Sunday, September 29, 2013

Before There Was Ultron, There Was--Ultimo!


I don't know why Joss Whedon made such a knee-jerk choice of Ultron as the principal villain in the next Avengers film. If he was so keen on snagging a villain that had a cool "Ult..." sound to their name, apparently he didn't have the presence of mind to go back far enough in Marvel history, since a classic Marvel villain--a tool of the evil Mandarin--was already lumbering around and causing trouble, wreaking havoc with unimaginable power. And since I know that Whedon follows this blog*, I know that he's going to slap his hand against his forehead after reading this post. Hard.

Because BEFORE THERE WAS ULTRON, THERE WAS:



Oh, sure, go ahead--I can hear your guffaws now. "HAR HAR HAR!" you're bellowing. "ULTIMO!? Come on, all you have to do to beat him is to drop him in a volcano!"

Okay, you may have a point there. The destructive force of a volcano has been used more often than not to deal with Ultimo's threat--and, man, there always seems to be a volcano around when a hero needs one. It all started when we were led to believe it was the Mandarin who secretly built and empowered this android, prepping it in a dormant volcano before finally siccing him on the Red Chinese when their army wanted to conscript the Mandarin's services:



And afterward, when the Mandarin captured Tony Stark from the States and bragged to him about next turning Ultimo loose on the world, Iron Man entered the fray and found himself outclassed:



But since Ultimo emerged from a dormant volcano, Iron Man cleverly used the android's deadly eye beams to reactivate the volcano and catch the gargantuan android in the blast:



So despite the incredible destructive power of Ultimo, apparently he's no match for Mother Nature. In fact, Thor also made use of the strategy when the Avengers fought the Mandarin's forces in South America:




So we can assume that the destructive power of an erupting volcano can incapacitate Ultimo, yet ultimately (heh, get it?) only encrypt him until a bad guy salvages him. No, I don't know how Ultimo emerged from a volcano in South America when he had been buried in one located in east Asia. But since the Mandarin often uses a teleportation ray, he probably teleported Ultimo to the new location--just as he moved him back when he needed the android to battle the Yellow Claw, who had usurped control of his castle fortress:




Iron Man was present then, too, and had Sunfire's help in beating Ultimo:




Okay, so you're probably thinking that Ultimo isn't all that hard for Iron Man to put away, so why would Whedon want this loser in the next Avengers film except as a warm-up? Well, hold that thought--because when writer Bill Mantlo steps aboard Invincible Iron Man as the book's regular writer, he gives Iron Man his first knock-down drag-out with this behemoth. And with Ultimo threatening the nation's capital, as the Titanium Man had once done, the stakes for defeating this creature are high, indeed.



First off, how the heck did Ultimo get to the capital? Don't tell me there are volcanos in Washington, D.C.? It looks like arrangements were made to deliver the android by submarine, one which breached our defense perimeter and fired a missile carrying Ultimo toward shore. Once there, the army task force investigating the landing got an unexpected surprise:



And so Ultimo begins a rampage toward the Capitol. And when Iron Man arrives at the scene, he finds his best efforts do no more against Ultimo than they've done before:




And then Iron Man makes a strategic blunder--and an unusual one, given that he's so concerned with keeping Ultimo away from any monuments. But he nevertheless plays the card he's been dealt:



Wait a minute--is this Ultimo Iron Man is fighting, or Giant-Man? Sometimes Ultimo's scale seems to shift peculiarly, since I don't know many volcanos that are only two stories high. At any rate, Iron Man now has a problem many, many stories high to deal with:



Using the thrust of his boot jets, Iron Man is able to push the toppling tower back into place. What keeps it from falling over again, I have no idea. And we don't have time to worry about it--because for both Iron Man and the army, the battle with Ultimo has become a desperate one:



Finally, out of options and his ability to attack dwindling, Iron Man is taken down by this monster's formidable power:



Iron Man looks to be virtually finished. But Ultimo proceeds to make sure of it by finally taking the opportunity to crush the Avenger's armor. And I'm thinking that of all Iron Man's foes, this creature has the power to do it:




Yet, although the newly-casted armor holds, we find that the man inside is under attack from another source:



One of these days, Tony Stark and May Parker are going to have to compare notes. Assuming Iron Man lives to fight another day.  When this story wraps up, we'll find out if Tony is even able to get up off that lawn--and hopefully before Ultimo levels the White House!

*Well, it's not really confirmed that Whedon follows this blog--but I don't know that he doesn't follow this blog. Same difference.

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