I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.
I can pinpoint my very first comic book that featured Ultron. Avengers was one of those titles I picked up during my ravenous first feast on superhero comics in the summer of 1980. With limited resources to spread around — even with comics at a mere fifty cents a pop — the title that boasted the inclusion of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” was ideal, given the presence of a bevy of Marvel heroes. Why buy Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor when all of the titular titans were awaiting me in single series that also allowed for a four-color introduction to some of the more modest characters in the publisher’s stable. It was the proverbial one-stop shop. When issue #202 hit newsstands, I was still in my opening months of being a superhero comic collector and still trying to acquaint myself with the vast, colorful collective history of these characters. So when the Avengers tangled with a silver robot with a big, gaping maw, I didn’t realize this was one of their major foes. I just thought he was cool because he was, you know, a silver robot with a big, gaping maw. What can I say? I was ten years old.
Written by David Michelinie (adapted from a plot then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter cooked up for a paperback short story collection that I’d eventually own and unduly cherish) and penciled by George Pérez, the comic found the superheroic cohorts feeling really jumpy at the mere prospect the villainous machine is coming after them.
It turns out that particular act of vigilance was in the face of the Avengers’ trusted butler, Jarvice, pushing a cart down the hallway to deliver some afternoon refreshments. The heroes might have been mighty, but there is some cause to question their judgment and capability when they can’t discern between a service trolley and a murderous robot.
False alarm aside, the Avengers are correct in their worry. And Ultron’s got an especially complicated plot afoot, as Tony Stark relates to his high-tech Dictaphone.
That’s right: it’s not enough that Ultron is a cool, tough robot with blasters and an impenetrable steel hide. He’s also developed mind control, giving him the apparent ability to put his adversaries under his thrall. How can he be stopped with the powers of “psycho-hypnosis” at his disposal?
This was exactly the sort of loopy, anything goes comic book logic that I wanted. I eventually longed for my comic stories to have a veneer of seriousness to them, a spark of feigned adult sensibility that could make me tediously justify the literary value of my favored pursuit. Ih those heady early days, I just wanted headlong craziness. And if at some point Thor just hit something ludicrously hard with his hammer, all the better.
I look back at this story now and I’m amazed at its simplicity. Its genesis as a adaptation of a prose story from a tie-in product makes it just one tiny step removed from the sort of inventory stories that Marvel kept stuffed into drawers in the event the “Dreaded Deadline Doom” meant the planned story wasn’t ready in time from the necessary monthly publications. Still, Michelinie and Pérez were the main creative team at the time. They were utilizing the team’s greatest nemesis in what was basically a done-in-one story, and just a couple months after precisely the sort of double-sized anniversary issue that was usually the province of such a face-off. I didn’t know how good I had it. I much prefer that approach to the brand of agonizingly drawn out saga that typifies such a skirmish these days. I didn’t have time for issue after issue of the same bad guy. I needed to get on to the next adventure. Happily, if only this once, Ultron and the Avengers were kind enough to accommodate my impatience.
Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Contest of Champions by Bill Mantlo and John Romita, Jr.
Daredevil by Frank Miller
Marvel Fanfare by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Paul Smith
Marvel Two-in-One by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Fantaco’s “Chronicles” series
Fantastic Four #200 by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard
The Incredible Hulk #142 by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe
Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum
Godzilla by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe
Giant-Size Avengers #3 by Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas and Dave Cockrum
Alpha Flight by John Byrne
Hawkeye by Mark Gruenwald
Avengers by David Michelinie and George Perez
Justice League by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire
The Thing by Dan Slott and Andrea DiVito
Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude
Marvel Premiere by David Kraft and George Perez
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck
Micronauts by Bill Mantlo and Butch Guice
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
What If? by Mike W. Barr, Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito
Thor by Walt Simonson
Eightball by Dan Clowes
Cerebus: Jaka’s Story by Dave Sim and Gerhard
Iron Man #150 by by David Michelinie, John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton
Bone by Jeff Smith
The Man of Steel by John Byrne
Fantastic Four by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz
“Allien and How to Watch It” by John Severin
Fantastic Four Roast by Fred Hembeck and friends
The Amazing Spider-Man #25 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Marvel Two-in-One #7 by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema
The New Mutants by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod
Dark Horse Presents
Bizarre Adventures #27
Marvel Team-Up #48 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema
Metal Men #20 by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru
The Avengers by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
Fantastic Four by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
American Flagg by Howard Chaykin
Marvel and DC Present by Chris Claremont and Walter Simonson
Batman by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #5 by Alan Kupperberg and Pablo Marcos
Web of Spider-Man by Louise Simonson and Greg LaRocque
Super-Villain Team-Up #12 by Bill Mantlo and Bob Hall
What If? #31 by Rich Margopoulos and Bob Budiansky
Fantastic Four by Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis
Magik by Chris Claremont and John Buscema, Sal Buscema, and Ron Frenz
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell