Adamantium Armaggedon

August 1, 2005

Avengers: Ultron Unlimited TPB
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: George Perez

By Avi Green

When Kurt Busiek took over the writing on the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in 1998, and George Perez returned to penciling one of the most notable titles that made him the popular artist he is today, bringing them back to a much more enjoyable state than they’d been in since the time when Marvel attempted an Image-style revamping of the characters in 1996-97 with their “Heroes Reborn” storyline, it was one of the best of times for the Avengers, and few other eras will be able to match it.

This is but one of the best of that time, which far outdoes even the work that the overrated Brian Michael Bendis is doing on the EMH just now, in which the Avengers find themselves facing off once more with Ultron, the Frankenstein-ish robot created by scientist Hank Pym who turned against his unwitting creator and went on to upgrade himself to become the most deadly android being ever known to mankind, and how, because Ultron is determined to slay all humanity and replace it with robotkind.

The Avengers are holding a press conference to announce the addition of some new members, those being Justice/Vance Astrovik and Firestar/Angelica Jones, a young couple who were once stalwart members of the New Warriors in the mid-90s, and former teen superheroes to boot. But just as they’re getting ahead with things, who should burst into the room in a state of distress but Janet Van Dyne, the lovely Wasp, to inform them that Hank Pym, alias Yellowjacket, has been kidnapped, and Ultron is apparently behind things. As they discover after a battle with Alkhema, the female robot Ultron once created in turn, the lethal robot has slain an entire European country called Slorenia, leaving nothing living in his sadistic wake. And no sooner have some of their team gone to investigate, they too are kidnapped by a whole army of Ultron’s past designs, succeeding in immobilizing even the Scarlet Witch, one superheroine and Avengers member whose powers can certainly stand against Ultron’s own.

Ulton plans to use their mind templates to help create a new brand of android who’ll serve his twisted viewpoints, and it’s up to the team that includes Black Panther and Firestar to stop him. Without showing any fear, the Avengers all enter the vicinity of Ultron’s headquarters to put a stop to his lethal onslaught and to dismantle the android once and for all.

One of the strongest parts of Busiek’s writing is that he makes even the women here into very strong and effective protagonists. It’s interesting to note that when Jan bursts in through the Avengers Mansion lounge window where they’re giving a press conference, the scene is meant to evoke the scene in Avengers #202 from December 1980, which Perez penciled, when Jan burst in, exhausted from her flight to NYC from New Jersey, to warn them of the menace that’s encroaching upon them. Busiek does a very good job in improving upon what was then a weak storyline in 1981, when Hank Pym, under Ultron’s apparent influence, ended up hitting his then wife Jan during an argument on his wanting to use a gimmick to be reaccepted and respected by the Avengers again after a fallout with them, which ultimately led to their divorce. As she tells Wanda, while Hank did do something wrong by hitting her, and is the one to blame, and she’s certainly read more than enough self-help books on the subject, she still feels at fault for some of his own mental breakdown of yore. But of course, Ultron was and is mainly responsible for what’s happened to him much of the time as the years went by. And now, once again, he’s targeted his creator, and is planning to use not just him, but also his ex-wife and his friends as templates for building a replacement for the human race: robots! And it’s up to the Avengers, both captive and rescuers, to stop him.

Perez also made a very spectacular return as the artist for the EMH, and the design he gives Scarlet Witch’s costume is one midriff-baring stunner, ditto the Wasp’s. And let’s not forget Firestar, who looks so cute in her own flame-like costume as well.

Ultron Unlimited is a great entry in the adventures of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and one of Busiek’s best shows of storytelling.

Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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