The Avengers sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, puts Ultron front and center. Ultron? He's that silver robot with the fiery mouth in the posters, right? Yes. And he's been a force in comics for years. Ultron has been a part of many important Avengers storylines, but which are the best?
Okay. How is he a challenge for a team that beats back an entire intergalactic army of Chitauri led by the God of Mischief and Lies (that would be Loki)? Why is he such a threat for a team that has a Hulk AND a God of Thunder? This should be easy for them, right?No. Absolutely not. Here are the top stories for you to read to be prepared for the sequel, and to give you the information you need to be the guy or gal in your office who everybody comes to after they've seen the movie.
Main story found in: Annihilation: Conquest #1-6 (2007-2008)
Written by: Dan Abnett
Drawn by: Andy Lanning
This story is pretty epic and pure insanity. Ultron's consciousness, having been defeated, escapes into the depths of outer space where it comes into contact with a race of artificial beings known as The Phalanx. Ultron takes them over and uses them to take over the ENTIRE Kree galaxy. With a consciousness and code that can travel at the speed of light and duplicate itself infinitely, this is a threat of A.I. assimilation and biological extermination for the entire universe. It's like if you mixed Skynet from Terminator with Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith in Matrix Revolutions (the third one, where he can take over everyone he touches).
We get a lot of Marvel Cosmic heavy-hitters in this one, Quasar and Moondragon awakening a hibernating Adam Warlock, the Guardians of the Galaxy being formed, and Nova eventually coming in with a team of his own to help save the galaxy and the universe. We also get to see Ultron at his most advanced, his artificial consciousness spread across an entire race of synthesized beings, controlling all of them, a kin to the Queen of the Borg, but murderous and brutal on a scale she could never imagine.
This is where the modern Guardians of the Galaxy team is initially formed, so if you want to start at the beginning with them, start here and then get Abnett and Lannin's 2008 release Guardians of the Galaxy.
Written by: Keith Giffen
Drawn by: Timothy Green.
Found in: Avengers Vol. 3 #19-22 (1999)
Written by: Kurt Busiek
Drawn by: George Perez
Hank Pym goes missing and no one knows why! Then, as The Avengers fight Alkhema (one of the two robot "brides" Ultron created for himself), they get word that the ENTIRE nation of Slorenia was destroyed by Ultron in just three hours. His plan, to use the resources of the demolished country to create his own "Master Race" of robots. Then he kidnaps his "family:" Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man, and Scarlet Witch. He's telling them that they will help him create this new race. Fully confronted with the atrocity of what he created, Pym starts to fully break down mentally.
No matter how hard The Avengers fight, there seems to be no end in sight as more and more Ultrons pile on to them. In the end, they are able to defeat him, but barely, and at the cost of an entire nation completely decimated by Pym's unfortunate creation.So now, not only do we have an immortal program in a constant state of upgrading itself and evolving, we now have an A.I. fully capable of obliterating entire nations in mere hours.
The Origin of Ultron
Found in: Avengers #54-58 (1968)
Written by: Roy Thomas
Drawn by: John Buscema
This is where it all begins for Ultron, where we find out who the robot is, where he comes from, what he wants, and what he's capable of. Initially, he conceals his true identity under the guise of a villain named "The Crimson Cowl," leading a reformed Masters of Evil (Klaw, Whirlwind, Melter, Black Knight, and Radioactive Man) against The Avengers. However, it is soon revealed that he is none other than Ultron-5, an artificial super intelligence created by Hank Pym to help him create a perfect world. However, once turned on, Ultron very quickly turns on his "father," realizing that the only way to achieve a perfect world is without humanity.After the Masters of Evil are defeated, Ultron sends his own "son," The Vision, after the Avengers. The Vision is an android based on the brain wave patterns of Wonder Man. However, after infiltrating Avengers Tower, The Vision turns on his creator to help the Avengers defeat him.
Found in: Avengers #66-68 (1969)
Written by: Roy Thomas
Drawn by: John Buscema
So, Ultron's been introduced. He's a bad guy, tough to deal with, but he's still a threat The Avengers can contain. YAY! Bad guy defeated! That is, until, they discover that they can't truly destroy his artificial consciousness, which he implanted in The Vision to reawaken at an opportune time. So now, not only was he not defeated, but Ultron is more or less an immortal program, constantly evolving on its own, so that they never know when or where the threat will come from.
Not only that, but Ultron commands The Vision to build him a new body. And not just ANY body, an ULTIMATE body, completely composed, inside and out, of unbreakable Adamantium, you know, what Wolverine's skeleton and claws are laced with.It's also here that you really start to see the connection between Hank Pym and Ultron start to really unfold. No matter how hard Ultron may try to deny his maker, Pym still has some influence over him as it's Pym's subtle command, "Thou shalt not kill," which short circuits Ultron to save the day.