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Avengers – Ultron 5 & The Ultron Imperative

You’d think Hank Pym would be perfectly happy with his life.  He has a hot wife, he’s a super genius, he can turn into a giant, and he control ants with his mind.  But no, the guy has to reach a little higher, and build an army of robots.  A smart fellow like him should know that armies of robots just don’t turn out well, especially when you’re a superhero.  Yet here we go again with the classic Avengers storyline: Ultron.

One of the best villains in the team’s rogues gallery, Ultron just had to make it into the series, and the producers of the show have savored the slow build-up to this two-part storyline.  Fans of the comics have known what was coming since we first laid eyes on Hank’s mechanical prison guards, but younger fans who may not have been aware of Ultron from the comics have had a nice plot twist from these episodes.

In Ultron 5, Hank Pym learns the valuable lesson that “violence is always the answer.”  It’s hard to decipher what the writer is going for in this story at first glance, but it certainly seems like they are condemning Hank for trying to reason with his enemies, or hoping to rehabilitate criminals.  This is seen at the top of the show in the confrontation with the Serpent Society where trying to talk to the bad guys turns out to be worse than useless.  Granted, violence is frequently the best solution to disagreements (especially with mutant snake men), but the message seen over and over in this episode is that you shouldn’t even try to find other solutions. 

Again this “punch first, talk never” mentality pops up with Ultron later in the episode; after all the Avengers go through with Ultron, the solution turns out to be HULK SMASH!

Aside from this questionable lesson, the episode is generally enjoyable.  There is a lot of humor in the episode; the animators inject some light-heartedness into the fight with the Serpent Society by showing Captain America staggering around with a snake guy trying to swallow him headfirst.  Then there’s Iron Man’s reaction to the Hulk's dramatic entrance when he smashes through the doors to the lab.  “Why would you do that?  The doors open automatically.”

Of course it’s always good for a chuckle when a really obscure villain shows up for a cameo, and this episode not only gives us the goofy snake men, but also the third-string villains The Super Apes.  It’s not all light-hearted, though.  Thor dies in this episode!  Well, not really, but it was still a grim scene, even though he gets better in time for the big climax in the next episode, The Ultron Imperative.

In The Ultron Imperative, the show picks up right where we left off.  Like Thor, Ultron is also not quite as dead as previously believed.  Now back as Ultron 6, he’s out to pull the ultimate supervillain plot: The destruction of all life on Earth!

Much of the episode boils down to action scenes that are very reminiscent of the previous episode, as well as the Kang storyline.  It can grow a little boring watching the team blast away at an invulnerable villain who is protected by an impenetrable force bubble, and this episode has a little too much of that.  What is good about the action scenes are the appearances of the alternate Iron Man suits, like the Hulkbuster Armor, and the invisible stealth suit.

Even though the Avengers save the day, and stop the world’s nuclear arsenal from destroying the world, the way they save the world pretty much means that there are thousands of un-detonated nuclear warheads raining down all over the planet, leaving tons of weapons-grade plutonium accessible to ne’er-do-wells throughout the world.

Both episodes in the Ultron story were written by the same writer, and in the second half we can finally see where he was going with Hank’s pacifism.  In the first battle with Ultron there was the clear message that Hank is foolish for trying to find non-violent ways to help the world, but this time around Ultron isn’t defeated by brute force.  He’s brought down by logic.

Hank saves the world. With Science!

Despite being one of my least favorite storylines the series has done, this was still an enjoyable romp through the Marvel Universe.  Even when The Avengers has a bit of a slump, it remains better than most of the superhero action being televised these days.  Fortunately, the denouement of this story sets up a three-part storyline dealing with Asgard, which brings most of the show’s outstanding storylines to a close. Read our review of the three-part Season Finale.



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