Comics Primer: What You Need to Know For “Age of Ultron”

Marvel’s latest event is upon us! The “Age of Ultron” has dawned, and you have no idea what’s going on. You might have some questions like: “Who the hell is Ultron?”, “Where did this event come from?” and “Why have I not heard about this?!” Thankfully for you, I am here to answer some of your questions, and get you ready to jump into what should be a very cool event from Marvel Comics.

Who is this Ultron character?

Let’s start with the basic question here. Ultron hasn’t been seen around the Marvel U. for a while now, so some of the new readers may have no clue who he is. Ultron first appeared in Avengers #54, but he truly debuted in Avengers #55. Originally created by Hank Pym (aka Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Yellow Jacket, Golaith, or Wasp, depending on his state of mind), Ultron is an aritifical intelligence that gained self-awareness and that decided all organic life must be destroyed. With an adamantium body, he is one of the Avenger’s most powerful enemies. He is nearly indestructible, but is often ultimately bested by the Avengers. Any time the Avengers do manage to defeat him, however, Ultron is able to transfer his consciousness into a new body.

Now, I hear you. You’re saying, “Oh boy, another mad AI bent on destruction,” but Ultron is not the same as every other AI that’s rebelled against organic life. Ultron has an obsession with the Pyms and their family, giving way to some of the most interesting moments of Ultron’s history as a villain. Ultron is constantly attempting to punish his “father” Hank Pym, while having a strange oedipal fascination with his “mother” Janet Pym (nee van Dyne, aka The Wasp.) He actually created a bride named Jocasta, modeled after Janet — weird, right? Ultron also created a son, The Vision, who betrayed him and joined the Avengers to defeat him.

To summarize: Take a sociopath and give it nearly infinite intelligence, an indestructible body, and the capability to create infinite copies of itself. This is why Ultron is one of my absolute favorite villains.

Why hasn’t this event been teased in the major Marvel Books?

Normally, when Marvel has a big event crossover, they preview the crap out of it in every single one of their books. Almost all the major books like The Avengers begin to plot towards the event in the preceding arc. But this time, it’s as if “Age of Ultron” has come out of the blue.

This is actually new territory for Marvel. This event has been seeded since just after Civil War. Ultron has appeared here and there throughout most of Bendis’ books and even even the “Annihilation Conquest” storyline on the cosmic end of the Marvel U. It’s pretty refreshing to not be bombarded pre-event for once.

Can I skip this event?

Any major comic crossover event is technically optional. They claim “universe shattering changes,” but, 9 times out of 10, everything returns to status quo barring a few minor changes or maybe a token death. You may miss some references in your favorite books for the first arc after an event ends, but you won’t be too too lost.

“Age of Ultron” looks to be unique. From what I can tell, this may be a truly optional event. It looks as if the main story line will have no impact on current story arcs. As for the tie-ins, there will be special issues (designated AU) that connect your favorite book to the AoU storyline. For instance, you will see Fantastic Four #5AU as an “Age of Ultron” story in addition to Fantastic Four #5, continuing the book’s current story arc. Meaning, if you want, you can go about your comic reading business without ever knowing this crossover existed.

But I should stress this: if you have been invested in the Marvel U throughout Bendis’ tenure you would be doing yourself a disservice to let Age of Ultron pass you by. This series looks to put a cap on his entire run.

What trades should I read before I dive into Age of Ultron?

The most important trades for this event would be:

  • Mighty Avengers: The Ultron Initiative
  • Annihilation Conquest
  • Avengers, Vol. 1
  • Avengers, Vol. 4 #12.1
  • Moon Knight, Vol. 1 & 2

If you want to delve further into the history of Ultron then I would recommend:

  • Marvel Masterworks Avengers, Vol. 6 & 7
  • West Coast Avengers: Family Ties
  • Ultron Unlimited

Happy reading!

Written by: Sean Sorensen

This guy loves his comics; probably more than he should. We've heard his comic boxes have comic boxes! From Sweet Tooth to Thor to Central City, Sean reads them all and will let you know which ones you should be checking out!

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