What Can the Avengers Do Against an Ultron Made Up Entirely of Adamantium?
This is “From a Different Point of View,” a feature where I discuss a comic book series with another writer. In this case, it is Eileen Gonzalez who will be going over the history of the Avengers with me, story by story!
When last we checked in with our heroes in Avengers #66, “Betrayal!” by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and Syd Shores, the Avengers had been enlisted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to help test out a new metal called adamantium and try to figure out if it is really indestructible. As the various heroes tried their best to destroy it, they were increasingly freaking themselves out, worried about what this new metal could mean for the world, especially if a villain got a hold of it. Meanwhile, the Vision had been having headaches, and he abruptly departed. He returns and steals the Adamantium from S.H.I.E.L.D. He returned to Avengers Mansion, making it clear that he did, in fact, betray the team. He fought against his friends for a little bit until we learn that he was just delaying them for the arrival of Ultron, who is now made up of entirely adamantium!
What the heck happens next? Let’s find out in Avengers #67, “We Stand At…Armageddon!” by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and George Klein.
Eileen opened up with, “The art today looks even more Kirby-esque than last time.” I replied, “Yeah. It’s pretty funny how Barry Windsor-Smith used the name Barry Smith until he briefly left comics after his sensational run on Conan the Barbarian. He did some work in fine art, and I guess he felt that the name Barry Windsor-Smith was fancier. It’s his mother’s maiden name added to his last name. It’s just kind of funny to think of this as, like, ‘Here’s ol’ Barry Smith. Totally different guy than that Barry WINDSOR-Smith fellow!’ And yet, in a lot of ways, he really IS different, because, as you note, he used to vibe Kirby HARD.”
Eileen continued, “Do you think this was a case of his not being as familiar with superhero comics and wanting to stick with a proven style, or just his being a big fan of Kirby’s art and wanting to model himself after him?” I replied, “I mean, Marvel’s policy at the time was that Kirby would do layouts first for new artists. They would then pencil over his layouts to see how Marvel does things. But this is a lot different. This is definitely Smith trying to draw LIKE Kirby.” Eileen responded, “So a bit of both, perhaps?” I replied, “Hmmm…I think it’s more him just wanting to draw like Kirby. I think Smith later even admitted that his earlier stuff was kind of an iffy Kirby riff. Or rather, I think he noted that that’s what he assumed OTHER people thought about his stuff. It’s interesting to note that we’re still at a point where not a whole lot of NEW artists were working for Marvel. When Smith got hired, his friend, Steve Parkhouse, also got hired. But it’s kind of amazing just how little actual new artists were starting at Marvel at this point. 1968 saw the big expansion of Marvel’s line of comics, as they no longer had to do double-feature anthologies. But those new titles were just drawn by the artists who were already drawing the titles. The late 1960s mostly saw Marvel bring in veterans, as their fortunes were doing well and so guys like Gil Kane and George Tuska were coming to work for Marvel. It was very little in the way of NEW artists, but we’re JUST hitting that point now, with Barry Windsor-Smith, Sal Buscema and Neal Adams around the bend.” Eileen replied, “Ooh, fresh blood. Even if, in Windsor-Smith’s case, he’s aping older artists. It makes for an interesting combo, though, seeing Kirby-esque art intertwined with Smith’s own artistic ideas, e.g. the stained glass Vision page from last time.” I noted, “Yeah. By the way, on a more somber note. We say goodbye to George Klein with this issue.” Eileen replied, “Klein has done an excellent job on the series.” I noted, “Three months from this issue, Marvel will announce that he passed away. So I don’t know when he died from the release of this issue.” Eileen responded, “That’s a shame. He really brought a lot to this series. And to comics in general.” I noted, “I’m going to quickly check to see if this was his last published work period. Okay, no, it looks like Klein did Thor #168 after this and started on Thor #169 (he’s credited, but generally assumed that he didn’t finish the issue) before dying a couple of months after this issue. I gotta say, it’s kind of depressing to imagine a guy dying of Cirrhosis of the liver while still working.” Eileen agreed, “Yeah, that really sucks.”
I changed the subject, “But enough of that depressing shit, let’s look at the fine job he did on this really good comic book. As Smith and Thomas and Klein do a hell of a job on this issue.” Eileen noted, “They literally start with a bang!” I pointed out, “I think Thomas does a great job with Thor in this comic, as he hasn’t had a REAL adventure with the Avengers in quite some time, right? And as a result, he is so out of whack as a teammate in this issue.” Eileen replied, “Yeah, he didn’t even show up to Hank and Jan’s wedding, so I think his last appearance was when Hercules joined? It’s been a while. And Clint of all people has to tell him to cool it, albeit a second too late. He learned his lesson after punching the adamantium last issue, I guess.”
I noted, “It made for a great splash page, but yeah, Thor, kind of dumb there, dude!” I continued, “One area where I just don’t get is how was this new Ultron design ever thought to be a cool design?” Eileen agreed, “It’s so ridiculous. It doesn’t seem to fit Ultron at all.”
Eileen noted, “The idea of Ultron repeatedly dive bombing the team is honestly pretty funny.”
I replied, “Yeah, I really like these pages. This fight sequence is handled very well by Thomas, Smith and Klein. Although I’m a bit confused how Hank is even remotely hanging with Ultron during this fight. Also, Hank, you just heard the guy explain that he’s now made out of adamantium. So your next response is, ‘Let me see if I can break off his twin electrodes again’? Not smart!” Eileen replied, “The whole team is not handling this well. Iron Man does the exact same thing a few pages later!”
I queried, “What’s your take on their confusion over how Ultron created his body? Do note that they’re in the middle of a deadly battle, so they’re probably not thinking totally straight. But with that in mind, do you think it is reasonable that neither Hank nor Tony (or Jan, Clint and Thor, but, well, let’s be honest, if one of them was going to think of this, it would be Hank or Tony) realized that the molecular rearranger was obviously used to create Ultron’s body?” Eileen guessed, “Good question. I think if it was just one of them there, they could maybe be excused for forgetting in the midst of being smacked around. But with two science geniuses available to bounce ideas off each other, yet they both forget it exists? That smells fishy. I bet T’Challa would have remembered.”
I laughed, “Ha! And what’s weird to me is that it’s not really much of a twist that that’s what he used, right? I guess the fear is that it gives away the way to defeat him too easily? Like, let’s say Superman had just been introduced, along with a huge chunk of kryptontie. And then Superman went nuts. And they spent an issue thinking, ‘How can we ever stop Superman?’ And then at the end, someone says, ‘What about the kryptonite?’ Think that this is similar, but at the same time, Ultron HAS the molecular rearranger. So they still have to do a lot of work, so I think they should have acknowledged its existence earlier.” Eileen replied, “Yeah, I think this was probably an attempt to draw out the suspense. But as you noted, there still would be plenty of suspense even if Hank or Tony (or anybody) had remembered the molecular rearranger. So it’s not really necessary and makes them look silly.”
So Ultron is on the loose and seemingly invulnerable. Let’s see how the Vision somehow keeps things from getting even worse…next time!