A post from my defunct Marvel blog of years past, part of a series examining good comic books I had a hand in.
Another day, another Good Comic I Had A Hand In. Today it’s AVENGERS v3 #22, the climax of the “Ultron Unlimited” storyline by Kurt Busiek and George Perez.
Sometimes an issue just clicks. By this point, the AVENGERS team had done close to two years worth of stories–some of them good and some of them misfires to one extent or another. And we’d embarked on “Ultron Unlimited” in a deliberate attempt to ramp up the stakes, to answer all of those fans who said that the run up to this point had felt too safe, or too small. But on this issue, everything just plain worked–and I knew it even before the book went to press.
I remember how exciting it was when, earlier, Kurt and I latched onto the idea that Ultron had the brain patterns of Hank Pym, in the same way that the Vision had Wonder Man’s brain patterns. That reveal was low-hanging fruit, something that seems so obvious in retrospect, that explains so much about what drives Ultron and why he’s such a personal foe for Hank, but nobody’d ever connected the dots before.
I love that all of the big guns get a cool moment as the Avengers do battle with the thousand Ultrons, particularly Iron Man, who’d often been overshadowed by Thor or Cap or one of the others in the fight sequences. We dreamed up a nice Iron Man-specific attack for him. And I also loved it when we hit on the notion of the Scarlet Witch using her hex power, and it having a detrimental effect on the Avengers’ efforts, especially after so many issues where she’d saved the day. We’d always heard that her hex-power was uncontrollable, but had never really seen it this way, and it was an excellent way to raise the stakes at a crucial moment. And having Justice bring in Antarctic Vibranium, the Anti-Metal, to destabilize Ultron’s adamantium form (and establishing that it would work on adamantium) was also a good bit, coming straight out of Marvel history, and reinforcing the particular strengths that Vance Astrovik brought to the group.
The moment where the tattered Avengers confront the true Ultron won us “Best Moment of the Year” in the Wizard fan awards.
Other, smaller stuff: I remember we got some particularly lousy color separations on this issue. This was back in the day where our colorists weren’t working on computer to create their own separations, but would instead create a color guide, sort of like a miniature painting on a copy of the original art, for the separators to use as a guide. This meant that even the best colorists were largely at the mercy of hourly wage-slave technicians–you never knew quite what you were going to get back, and this issue suffered in the coloring as a result (particularly the double-page spread with the thousand Ultrons swarming the Avengers.)
The monochromatic color scheme on the cover was suggested by then-Marvel editor Rubin Diaz. He happened to come by the office when we were looking at the piece, and opined that it would look cool if we did it all in reds with the exception of the central Ultron figure. That was a good call.