Comic Book Classics Revisited: The Avengers (vol. 1) #55


It’s another Friday, and another installment of Comic Book Classics Revisited!  Today, we’ll continue our “Ultron Handbook” to get you familiar with the Avengers’ deadliest foe and star of The Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.  Read on to see our look at 1968’s The Avengers #55!

In the last issue, a new Masters of Evil was brought together by the mysterious “Crimson Cowl” to take their revenge on the Avengers.  In order to do so, they needed an inside guy to get past Hank Pym’s fancy new security devices.  Crimson Cowl pays the Avengers butler, Edwin Jarvis, to give them the location of the devices.  After the Masters of Evil successfully invade Avengers Mansion, the Crimson Cowl reveals there are two of him.  One, a scary looking robot, and the other being Jarvis himself!

The victorious Masters of Evil head back to base with the captured Avengers in tow.  When they arrive, Melter discovers Crimson Cowl is a cruel taskmaster by saying they were tardy a whole five minutes based on the Cowl’s very carefully planned schedule.  There are a couple other things that bother Melter.  One, despite everyone knowing it is Jarvis under the Cowl, the mastermind is still wearing his costume.  Two, he seems to be more omnipotent than appearances show.

As Klaw transports the captured Avengers to the Crimson Cowl, he’s surprised by Goliath waking up and attempting to escape.  However, this is short lived as Crimson Cowl arrives and gasses the behemoth back to unconsciousness.  When Cowl criticizes Klaw’s inability to transport the Avengers, Klaw responds by blasting Cowl with a brutal sonic assault.  To Klaw’s surprise, the Crimson Cowl is unharmed.  When Cowl threatens to gas Klaw with a lethal dose from his gun, Klaw grovels for forgiveness.

Soon, Crimson Cowl gathers the rest of the Masters of Evil to reveal his big plan.  He plans to stash the captured Avengers inside a hydrogen bomb.  Then, he plans to hang it over the Empire State Building and blackmail the authorities.  When asked what happens if the authorities play ball with them, Cowl says that’s alright by him, but they will still dispose of the Avengers by dropping the bomb into the deepest part of the Atlantic.  With that, the rest of the Masters of Evil throw in without a second thought.

The Avengers awaken to find themselves locked inside the hydrogen bomb.  Acting quickly, Goliath tries to bust his way out.  However, the bomb is lined with a metal that repels with the same force afflicted on it.  Using a transparent panel in the bomb, Crimson Cowl reveals his masterplan.  As Pym suspected, there was more going on with the Jarvis reveal in the last issue as Jarvis is revealed to be hypnotized and has been a puppet this whole time for the real Crimson Cowl.

Crimson Cowl reveals himself again as the robot, but introduces himself as Ultron-5, the living automaton!  Ultron knocks out Jarvis and has Melter get rid of Jarvis, but Melter is too busy trying to figure out what the hell Ultron is and how he duped the other Masters of Evil to realize Jarvis is not dead.  That comes later as Jarvis comes to and tries to escape.  Even after Melter dumps a bunch of rubble onto Jarvis, the butler still survives and seeks help for the Avengers.  He finally comes across the Black Knight (who he, at first mistakes as one of the Masters of Evil until Black Knight says otherwise).

Black Knight takes off on Aragorn (his winged horse) and finds the hovering airship.  Before the Masters of Evil can break in on all commercial TV to issue their demands, Black Knight breaks through the hull of the airship.  Acting quickly, Black Knight blasts open the bomb freeing the Avengers.  The battle between Avengers and Masters of Evil rages on while Ultron watches in the safety of a hideaway only he knows about. but he’s none too pleased with his hired “Masters” of Evil.  Soon, the tide turns and the Avengers get the upper hand.  Whirlwind realizes they will not relinquish this advantage and flees, but Melter, Radioactive Man, and Klaw are all captured.

Black Knight takes the Avengers to where Jarvis is resting from his injuries.  Jarvis admits that he did sell them out for money.  His mother is ill and needed expensive treatments, but he thought the Avengers would still be victorious.  He asks to be taken to the police, but Hank and Janet decline and give him a second chance.  Elsewhere, though, Ultron-5 swears he will get his revenge against the Avengers…


I love that above frame.  Someday, Ultron becomes a nation-murdering robot that does all sorts of unspeakable things.  At the end of his first full appearance, he’s just a monologue-spouting villain who’s just plain arch.  It’s brilliant.  It’s also that little thing that make kids fall in love with comic books and heroes.

Let’s face it, we like it when our heroes are good and do the right thing.  We also like it when the villains are just bad and can be judged in a black-and-white way.  No matter how mature your tastes become or how much you say, or think, you love when characters like Magneto evolve into complex characters with deep psychology around their motives and such…  You know, that thing you talk about to either A) make yourself sound smarter around other comic fans or B) defend still reading comics to people who don’t.  Don’t think I’m making fun because I do it all the time too.  Deep down, though, man, I love bad guys who just love being evil.  There’s a realism to that as well.  While that realism is typically born from deeper things that the educated can study and talk about, just knowing that you can point to a character and say he/she is undeniably “good” or “bad” is comforting.

And what about this undeniable villain we’ve just been introduced to…  This Ultron guy?  Well, he’s still a bit of a mystery.  He wants the Avengers dead, but the reasons aren’t clear yet.  Our heroes have a monster out there with revenge on his mind, but they know nothing about him. They’ve only barely seen the guy, so there’s no way of knowing what they’ve done to bunch his panties all up and stuff.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for long to find out more about this new villain.  In just two short months, the Avengers would meet the foe again.  That’s what the next Comic Book Classics Revisited will cover!  So, come back on Monday and we’ll get into the landmark Avengers #57!


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