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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