Tuesday, November 13, 2007

#99 Ultron (Marvel)
Real Name: [Ultron]
First Appearance: [Avengers #54; July 1968]
Group Affiliations: [Masters of Evil, Lethal Legion, The Phalanx]
Class: [Super] Last Opponent: [Machine Man & Thing]
Win Percentage: [100%] Features: [1]
Season 2006: [N/A] Current Ranking: [#114]

The Story...
Modelling a pattern of artificial intelligence on his own brain patterns, Hank Pym (Yellowjacket of the Avengers), designs a robotic entity he calls Ultron.
Inadvertently created with self-awareness, Ultron quickly develops sentience and erases memory of his creation from Pym, with the intentions of destroying his creator and the Avengers.

Possessing his own infatuation with Pym's ex-wife, Janet Van Dyne, Ultron would go on to have a peculiar relationship with women, and the people he regards as his extended family. Though typically intent on the genocidal eradication of humanity, Ultron exhibits inherent connections with his opposed species, building new sentient automatons in their image.

Ultron would go on to create the Vision (based on Jim Hammond and Wonder Man), Jocasta (modelled for the Wasp), Alkhema (based on Mockingbird), and Victor Mancha (of the Runaways). He would also pursue efforts to mechanize Pym, Van Dyne, and the Simons brothers in his pursuit of an obscure sense of family, and an apparently oedipus complex.

Along with his many sentient creations, Ultron would refine his own visage over various numerically identified incarnations, often independent to their predecessors. By the sixth iteration Ultron would develop his customary shell made of an impure adamantium alloy, nigh impossible to damage, but with a slight weakness characterizing it seperate to the likes used on Wolverine's claws.

ULTRON as he appears in ANNIHILATION CONQUEST #1, as leader of the PHALANX.A new version of Ultron would emerge during a battle with Mole Man and the Avengers. Emerging from the armor of long-time foe Iron Man, this new Ultron would bare resemblance to Wasp, and possess a more organic appearance than the starkly robotic classic versions of Ultron. This version of Ultron remains intent on the destruction of humanity, calling upon slightly altered versions of plans previously launched by other villains. The true origins of the female Ultron are yet to be revealed.

In space, another version of Ultron has emerged as the architect of a new push by the techno-organic alien species, the Phalanx. As the new head, this Ultron appears mostly similar to his former incarnations, with minor upgrades, and a connection to the vast network of assimilated Phalanx beings. This is presumably one of the many previous Ultrons, who could have found his way to space in a variety of different ways.

The Pitch...
ULTRON exhibits his machine powers of hypnosis in MARVEL TEAM-UP #92!In my humble estimation, Ultron represents both, perhaps, the greatest villain to menace the Avengers -- and also one of the shining examples of what tired me in a world of classic Avengers. He'd be one of the factors that made me a bit more receptive to the New Avengers, than a lot of other fans.

There's something inherently American about Ultron.
It's true of Iron Man, too, as well as a lot of other technologocially grounded characters in the Marvel and DC universes. Though they are generally accepted to represent the most advanced of technologies, they have a way of retaining their clunky, basic, unimpressive designs -- and you can forget about getting smaller!

Yes, in it's own way I actually find it charming.
In a world still reeling from the fad explosion of anime culture, it's somewhat refreshing to pick up a comic about robots or suits of armor, and not recognise something unmistakingly Japanese. Undoubtedly it was cringe-worthy when Marvel unleashed it's manned Sentinel models, that unashamadely paid "homage" to Neon Genesis: Evangelion and it's giant-sized EVA units.

I sort of enjoy the subtle commentary that is there, even if only through the American subconscious, that continues to have Iron Man show up in big, rendered suits of armor. Sure, he's come a long way since the 'fridge tank', but for such an advanced piece of technology, he has a way of really looking pretty basic. And an alien shaped helmet really didn't help sell otherwise. So, it's amusing to see clunky American manufacturing and design feature in technologically inclined comics, but for Ultron, it just seems old hat.

The irony here is that I haven't been reading Brian Bendis' Mighty Avengers, which reinvents Ultron as a vivacious Mike Cho woman. As much of a design improvement as that might be, it isn't quite what I would've had in mind.
Actually, for me, Ultron as a concept isn't a new subject. I've pondered it briefly before, and personally, I actually think a little bit of that Japanese touch, filtered through the Western world and sub-cultures of the Marvel universe, are actually what might be needed.

You have a lot of pieces of the overall puzzle sliding around fairly conveniently to provide usage of one of the booming pieces of technology available right now.
Being that I'm not reading Mighty Avengers, I don't know how steeped the current Ultron stuff is in the technology, but being that Iron Man has essentially made himself wirelessly online, it opens his vulnerability to a foe like Ultron up in ways that excite and intrigue.

I like the idea of Ultron-5 and Ultron-XI, and all the other successive models that work their way into the canon with every appearance. I like applying what we know about the character to the conventions and adapted rules of existing technologies -- like wireless and internet applications.

Tony Stark, now organically online through wireless technology, suffers some of the vulnerabilities of everday wireless use. Expanding them out to super-concepts, I like the idea of an Ultron who might try to exploit the lack of natural firewalls Iron Man would have. Granted, Tony Stark will be privvy to some of the most advance online security, but on a while I love the idea of Ultron, through various means, attempting to hack or interfere with Iron Man and his wireless armors.
REED RICHARDS deduces the true meaning behind his new computer, TURINO LX in FANTASTIC FOUR #331.The TURINO XL PC morphs to become ULTRON XI in FANTASTIC FOUR #331. This is why you don't buy no name brands!...
In my world, this is really a decoy measure. I think surrendering Tony Stark to the control of a hacking Ultron is a little too easy, but in a world where man and machine have become one, you start to see new and interesting ways for new versions and models of Ultron to [co]-exist.

I personally like the idea, particularly for the online aspects, of a sentient and self-replicated virus versions of Ultron. Something along the lines of Project-2501 (Ghost in the Shell), that is a self-running intelligence. Presumably this downloaded or programmed version of Ultron would be able to access informations independently for his solid counterpart, while also reinventing the returning-Ultron concept through the use of stored versions of the online-Ultron through various internet sites.

Much like real virii or hackers, the basic tools of the internet suddenly become frustratingly effective weapons for Ultron. It's just a matter of upscaling that logic to deal with men, suits of armor, and SHIELD helicarriers.

Then you take the notion of onlineUltron (iUltron) attempting to hack into Tony Stark, who may have even been the unwitting victim of iUltron's subversive intelligence attacks, before becoming aware of them. Attacks that provided Ultron with Matrixesque avenues to establish yet another new form in his war on humanity and flesh.

Having gained access to the Extremis information, iUltron suddenly begins to emerge across the internet spreading the question, 'What is the 616?'
As dispondent and disillusioned individuals across the world begin responding to this exciting new wave of online philosophy, one [un]lucky user is chosen, perhaps because of the location indicated by their IP, to meet with Ultron.

MALLEN begins his ETREMIS transformation from IRON MAN #1.Becoming the recipient of the Extremis project, 'The One' plucked from an Internet Relay Chat is suddenly transformed into the physical vehicle for a brand new Ultron. An Ultron derived from iUltron, but dealing with a brand new concept: In a world that can create human-machine hybrids, where are the lines of war drawn?

This is where, I assume, the lines of Bendis' work bare, and I also believe he's breeched the subject of hacking Iron Man's armor. Although, Ultron taking possession of Iron Man technology is by no means new, this updated version is maybe more along the lines of what I came up with. I don't know.

But ultimately what you find yourself with is Ultrons with distinct personalities and interests. Classic Ultron, the adamantium bodied robot represents the old ideas, and the mission to destroy all life on Earth in favour of robot dominance.

iUltron, existing purely as a free-running program, would perhaps become a more benevolent concept. You could go a lot of different ways with a lot of different running versions of iUltron, ranging from a comedic meltdown due to internet spam -- to a metaphorical devolution as a result of becoming obssessed with collecting data from newsites and google searches -- to becoming a living application tool to be exploited by terrorists and heroes alike.

Or hey! Maybe Aaron Stack (aka; Machine Man) could download iUltron and convince it to serve as a finance calculator, so he can dazzle all with his accountancy presentations! Mmm... Yeah, or not...

Then, finally, you have the Extremis-Ultron, who is fundamentally influenced by both versions of Ultron (being that his consciousness is a downloaded version of iUltron), but finds himself on a path for his own discovery.

In his own dramatic twist, Extremis-Ultron takes on a peculiar admiration and respect for Tony Stark, and as a being of tech and flesh, abandons a pursuit of human eradication. Instead, like the Ultron of the past, he pushes a whole new concept of human-mecha hybrids, in the same old way.

In this respect, Extremis-Ultron ultimately becomes an enemy to Iron Man and Ultron-original alike. His vision of the world is to merge the two, threatening both humanity and robotics.

And those are just some of the ways you could use Ultron, largely tied to one story concept created last year when I probably could've been doing something more productive. Hey, a guy's gotta have goals. Goals to turn everyone at Marvel into human-robot hybrids! Mwahahahaha!

MACHINE MAN wallops ULTRON with his extendo-arms in MARVEL TEAM-UP #92![The bulk of this post originally appeared with review: Marvel Team-Up #92]

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