Comic Book Classics Revisited: The Avengers (vol. 1) #68


Ultron-6 has brought New York City to the brink of a nuclear holocaust!  Welcome back to Comic Book Clog’s Comic Book Classics Revisited series!  Today, I continue our Ultron Handbook with The Avengers (1963) #68.  Let’s jump right into this issue and see how the Avengers stop the maniacal killer robot…

At the end of the last issue, Ultron only needed to pull a lever and New York City would erupt in atomic fire.  With the Avengers and a crack Shield team closing in on Ultron, the lever is pulled… to no effect.  Confused, Ultron realizes it MUST have been the Avengers who thwarted his plan to wipe out human life in the city and they must pay for what they’ve done.  Thankfully for Ultron, the Avengers bust into his stronghold to attack them.  After a brief battle, Ultron disappears, but Vision rejoins the team saying he was the one that stopped Ultron’s machine, but weakened by his own battle against both Ultron and Shield, Vision collapses.


On board a quinjet, the Avengers are able to use a basic mind reading machine to learn that Ultron’s adamantium body was forged by a molecular rearranger.  Yellowjacket contacts Black Panther to get a chunk of vibranium from Wakanda.  Hank’s second part of his plan is to use Dr. MacLain, the creator of adamantium, as bait to lure Ultron to the United Nations building.  However, Ultron, listening in, already spots that it is surely a trap.  Despite this, Ultron decides he will indeed spring the trap and capture MacLain to assist in the creation of an indestructible army of mindless robots to wipe out humanity.


At the U.N., Thor, Goliath, and Jan are on hand for MacLain’s speech to the delegates.  Suddenly, the building starts to shake and to everyone’s surprise, Ultron busts out of the floor.  However, this isn’t just any Ultron.  No longer is he Ultron-6.  He is now the “Ultimate” Ultron!  Ultron makes short work of the Shield agents who (inexplicably) decided to attack the 8-foot robot with stun guns.  The Avengers jump into the fray.  They exchange hubris, and just when Goliath thinks he’s struck the deathblow by smashing Ultron, the robot bounces right back and blasts Goliath with a blinding ray.  When the Avengers are defeated, Ultron tries using his new mind-draining device to gather all of MacLain’s secrets about adamantium.  However, the plan backfires as Ultron’s face starts to melt.  When Ultron begins to overload and is about to explode, Thor encases the robot’s body with a vibranium dome (from the vibranium they got from Black Panther).  After Ultron explodes, we learn that MacLain is actually Pym in disguise.  The Avengers look over the smoldering pit that was Ultron’s body, a job well done.

So, Ultron is yet again thwarted.  However, he’s not defeated without some complete and total zaniness from Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Let’s start with Hank.

ultimate-ultronYes, he was disguised as MacLain.  But it wasn’t enough to just disguise himself as the scientist.  I mean, if you ask me, I’m fairly certain Hank is smart enough to be able to B.S. his way through this speech and such because he is, after all, like one of the top 5 smartest dudes in the Marvel Universe and all, but what do I know?  Anyway, beyond the physical disguise of a mask, Hank actually had Jan hypnotize him into believing he IS MacLain.  Remember, this is a guy who would later prove to have all sorts of brain and mind problems down the road – not to mention this has already started to show up in his life already.  I’m not so sure this was the best idea.  Again, what do I know? I guess he REALLY had to prove he was MacLain.  That’s not all either!  His head was filled with one solitary commandment for Ultron – “Thou shall not kill.”  I guess Hank knew Ultron built one of those mind-draining doo-hickeys.  Again, what do I know?

The above is certainly a pretty clear 1960s deus ex machina.  We were already almost a full three issues in by the time the end of the story was upon us.  Ultron was not only indestructible upon his most recent upgrade, but now he built himself an 8-foot body that was similarly indestructible.  When you only have a couple pages left, you gotta figure something out on the fly I suppose.  So…  Yeah, Hank got himself hypnotized to believe he was a scientist and then told Ultron “Thou shall not kill”; and there you have it.

What?  How did that really kill a robot whose sole purpose appears to be death and destruction?  Don’t worry about it, kids.  But he had a body made out of indestructible metal?  Shut up kid and just come back next month for the next story.  Dummy.  Science works, dammit!

And then there were two tiny frames that show you the awesomeness that is Janet Van Dyne.  First up, let’s set the scene, shall we?  The Avengers have been getting their asses handed to them first, by their teammate, the Vision, and, second, by Ultron-6 who seems to have upgraded himself beyond what the Avengers can handle.  Thanks to Vision coming to his senses, he provides the key to Ultron’s defeat, but they have to set the trap.  They need to get some vibranium, contact MacLain, and get to the United Nations just to HOPE that Ultron takes the bait.

But that’s not what Jan’s worried about…


Now, I know about the legendary Marvel Method.  Sal Buscema drew this panel, and Roy Thomas put in the dialog and what have ya.  I can’t help but to think that Thomas looked at this and just didn’t know what else to do.  Yes, Jan’s personality was certainly one of a socialite who always dressed well.  I mean, jeez, she had a LOT of costume changes through the years.  So clothing was her thing.  However, here, she’s kind of got this look…  It’s like the love child of Dr. Benton Quest and a soulless stare that may confuse some people on whether or not she was alive.  So, after seeing the image, and reading the words, we are left with only one thing to think about:  Jan’s really, really, REALLY concerned that she hasn’t a thing to wear!

Don’t worry, she figured it out:


So, we’ve come to the close of another story.  As we’ve worked through this “Ultron Handbook” of mine, we’ve looked over the first three stories Ultron’s been a part of.  We’ve seen his mysterious beginnings as the villainous “Crimson Cowl”.  We’ve seen his return, and the creation of my favorite Avenger, the Vision.  Now, we’ve come to the end of his third appearance that forever marries Ultron to adamantium.  I’ve got one last Ultron story to share with you (in fact, my very favorite Ultron story), but since we’re doing all this as preparation for the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I thought we should take a momentary breather for the next time around.

Another major part of the new Avengers flick is the introduction of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to the team.  Since we already looked over Ultron’s beginnings and another Avenger that will be joining the team with the Vision.  So, on Friday, we’ll take a look at The Avengers #16.  This would be the issue in which the first change in the Avengers lineup would occur – which would show that former villains Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch can indeed not just be Avengers, but three of the longest standing members of the team through the years.  Come back on Friday and we’ll take a peek at it!

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