Ultron Unlimited is a 1999 storyline of The Avengers, written by Kurt Busiek, with art by George Perez. It takes place in Avengers volume 3, issues #19-22.
Ultron, the killer robot, sends packs of robots to abduct his creator Henry Pym (working at a lab) and the Grim Reaper (Wonder Man's brother, held in a madhouse). The Wasp asks the Avengers for help, but before they can they are informed of an attack at a Wakandian factory. They head there, thinking that it's Ultron, only to discover Alkhema (another killer robot, rival of Ultron). They defeat her and discover Ultron's whereabouts: he has completely obliterated the tiny nation of Slorenia, killing every human being within its borders.
The Wasp, the Vision, Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man seek clues at Pym's lab, but are attacked and abducted by another pack of robots, each one a previous incarnation of Ultron. The remaining Avengers head a UN military mission to secure Slorenia and destroy the mad robot.
Ultron has a problem: even if he succeeds in destroying the human race, the robots he would replace it with would merely be extensions of himself, leaving him alone in the world. A recent discovery of Pym would allow Ultron to create countless random brain patterns from a small sample group, all of them subject to a single "hive master." And for the base of those brain patterns, Ultron selects people close to him (his "family" in a sense):
- Henry Pym, his creator,
- The Wasp, the former wife of Pym, his "mother" (the detail that they divorced is of no concern to his mania)
- The Vision, his "son,"
- The Scarlet Witch, the Vision's former wife, his "daughter-in-law" (again, they are divorced, but ask him if he cares)
- Wonder Man, whose brain patterns were used to build the Vision
- The Grim Reaper, Ultron's first human associate and brother of Wonder Man
The other Avengers appear to destroy Ultron after a desperate battle, but then, another Ultron appears. And another. And another, and dozens, hundreds, thousands.
The Vision manages to break free, and liberates the Grim Reaper, who frees the others, while the other Avengers finally clear their way to the main Ultron. And yet, even with all of them together, Ultron is still invincible. They are saved when Justice, who was left behind with a broken leg, arrives with "Antarctic vibranium" that melts all metals, even adamantium.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! had an episode that was loosely based on this storyline.
Ultron Unlimited provides examples of:
- Big Damn Heroes:
- "Ultron. We would have words with thee". Can there be a better example?
- Also for the Scarlet Witch, with her intervention in the battle with Alkhema.
- The Cavalry: The arrival of Justice, who brought what was needed to defeat Ultron.
- Continuity Nod: The story contains several references (direct and subtle) to the old battles of Ultron.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The final fight against Ultron Prime. The narration points out that even if the Avengers weren't exhausted from their ordeals, Ultron would still have mopped the floor with them.
- Deus ex Machina: The use of "Antartic Vibranium" in the end.
- Averted: The use of Antarctic Vibranium, aka Anti-Metal, was foreshadowed as early as ten issues before its use when a crate of it was recovered during a raid on an AIM warehouse. It was even Justice who identified it and warned his teammates not to disturb the case or else it would obliterate all metal objects in the vicinity. Justice is seen going over recent mission reports during the Ultron battle since he's sidelined with an injury at the time, which is what made him think to use it. The Anti-Metal itself has been around since the 60's and 70's Ka-Zar comics.
- Evil vs. Evil: The conflict between Ultron and Alkhema. Alkhema is not against Ultron because of thinking that killing millions of people is wrong: she's against him because she wants to kill the same millions one at a time, for more fun, and to spoil his plan of killing the Avengers by killing them first.
- Interrupted Cooldown Hug: Gloriously, lovingly subverted. The Vision escapes from his bonds, and tries to reason with Ultron - trying to appeal to Ultron's desire for companionship and family. Vision extends his hand just as the Avengers outside begin to charge in... only for Ultron to laser Vision in the face before the Avengers can barge in and ruin the moment.
- Large Ham: Firebrand. Only speaks in shouted psudo-revolutionary nonsense.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Avengers' only hope was to keep Ultron busy, until the Scarlet Witch could use her chaos magic to force Ultron to malfunction and break. But she was badly hurt and dizzy, and her spell came out wrong: instead of breaking him, she made him even more powerful.
- Not So Above It All: Black Panther. As the text pointed, he's a stoic hero, who moves in silence and he's not given to unnecesary talking... but broke his silence two times in a row. First he was surprised by an explosion, and said "Eh?". And then, he saw the enemy and asked "You?"
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "Ultron. We would have words with thee."
- Red Shirt Reporter: The CNN was broadcasting the destruction of Slorenia, and noticed a figure standing at the ruins of the parliament. It was Ultron.Ultron: Hm? What's this? A cameraman? How utterly... human (cue laser bast, and then CNN experienced technical difficulties)
- Kurt Busiek added a new depth to the relation of Ultron and Pym. He had never told anyone, but Pym built Ultron using his own brain patterns to shape his personality.
- Another one: After the appearence of Ultron, Pym had a mental breakdown and create a Split Personality named "Yellowjacket". It happened a few issues afterwards in real-world publication, but it had never point as a consequence of the previous reveal.
- Something We Forgot:
- The escape of the Grim Reaper during the curb-stomp battle against Ultron. Justified, in a moment like that who would care for such details? But they forgot to recapture him before going home. This point was acknowledged some issues later, when the Reaper returned as a villain.
- Also for the chips with the recorded bran patterns of Ultron's "family", retrieved by Alkhema.
- Stripperiffic: The Wasp's costume during this adventure, which was previously used in the 1970s. It seems a bit inappropriate when the Wasp is so distraught.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: An amusing case. Ultron is watching the activities of the Avengers... and, in turn, Alkhema is watching Ultron
- Throwaway Country: Slorenia (no relation with Slovenia)
- Villainous Rescue: The Grim Reaper was released by the Vision, who interfaced with Ultron's computers, and fired a laser torch to liberate the Avengers. His motivation was simple: he was in Ultron's lair, in a dead country, without his scythe (remember that he lacks a hand), helpless against a killer robot... who else was going to save his life? He did not stay for the fight, he freed the Avengers and escaped.