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To: James Spader, Re: Ultron – The Avengers #68

September 23, 2013

avengers68

The announcement of Ultron as the big HE’S IN THE TITLE villain in the next Avengers movie came as a bit of a surprise. The senses-shattering credits cameo of Thanos meant that many expected the Mad Titan to be the Big Bad for Marvel’s 2015 follow-up for their unfathomably successful 2012 hit. But there was always a question about using Starfox’s brother in the second movie of a three flick cycle: Wouldn’t that be setting off the big fireworks before the grand finale, before the culmination of the three-picture run?  

So maybe Ultron wasn’t that big a surprise after all. Maybe it’s just a smart move from a company that has made a number of them over the past seven years or so. And Ultron is beloved by many — at least beloved to be hated, as it were — and an A-list villain birthed in the Avengers mythos, back when the comics could still be bought for under two dimes. He’s a good choice — maybe the best one. And last month word seeped out that James Spader, late of Boston Legal/The Practice and Robert California, had been signed to provide the voice. He’s a man perfectly suited for charming evil, so it’s great casting, and a fine addition to the pantheon. (He’s currently starring as a regular non-robot Big Bad in NBC’s The Blacklist, which looks dreadful.)

Often when trying to brief incoming, comics-ignorant cast members on the history of the characters they’re about to portray, productions will provide them with a number of classic tales to give them some perspective. The cackling evil of Ultron in today’s subject, The Avengers #68, which comes at the end of the his second appearance in Marvel U., is hereby humbly submitted for Mr. Spader’s perusal. Not so much for anything that he might want to mimic, but for the sheer cackling goofiness involved, something that the Silver Age lover in all of us would hope he could mine. That it’s written by the great Roy Thomas and penciled by Sal Buscema (with inks by Sam Grainger) is the gravy poured onto the mashed potatoes.

Just look at this first page — you think Joss Whedon’s script might squeeze at least one “PITIFUL HUMAN WORMS!” in there? Dare we hope?:

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Ultron here is actually Ultron-6, a newly resurrected iteration with a body made of indestructible adamantium. Yet even with his new casing and his circuited brain, he’s still not immune from comic (in the absurd sense) screw ups, and the typical villainous NO MATTERs that follow:

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Also — and this isn’t so much a Spader hope but a broader aesthetic hope — could they maybe include a creepy torso-Ultron shot or two? Just maybe?:

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In this issue, Ultron makes a big, explosive entrance at the United Nations, vaulting up out of the floor and shattering the podium in the General Assembly. Which is fantastic, and a fantasy for the “U.S. out of the U.N.!” crowd. But for our purposes, this full-page blast is notable for its SNIVELING HUMAN INSECTS sighting:

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Oh, he’s also calling himself the Ultimate Ultron here, nomenclature that would be confusing about four decades later.

You know one thing we didn’t hear in the first movie? Someone barking out AVENGERS ASSEMBLE at the top of their lungs. I’d like to nominate Thor for the job, and please note Ultron’s taunting jibes when confronted with a hurled Mjolnir:

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Chances are Clint Barton will only be Hawkeye in the next movie, and not in his Goliath guise — hell, we won’t even have Henry Pym/Ant-Man introduced by the time Phase Two comes to a close. But could there be any character more worthy of a Goliath I SQUASH THAT BUG splat than Ultron?:

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And you thought the Hulk rag-dolling Loki was entertainment.

The first Avengers II teaser from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con had Iron Man’s mask morphing and twisting in Ultron’s face. His defeat in this comic (read it yourself to discover the lame way he’s overcome — it’s Borgish in its way), is a contorted converse:

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And that’s it. Not much, but an aperitif for Mr. Spader and anyone else interested. It should also be noted that this post corrects a stunning Ultron deficiency on this blog, as he had only appeared once years ago, in the very infancy of the site — and in a dopey PSA Spider-Man book (nobly) meant to get more minorities in engineering fields to boot. Apologies to you, Ultron, from this humble human worm/insect/whatever.

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