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Ultron-5 (Avengers enemy) (Marvel Comics)

Ultron-5


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Ultron is one of the classic nihilistic robot baddies, and a traditional Big Bad for the Avengers. He’s been around since 1968, and has held his rank as a powerful master villain ever since.

Given his long history and constantly-changing robot bodies, Ultron is best approached through a chronological series of character profiles:

  1. Ultron 1 through 5 — this here writeup
  2. Ultron-6
  3. Ultron-7
  4. Ultron 8 through 12

Background

  • Real Name: N.A.
  • Marital Status: N/A
  • Known Relatives: Hank Pym (“father”), The Vision (“son”)
  • Group Affiliation: None, formerly the second Masters of Evil
  • Base Of Operations: New York City
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 535 lbs
  • Eyes: Silver Hair: None


Powers and Abilities

Ultron-5 is agile and superhumanly strong. He outmatches the Vision (who was himself equal to or slightly stronger than Iron Man’s Golden Avenger Armor) in one-to-one combat.

Though this robotic form lacked the adamantium  that would make his later versions nigh-invulnerable, his body is still robust enough to weather Klaw’s most powerful sonic blasts without harm.

The two electrodes on either side of his head are his only weak points. But even these are highly resistant to harm — the Vision had to trigger a massive explosion to exploit this weakness as his own offensive abilities were not powerful enough.

Oddly enough, though the electrodes on his head were his sole weak spot, Ultron’s head itself is extremely durable. Even an explosion powerful enough to destroy Ultron’s body would leave the head intact and functional.

Energy beams

Through energy emitters in his eyes Ultron-5 can fire shock-bolts (“ultro-blasts”). These are strong enough to stun Goliath at his full height with a single hit and disable him with but one or two more. They are apparently not powerful enough to seriously affect the Vision, since Ultron resorted to other measures when fighting the synthezoid .

These emitters also allow Ultron to probe the minds of others (“encephalo-beam”) or compel them to obey his post-hypnotic suggestions (“hypno-beam”). These latter two abilities only have a range of a few feet, so Ultron usually stuns opponents with ultro-blasts to render them immobile before using either one.

Engineering

Like his creator, Ultron is a gifted scientist and gadgeteer. In addition to creating his own devices, Ultron borrowed numerous experimental technologies initiated by Hank Pym and brought them to fruition. These included sequential revisions of his own robotic form and the use of recorded human brain patterns as a foundation for creating artificial intelligences.

Though he was quite arrogant about his abilities, Ultron can recognize when his talents are not sufficient in these areas and will coerce capable humans into assisting him. Ultron also makes a habit of planting post-hypnotic suggestions in various people so that if he is defeated one of those people will eventually rebuild him.

Base and equipment

To ensure that his base would not be tampered with when he was absent or disabled, Ultron equipped it with numerous death-traps. Furthermore, he deliberately designed them to be so complex that the machinery within could not be dismantled without great potential for inflicting explosive collateral damage on the surrounding vicinity.

While in the guise of the Crimson Cowl, Ultron used a gas-pellet pistol to put opponents to sleep. It could also fire lethal gas pellets.

A scout ship used by an early Ultron

Ultron-5’s scout aircraft.

Ultron built an unusual scout aircraft, which he provided to the new Masters of Evil as a conveyance. The ship’s communication equipment was designed to allow Ultron to internally monitor the ship at all times. It included a cage with laser beams.

Another asset was the brutish, unnamed robot who attacked Giant Man after he fell into a trapdoor in Ultron’s base. Stunned by the fall and surprised by the android’s attack, Giant-Man was swiftly beaten by this foe.

When the Vision triggered the explosion that disabled Ultron, the android was shut down as well, apparently dependent on either the systems in question or on Ultron himself to remain active.


History

While experimenting with technology from the Dragon Man robot, Hank Pym created a robot with a simple artificial intelligence.

Pym drastically underestimated how quickly the robot’s intellect would develop. The automaton activated itself and in a matter of seconds progressed from infantile speech to adult diction. Regrettably for Pym, the emergent intelligence identified him as its father and developed a “mechanized Oedipus Complex .”

The robot tried to kill Pym. Despite his best efforts as Giant Man, it quickly rendered him unconscious.

Into this world we’re born

Though the battle was brief, in that time the robot’s inexplicable hatred had already progressed beyond the simple need to kill Pym to a more complex sadism. Modulating its offensive ultro-blast into a hypno-beam, the robot erased Pym’s memory of the incident and ordered Pym to abandon the lab.

When Pym regained his faculties, he assumed that one of his experiments had somehow backfired and damaged the lab. He then decided to move his research back to Avengers Mansion in accordance with his post-hypnotic commands. After Pym had moved out, the robot returned (Avengers vol. 1, #58 (flashback)).

Continuity notes

Though it was not revealed until Avengers vol. 3, #22, Ultron’s intelligence was based on Hank Pym’s own brain patterns. This process was likely an early version of the one by which Ultron would later implant Simon Williams’s mental patterns into the Vision.

Pym explained that he did not reveal this due to shame at seeing what his personality was like stripped of conscience and Janet van Dyne speculated that this cruel revelation was partially responsible for Pym’s subsequent mental breakdowns.

Also, some of the details of the Vision’s construction have been retconned at least twice since it was initially presented, but I have kept to the original version as that is the source material covered herein.

Restoring the facilities, the robot spent the next 3 months working on a new design for itself. Finally, in a 24-hour period the robot utterly rebuilt its body into a humanoid form and named itself Ultron-5.

Paranoid synthezoid

After this process was completed, Ultron-5 sought an android to remake as a son of sorts. Thus, he hunted down the android expert known as the Mad Thinker. The Thinker offered Ultron the inactive body of the original Human Torch, not needing it himself and wishing to avoid a fight with Ultron.

Despite six months of work, Ultron’s technological expertise was not sufficient to reactivate the Torch. The android was not constructed of traditional electronics but was instead a synthezoid — a human being made of artificial tissues. Stymied by the android’s plastoid construction, Ultron finally realized he would need the original inventor’s help.

Kidnapping Phineas Horton, Ultron forced the scientist to spend the next few weeks repairing and modifying the Torch’s body. The face was changed to divorce the android from his previous existence, but Ultron had the robot’s skin tone altered to a flame-red hue as a subtle jest on its true origins.

When the android was finally activated, Ultron was outraged to discover that Horton had not overwritten the Torch’s original personality as requested. Ultron killed Horton and deactivated the Torch.

Vision quest

Though he was not a skilled enough programmer to build a new artificial intelligence, Ultron was able to use Simon Williams’s mental patterns as a base, much as Hank Pym had done when creating Ultron (Avengers vol. 1, #135 (flashback)).

Ultron sitting and spying on the Avengers

Putting his now-complete android “son” in storage for the moment, Ultron sought out people with the power and the motivation to destroy the Avengers. His goal was to make his father’s demise as cruel as possible.

Masters of Evil

To this end, Ultron adopted the guise of the Crimson Cowl. He then revived the Masters of Evil with a collection of supervillains who had previously fought the Avengers individually. He secured Klaw’s, the Melter’s, and the Radioactive Man’s cooperation by freeing them from imprisonment and offering them the change to get revenge against the Avengers.

Through means unknown, Ultron likewise contacted Whirlwind and brought him into the fold.

Ultron also attempted to recruit the villainous Black Knight. His letter was instead received by Dane Whitman, that villain’s nephew, who had inherited his uncle’s properties and intended to recreate the Black Knight as a heroic persona. Whitman accepted the invitation, planning to betray the Masters of Evil to the Avengers once he gathered more information.

As he assembled the new Masters of Evil, Ultron also cultivated Edwin Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, as a spy. Having learned that Jarvis needed money to pay for his ailing mother’s medical bills, Ultron offered the necessary funds in exchange for information on the Avengers Mansion’s recently upgraded security systems.

After Jarvis provided this information, the Crimson Cowl took him captive.

Continuity note

Years later in Avengers vol. 1 #280, it was further explained that Jarvis had also been hypnotized by Ultron not to take more logical steps such as asking Tony Stark for the needed funds. That made Jarvis believe that the Avengers did not truly like or respect a lowly butler enough to help him.

Ultron likely took this intermediate step (rather than simply making Jarvis a completely brainwashed slave) because the subtler conditioning was less likely to be resisted by Jarvis or discovered by the Avengers. Jarvis also believed that even with the information he provided to the Masters that the Avengers would prevail against them.

Now knowing the full extent of the Masters of Evil’s plans, the new Black Knight raced to warn the Avengers. He was ambushed at Avengers Mansion by the Masters, the Crimson Cowl having anticipated Whitman’s true intentions.

The Masters attack

The Masters simultaneously launched their assault against the Avengers. They managed to capture the entire team, though the Black Knight was able to escape in the ensuing confusion.

To further confuse the issue of his true identity and emotionally torture the Avengers, Ultron then had the now-hypnotized Jarvis “reveal” that the butler himself was the Crimson Cowl. Jarvis also unveiled Ultron, albeit in the guise of a mere robotic proxy for the “true” Cowl (Avengers vol. 1, #54).

Ultron threatening, and Kirby dots

After the Masters of Evil brought the captured Avengers back to their base via Scout Ship One, Ultron announced the next stage of his plan. He intended to place a hydrogen bomb aboard the vessel along with the captive Avengers and hold New York City ransom.

If the government refused his demands, he would detonate the bomb directly over the Empire State Building. If they conceded, he would dispose of both the bomb and the Avengers in the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The butler does it

Before he sent the ship to take its place over the Empire State Building, Ultron could not resist one last act of sadism. He undid Jarvis’s hypnosis so that the hapless butler and the Avengers could suffer the knowledge of what Jarvis had done, revealed that he was in fact the actual Crimson Cowl, and then brutally struck Jarvis down.

Jarvis managed to subsequently escape, with the Masters erroneously believing he had died in the attempt.

Stumbling back toward Avengers Mansion, Jarvis met up with the Black Knight and directed him toward the Masters’ hidden airship. The Black Knight attacked and was able to free the Avengers. The assembled heroes defeated the surprised Masters of Evil.

Ultron evaded capture by virtue of having already left for his hidden base from which he had intended to issue his extortion demands (Avengers vol. 1, #55).

An unearthly vision

Though momentarily thwarted, Ultron activated his robot son, brainwashed the synthezoid into hating the Avengers, and sent it to assassinate the team. The synthezoid, dubbed the Vision by Janet Van Dyne, mysteriously lost consciousness while attacking Goliath and the Wasp in their home.

This turned out to be a preprogrammed ruse. As Ultron had anticipated, the Avengers took the Vision into their mansion to examine him. Now past the mansion’s otherwise formidible security measures, the Vision regained consciousness and attacked the assembled team.

The fight ended when Vision spontaneously broke Ultron’s conditioning, his innate conscience overriding his programmed enmity, and led the Avengers to Ultron’s new base.

Unbeknownst to the Vision, Ultron had anticipated the eventuality of the Vision’s defeat. His leading of the team to Ultron’s base was part of a second programmed reaction and left the team caught in one of Ultron’s death-traps.

The Vision escaped, confronted Ultron. The synthezoid destroyed the insane robot by tricking the enraged Ultron into inadvertently charging into volatile machinery, the subsequent explosion tearing the automaton apart (Avengers vol. 1, #57).

The truth won’t set you free

After this confrontation, the Avengers were able to examine the remains of Ultron’s base. Thus they could finally deduce his origin, aided by Pym’s use of a special device to unlock the memories that Ultron had hypnotically blocked.

The full origin of the Vision’s construction was also revealed and the Avengers accepted the grateful synthezoid as a teammate (Avengers vol. 1, #58).

Though believed to be destroyed, Ultron’s disembodied head had survived the explosion. Thus would the evil automaton return to plague the Avengers again (see the Ultron-6 writeup).


Description

A sleek chrome humanoid robot, Ultron-5’s body is mostly featureless beyond the segmenting of his armor plating. His head is a mechanized abstract of a human skull with two small antennae (electrodes) where the ears would be on a person. His eyes glowed when he used his encephalo-beam to hypnotize subjects.

This robotic form was typical of most of the versions of Ultron that would follow.

As the Crimson Cowl, Ultron wore a loose-fitting set of dark red clothing, gloves, and a long cape with a large cowl and a heavy scarf wrapped around his face. This ensemble left all of him covered except for his eyes, which were still concealed in the shadows of his cowl.

Unlike some fictional robots, Ultron’s movements, voice, and speech patterns were very naturalistic, enough so that the simple act of donning the robes of the Crimson Cowl was sufficient to hide his artificial nature.


Personality

The overriding drive of Ultron’s psyche is his bitter hatred of his creator, Hank Pym. Not satisfied with merely killing Pym, Ultron’s plots included the deaths of Pym’s friends and loved ones.

This contempt for his “father” (as seen in very Oedipal terms) extended to a general contempt of all humanity. This hostility even led Ultron to claim superiority in respects that were clearly unjustified, such as mocking humans for their emotional reactions while himself being easily driven to irrational acts of rage.

Ultron charges through a wall and machinery

Unfortunately for Ultron, his driving need to demonstrate his superiority over humans often causes him to surrender some of the advantages of his planning. This usually takes the form of Ultron exposing his own subterfuges in order to impress upon others the depth of his planning.

Another frequent example is his stereotypical supervillain trait of leaving his enemies alive so that he can revel in their humiliation rather than quickly disposing of them. This sadistic need to gloat often provides his opponents the time needed to escape their captivity and undo Ultron’s efforts.

Plans within plans

Ultron is very much a “wheels within wheels” type of planner. His plots always have multiple layers so that if one gambit fails, another means to achieve his immediate goals is still viable.

When possible, he designs events so that if one means does not work it actually facilitates the next attempt, such as when he programmed the Vision to lead the Avengers into a trap if the Vision’s initial attack failed to defeat them.

Because of his meticulous attention to detail and excellent observational skills, his plans are intricately scheduled and exploit the psychology of all parties involved to a considerable extent. This trait even extended to such details as once knowing which particular member of the Masters of Evil had entered the room to report to him without even turning around to actually see who it was (which also impressed upon said villain just how clever Ultron was).

Despite Ultron-5’s apparent physical might and his assumptions of superiority over human beings, he was quite cautious in confronting his enemies. He never did so directly when possible, preferring to use minions and automated traps rather than attacking his foes directly.

Ultron-5 also did not allow his arrogance to keep him from developing schemes to save himself after possible defeat as an extension of his typical contingency planning.


Quotes

Klaw: “But, why the big interest in capturing the Avengers, Cowl ? Now that we’re victorious — we think we’ve got a right to know !”
Crimson Cowl: “You have no rights — not as long as you are my hirelings !”

(To the Masters of Evil) “Do you imagine that I would supply you with an air ship…and not wire it so that I could hear your every word, at all times ?”

“It is my wish that they be awake when they meet their deaths — that they may know stark, unreasoning fear !”

Jarvis: “Please… kill me if you must… but spare the Avengers ! You must let them live… in the name of all that is human !”
Crimson Cowl: “Human, dolt ? Did you say human ? What makes you think that I am HUMAN ??” (pulls back his cowl)
Jarvis: (gasping) “It’s… the robot! The real Crimson Cowl… was the robot, all along !”
Ultron: “Yes, you mortal moron ! But now, the Crimson Cowl need no longer exist ! Instead, you shall be the first human felled by the hand of… Ultron-5, the living automaton !”

(While watching Hawkeye comfort the Wasp) “That’s right, clowns ! Stand there, the victim of your own inane emotions ! The better for me to kill you with !”

Vision: “Who am I ? What name is mine ?”
Ultron: “No name, clown ! What need has an inhuman slave of a name — even a number ? I gave you a mind so that you could obey me… not dispute me !”


DC Universe History

If Hank Pym is also included in the campaign, Ultron’s history remains basically unchanged beyond targeting whatever group Pym is a part of if he is not with the Avengers.

For a more DCU-integrated approach, Ray Palmer can substitute for Hank Pym. Both were gadgeteers  with mental health issues who focused on size-changing technologies but sometimes made forays beyond that limited scope. In Palmer’s case, experiments with technologies recovered from Amazo led to the construction of Ultron with results similar to those suffered by Hank Pym.

In this latter case, Ultron may have used the Red Tornado instead of the Vision, including the use of the Tornado Champion’s mind in lieu of Simon Williams’s recorded mental patterns. Alternatively, the Vision could have been created incorporating some of Ray Palmer’s density-manipulation technology.

More alternatives

Emil Hamilton would also make a good substitute for Hank Pym in the DCU as he was another inventor with a history of mental illness. Hamilton also started out as a villain, an additional point of rough similarity since Pym would temporarily assume a villainous identity during one of his breakdowns.

Ultron might have also been the inspiration for Brainiac-5’s creation of Computo in the 30th Century. It is even possible that Ultron’s intelligence survived into that era and either infiltrated the Computo robot or was used by Brainiac-5 in the erroneous belief that he had overwritten the negative aspects of Ultron’s personality.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Ultron-5

Dex: 06 Str: 14 Bod: 10 Motivation: Psychopath/Nihilist
Int: 12 Wil: 10 Min: 06 Occupation: Genocidal Maniac
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 16
Init: 025 HP: 050

Powers:
Density Increase: 02, Energy Blast: 08, Hypnotism: 12, Invulnerability: 10*, Mind Probe: 12, Self-Link (Gadgetry): 14, Skin Armor: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Density Increase is Always On and Already Factored In (-1FC)
  • Energy Blast inflicts neuro-shocks and thus can only affect beings with nervous systems (-1FC)
  • Energy Blast only has a 3 AP Range (-1FC)
  • Hypnotism and Mind Probe can be used on sentient computers as well as human beings (+1FC)
  • Hypnotism and Mind Probe have a 0 AP Range (-3FC each)
  • Invulnerability only protects Ultron’s head (-2FC)

Skills:
Gadgetry*: 12, Scientist (incld Computers)*: 12, Thief (Security Systems): 12, Vehicles*: 06, Weaponry*: 06

Advantages:
Expansive Headquarters (hidden underground stronghold in NYC’s Lower East Side), Genius, Hardened Defenses, Life Support (Full), Stabilization

Connections:
None (The Masters of Evil were hirelings and not a Connection as such)

Drawbacks:
CIA (Destroying Hank Pym), Partial Attack Vulnerability (Attacks against the electrodes on Ultron’s head get a -3CS to RV, though hitting them requires either a +2CS Trick Shot or an attack such as Bomb that hits everything in the affected area), SIA (Demonstrating superiority to humans), Strange Appearance

Note:
In later appearances, Ultron’s opponents would attempt to bypass his armor by either targeting his joints (which had weaker protection) or by hitting him with enough force to damage his internal components despite his impressive armor. The former is a standard use of a Critical Blow or Devastating Attack Maneuver and the latter would be large HP expenditure and/or a high roll. These techniques became critical to defeating the later versions of Ultron that had adamantium armor but would still be perfectly viable against this version, which has the same construction but with lesser, albeit still incredibly durable, materials.

Equipment:

  • Gas-Pellet Gun [BODY 04, Poison Touch: 12, Bonus: Poison Touch has a Range of 2 APs].
  • SCOUT SHIP ONE [STR 10, BODY 14, Flight: 08, Radio Communication: 15, Bonus: Radio Communication is audio/visual, includes a laser cage with Laser Beam: 12].
  • ANDROID [DEX 06, STR 10, BOD 10, INT 01, WILL 01, Initiative: 09, Growth: 04, Self-Link (Gadgetry): 10, Limitation: Growth is Always On and Already Factored In; Lightning Reflexes, Miscellaneous Drawback (Android will deactivate if Ultron or his base are disabled].
  • Ultron’s stronghold included an 18 AP Laboratory and 15 AP Security Systems that would trigger a Bomb: 18 blast if improperly deactivated.

Note:
Ultron often uses the extra time rules for Gadget construction and the savings rule for Wealth Checks. This allows him to build items significantly more impressive than might be otherwise expected from his Gadgetry and Wealth scores and reflects the extended periods that pass between the appearances of each version of Ultron.


Design Notes

Wealth is conjecture, based on Ultron’s hidden base and items of advanced technology.


By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Avengers vol. 1 #54-5, 57-58, 135, 280; vol. 3 #22

Helper(s): Capita Senyera, Dr Michael Davis, KalEl el Vigilante, Darci, Dr Peter S Piispanen, Marvel Handbook for height/weight

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