MANTIS 20: ULTRON VS THE AVENGERS, THE FANTASTIC FOUR AND THE INHUMANS

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Fantastic Four 150

FANTASTIC FOUR Volume 1, Number 150 (September 1974)  Ultron-7: He’ll Rule The World

Just like during the Avengers/ Defenders War this crossover story alternated between the Avengers’ comic book and in this case the Fantastic Four’s comic book. In fact it was the 150th Anniversary Issue for the F.F, an appropriate setting for the momentous events in this story.

NOTE: This was back when Ultron was still numbering his iterations, hence him going by “Ultron-7” here. For instance, Ultron-6 was the first time the android villain used adamantium for his body and Ultron-5 was when he created the Vision to use against his archenemies the Avengers.

Ironically, though today Marvel’s fictional metal adamantium is mostly associated with Wolverine’s claws and skeleton it was actually introduced as a new discovery in the pages of The Avengers in the 1960s. In fact it was introduced in the very story in which Ultron stole some of the indestructible metal to make himself even more dangerous.

After this current Ultron-7 story, when Ultron returned for the long-running Bride of Ultron storyline he was no longer  numbering his versions.   

Ultron 7 againULTRON-7: HE’LL RULE THE WORLD

Synopsis: We pick up where we left off in our previous installment, in Atillan aka The Great Refuge, hidden home of the Inhumans. It’s the night before the former Avenger Quicksilver and the Inhuman named Crystal are to be married.

Crystal has been kidnapped by the gigantic robot called Omega, but after a battle with the Inhumans plus the wedding guests – the Avengers and Fantastic Four – the enormous figure pulled off its mask to reveal that it was really Ultron-7. (Nicely, this was early enough in Marvel’s history that Ultron had previously never fought the Fantastic Four OR the Inhumans, just the Avengers.)

Ultron-7 taunts the assembled heroes plus the thousands of terrified citizens of Atillan about how they gathered for a wedding but instead of that joyous occasion have found only horror, defeat and death.

Mantis againHe revives the heroes he had put into comas last time around – MANTIS, Iron Man, Medusa, Quicksilver and the Swordsman. Meanwhile the Thing rushes forward to attack Ultron-7 but is easily defeated as the villain reminds him that the Omega body now has all of HIS (Ultron’s) powers, not the lesser powers it used to have.

Before the Thing or any other heroes can renew the attack, Thor, Mister Fantastic and Triton remind everyone that only Ultron-7 knows where the kidnapped Crystal is being held. The villain has the edge until they can learn if she is even still alive.      

Nearby, the sorceress Agatha Harkness, elderly nurse for Franklin Richards, tries to stay out of sight with the boy. As I covered last time around Franklin – the son of Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman – is still in the coma that Mr F zapped him into to keep the world safe from Franklin’s mutant mind powers.

Those powers are so potent that every mind on Earth could be destroyed by them, so the boy was put into that coma while Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic) sought a cure.

Back with our heroes, Mr F wants to know how Ultron-7 came to get his brand-new, huge head and how that head came to be attached to the robot Omega’s body. Ultron-7 obliges, since the answers will not help the assembled heroes in any way.  

The android villain explains how Maximus the Mad, Black Bolt’s insane brother and the arch-enemy of the Inhumans, amused himself in his luxurious prison cell with what looked like harmless, mad tinkering. In truth, Maximus was mixing in a few REAL experiments with the pointless, deranged playing.

The madman’s monitoring of the outside world enabled him to find the decapitated head of Ultron-6, which was never recovered after the Avengers defeated him. Using the futuristic Kree technology of the Great Refuge Maximus made a larger version of the head, then transferred Ultron’s artificially intelligent mind into it.

He then secretly attached it to the giant body of the defeated Omega robot, expecting to use Ultron-7 as a weapon to overthrow Black Bolt and take over the Great Refuge. Naturally, Ultron-7 struck down Maximus the Mad and proceeded to pursue his own ambitions.

The arrival of the Avengers as wedding guests would enable him to get revenge on them, too, along the way. Ultron-7 plans to destroy all the assembled heroes, then obliterate the thousands of inhabitants of the Great Refuge and then use the city’s  advanced technology to complete his eternal quest to wipe out all human life on Earth. 

With Atillan’s scientific resources at his disposal, he might even take to the stars when he’s done, intent on obliterating the humanoid “disease” on every inhabited planet he finds.

All of this blows Mr Fantastic’s faint hope that it wasn’t really Ultron but just a hoax engineered by Maximus. Ultron-7 taunts the heroes that no, it really IS him, and then he attacks the heroes and every other person in the Great Refuge.

Ultron-7 is using his deadliest weapon, his encephalo-ray, which will invade every one of their minds, driving them insane and reducing them to gibbering idiots – the easier to kill them all.

Since this is the Fantastic Four’s anniversary issue, the deus ex machina that saves the world also serves to resolve the long-running FF storyline about little Franklin’s plight. Ultron-7’s psychic attack even penetrates the little boy’s coma and causes him to wake up, feeling agony like the others are suffering.

In typical childlike fashion the little boy instinctively lashes out at the source of the pain – in this case Ultron-7 – and in the best “let’s have a happy ending” storytelling tradition Franklin’s traumatic unleashing of his powers not only destroys Ultron-7 but completely drains his own psychic abilities. The little boy is now out of his coma AND harmless to the world around him.

Ultron-7’s giant form collapses in the streets of Atillan and our heroes begin to shake off the agony of the android’s attack. They gather around the fallen villain’s motionless body and Agatha Harkness comes out of hiding, holding little Franklin’s hand as she explains what just happened.  

Reed and Sue and FranklinMr Fantastic and Invisible Woman are overjoyed to have their son safely restored to them as the Swordsman, the Human Torch and the Thing make with a few gruff, macho-but-tearing-up remarks about what a happy day it looks like it’s going to be after all. And yes, the sun is just then rising over the city in a scene that would be cinematically perfect.

NOW, to further increase the resell value of the anniversary issue to wrap it all up we get to see the actual wedding of Quicksilver and the recovered Crystal. It may be later the same day or the next day, but the wreckage from the battle with Ultron-7 and before that the Alpha Primitives has been all cleaned up.

In addition the Thing (Ben Grimm) had time to send for his blind sculptress girlfriend Alicia Masters. We aren’t told but I guess Gorgon and Lockjaw could have teleported to go get her and teleport back to make it faster. For a character bit Alicia – who is being dressed up as a bridesmaid – wistfully ponders if she and Ben will ever get married like Pietro and Crystal.

Winged Inhuman heralds are flying throughout the city, blowing their horns to summon all the guests and citizens to the site of the wedding ceremony. Reed and Sue Richards (Mr F and Invisible Woman) reminisce about their own wedding day and the trouble they had from Dr Doom’s plot to kill them. He stretches his arm a loooong distance to pick some flowers for her as a cutesy romantic bit.

Elsewhere in Atillan, Thor and Iron Man, the two closest friends on the Avengers, have been hanging out together to pass the time. As the heralds fly by blasting on their horns the pair sadly contemplate their own romantic difficulties – Iron Man is still pining for Pepper Potts, who married his chauffer Happy Hogan and is still mourning the dead Marianne Rogers.

Thor commiserates over his difficulties with Jane Foster and with his Asgardian romantic interest Sif. (Sif is actually Thor’s WIFE in Norse myths. Her very NAME means “wife” in fact.) The two regret that not everyone can be as lucky as Quicksilver and Crystal and begin to make their way to the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Medusa consoles the Human Torch, whom Crystal dumped awhile back, telling him that her cousin Crystal really DID love him, despite his doubts, but that people change. She promises to juggle her duties as Maid of Honor AND friend to Johnny by trying to keep him cheered up during the festivities. 

Crystal and Quicksilver weddingThe ceremony takes place in a lavish hall with all the heroes in attendance. A minister from among the Inhumans performs the ceremony, following which Black Bolt gives his kingly blessing to the union. Back at Avengers Mansion, Pietro and Wanda’s father Bob Frank (the Whizzer) watches the ceremony from his hospital bed on the satellite hookup Tony Stark set up for him and Jarvis the butler.

The time comes for the bride and groom to depart, so Crystal’s pet Lockjaw teleports himself, Quicksilver and Crystal off to a secret location for their honeymoon. Johnny Storm assures Medusa that he truly has made peace with the situation as the story comes to an end. +++

NEXT TIME – FINALLY – FOR REALS – WE ENTER THE HOME STRETCH IN THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA! THE MEAT OF THE STORY GETS ROLLING AND WILL NOT LET UP FOR SEVERAL INSTALLMENTS, WRAPPING UP THE MYSTERIES OF MANTIS, THE VISION’S ODD PROBLEMS AND SOME OTHER LOOSE ENDS DATING BACK TO THE AVENGERS-DEFENDERS WAR AND THE KREE-SKRULL WAR BEFORE IT.

(Seriously, from my research for this I would definitely say that if the Celestial Madonna Saga had been the final story EVER for the Avengers it would have been the perfect tale to go out on.) 

I’LL COVER THE NEXT ISSUE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.

FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MAIN LIST OF CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE

FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MEMBERS OF INFINITE HORIZON CLICK HERE

FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK  HERE

FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE:  Superheroes 

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “MANTIS 20: ULTRON VS THE AVENGERS, THE FANTASTIC FOUR AND THE INHUMANS

  1. Pingback: THE MANTIS SAGA: CHAPTER LINKS | Balladeer's Blog

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