengers have to defeat the evil robot while determine whether they can trust this new female robot who seems to want to be one of them. Shooter, Perez and Marcos were on quite a run during this period.

1. “Ultron Unlimited” Avengers Volume 3 #19-22

The concept of the storyline (written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez and Al Vey) is that Ultron IX has decided that he does not want to simply wipe out humans from Earth – he wants to repopulate the world with his own people: robots. He begins this attempt in horrific fashion as he enters the small European country of Slorenia and proceeds to slaughter the entire human population in three hours. He sends a message to the horrified public watching at home – do not come into this county or suffer the same fate.

Meanwhile, he has also kidnapped the Avengers that he considers “family” and intends to use their brainwaves to base his new world population of robots on, much like the way he earlier based his intended robot bride Jocasta on Wasp’s brainwaves, the android Vision on the brainwaves of Wonder Man and the robot Alkhema on the brainwaves of Mockingbird.

It is during this story that we learn for the first time something that probably should have been evident to readers earlier (it’s somewhat surprising it took decades until Busiek came up the concept), which is that Ultron’s mind was based on the brainwaves of his creator, Hank Pym, who happens to be among the Avengers kidnapped by Ultron.

The Avengers ultimately decide to invade Slorenia, resulting in many interesting battles within the country as the small band of heroes seem to be overmatched by Ultron’s apparently unending supply of robot drones (hence the “Unlimited” part of the story’s title). During the course of this war, the Avengers have to face off against all the earlier Ultrons, each of whom was enough to fight them to a standstill in previous years.

Ultron is quite confident that his minions are more than enough to defeat the Avengers. That same confidence leads to one of the coolest dramatic entrances ever (and winner of a Wizard Award that year for Best Moment) when the Avengers burst into Ultron’s lair, looking quite ragged, with Thor speaking for the entire team when he declares “Ultron, we would have words with thee!”

This turns the tide, and ultimately, Hank Pym is able to redeem himself and save the day.

15 Comments

Good choices! (I never read spot 5 but I assume that’s a good choice, too).

I also have a soft spot for an understated little fight in issues #201 and 202, which ends in Hawkeye delivering the coup de grace.

I also remember an old FF/Avengers crossover in the 70s where they fight Ultron with the Inhumans, but as I recall that wasn’t as exciting (mostly they were fighting a big giant that had Ultron’s head).

I wish it could have been a “Top Six” to include Avengers #201-202…(201 has one of the most amazing Perez covers ever). It was his last Avengers in a decade or two…

That’s not Ultron-9 (or IX, or whatnot) in “Ultron Unlimited;” shockingly, we’d been through 15 “main villain” iterations of Ultron by then!

Ultron 1-4: seen briefly in flashbacks.
Ultron-5: debuts Avengers v.1 #54-5, destroyed in Avengers v.1 #57 when his skull electrodes are smashed
Ultron-6: debuts Avengers v.1 #66; first Adamantium model, self-destructed Avengers v.1 #68 when confronted by the mind of his creator filled with the phrase “thou shalt not kill.”
Ultron-7: gigantic model, called itself by a new number but was the head of Ultron-6 placed atop giant android Omega by Maximus the Mad; debuted (fully) Fantastic Four v.1 #150, destroyed that same issue by Franklin Richards’s mind powers
Ultron-8: second Adamantium model (they all are from here on out), debuted Avengers v.1 #161 (behind the scenes since #157, where its hand is briefly seen); destroyed Avengers v.1 #172 by the Scarlet Witch’s hex power
Ultron-9: debuted Avengers v.1 #201-2; fused ibnto Adamantium slag in Avengers v.1 #202
Ultron-10: debuted Marvel Two-In-One #92; destroyed (after “killing” Jocasta) in Marvel Two-In-One #93 when Machine Man reached down his throat and tore out vital circuitry
Ultron-11: debuted on Battleworld in Secret Wars v.1 #1; head took a long journey to California after the Thing brought it to Earth and lost it during the final battle with the Dire Wraiths in Fantastic Four v.1 #277; destroyed West Coast Avengers v.2 #7 when Wonder Man rattled him until his innards broke
Ultron-12: debuted West Coast Avengers v.2 #1; “Mark-12″ model that evolved past hating Hank Pym; destroyed by Ultron-11, who tore its head off
Ultron-13: debuted as a crazy model witgh all 12 previous personalities active at one in Daredevil v.1 #275; assembled by Doctor Doom; tore its own head off in DD v.1 #276, but somehow reactivated as a sane entity in West Coast Avengers v.2 #65-8: created Alkhema/War Toy in WCA v.1 #89-91; “Adaantium Affair” crossover annuals in Spider-Man titles; finally neutralized in AWC Annual #8 when the Avengers magnetized him to a missile, fired it into space, and blew it up (some sources claimt he upgrade was Ultron-14, but they missed on, as shown below)
Ultron-14: debuted in friggin’ Blackwulf #6, created “Rex the Ultron Dog”
Ultron-15: affected by Tabula Rasa virus; developed personality of a human alcoholic in Vision v.1 (limited series) #1-4

After this, Ultron’s “main” unit stops using numbers, but Ultrons 1-15 and new “Secondary Adamantium” models numbered from Ultron-pi to at least Ultron-2,346 were used by the “Ultimate Ultron” in “Ultron Unlimited”

“Ultimate Ultron” (not to be confused with Ultron-6, which also called itself that): first glimpsed in Avengers v.3 #10, full debut in Avengers v.3 #18; slaughtered Slorenia; destroyed by Hank Pym using “Anti-Metal” in Avengers v.3 #22
Ultron reemerged in Avengers: The Ultron Imperative and reduced to a still-active head. After trying to take over the Iron Man armor, it was destroyed in Iron Man v.3 #48
Following these appearances, Ultron starts being written more as an A.I. program that moves from body to body; the Ultron from stories such as Mighty Avengers #1-6, Avengers/Invaders, Annihilation: Conquest, and Age of Ultron seems to think of itself as the same, continuous entity.

How could Ultron Unlimited not be the number one pick? It’s phenomenal.

Age of Ultron, though? Horribly squanders its premise with decompression and a bizarre left turn about the halfway point. It’s essentially a longer and dumber “Days of Future Past” but without any innovation.

One thing I always remember about THAT panel…

All of the Avengers look like they’ve been through Hell’s spin cycle about 20 times — except for one.

The Black Panther looks like he just got his suit out of the closet — because T’Challa is NOT gonna let you make him look bad.

Ultron is my favorite Avengers villain not named Kang. All these stories are pretty awesome.

One thing: It may be obvious to many that BWS is the cover artist on The Ultron Imperative, but you never mention him by name until “Smith’s two issues” in the next item. Kinda struck me as odd.

nice picks including ultron unlimited which shows how nasty Ultron truely is even as a machine in his quest to wipe out humanity and rule.

“We would have words with thee” is a moment where adults are allowed to squeal

Kurt and George’s first 2 years on the title are just so incredible, so retro yet very much in the now. Just awesome awesome stuff.

I recently got a copy of the second TPB of the Busiek/Perez run, mostly because of “Ultron Unlimited”. Haven’t reached that point yet, but it seems like I made a good choice.

That point one issue where he is revealed to be the spaceknight (that de facto became an Age of Ultron story) was an awesome Ultron moment as were those teases in the bendis/romita jr run of their future.

One of my favorite Ultron stories wasn’t a comic book. “This Evil Undying” was a short story written by Jim Shooter for the Marvel Superheroes anthology in 1979, back when Marvel had released a bunch of print fiction. (You can probably find it on eBay.) Excellent story. Shooter later adapted it for the comic book, but it always worked best in the original format.

AverageJoeEveryman

September 11, 2013 at 10:17 am

for a bit there I wondered why Annihilation Conquest didnt get a mention, then I realized this is about Avengers vs Ultron. Loved Ultron Unlimited, I had a subscription at that point and loved all the Busiek/Perez issues.

Ultorn Unlimited is not just the best Ultron vs Avengers story of all time. It’s the best Avengers story of all time, period.

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