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

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In this feature, I count down, well, top fives. 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!



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 as an Ultron story, just consider it #2 on the list and then 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.

EDITED TO ADD: Since initially writing this piece, there was a new Ultron story in the recent Rage of Ultron Graphic Novel by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena and Pepe Larraz. I fond that graphic novel was strong for roughly 95% of the comic, but I really did not like the ending. I didn’t mind it in the abstract (as a plot development) but as a way to wrap the story up, I don’t think it really worked and I think writer Rick Remender really should have just held that plot development for a future run where he had more time to let it breathe. It’s clearly something he’s been wanting to write for some time now (all the way back to his Secret Avengers days) but I think he should have let it be its own thing and not as an ending to this graphic novel, as it overshadows the whole story (and not in a good way). But for the rest of the story, it was a rollicking good time, complete with some interesting questions of the ethics of robotics in the Marvel Universe and some fantastic artwork and cool moments, like this one…



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, Barry Windsor-Smith, was the interior artist on the first two parts of this classic which introduced the world to adamantium. Roy Thomas wrote the whole thing and Sal Buscema then 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, like the end of Avengers #66…



and towards the beginning of #67…



Read on for the top three!

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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.


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.

Oh Rage of Ultron got added.

I like how Remender kinda answers my question of why Ultron’s a douchebag even though he was created by a good guy.

Yeah. The last 5% of the story might leave readers saying, “That’s it?”

Also Ultron was pretty damn strong. He was basically the Phalanx.

Age of Ultron is, for me, a big disappointment. Yes, that event paved the way to Secret Wars (incursions, multiversity-wide destruction, muddled-timelines, etc), but the pacing is so dragging, it could have be done in just 5-6 issues, not 11 (including the FCBD 0 zero). Boy I’m glad Joss Whedon ONLY took the name AoU, not the story itself.

Man, is George Perez the best Avengers artist in history or what?

Chaim Mattis Keller

November 29, 2015 at 10:19 am

@Hesia: If you erase the word “Avengers” from that sentence, the answer is still “yes.”

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