Avengers West Coast #67

Issue Date: 
February 1991
Story Title: 
The Reaper and the Robot, part 3: Converging Trajectories

Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Paul Ryan (penciler), Danny Bullandi (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Mike Marts (assistant editor), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The Grim Reaper locates Ultron’s secret base, and watches as Ultron proceeds to robotize the captive Hawkeye, Tigra and Quicksilver, while spouting off about his plans to turn the entire population of the planet into robots - and extension of himself. While that is happening, Iron Man encounters a group of civilians who have also been affected by Ultron’s robotizing process, and after they attack him, he eventually takes them down. All of this was “watched” by Ultron and his prisoners, before the Grim Reaper reveals his presence - but too late, as Ultron attacks him, displaying his new ability to reform himself, while commenting on how…dead…the Grim Reaper now truly is. Ultron and the Grim Reaper fight for some time, before making a deal after Ultron fuses the Grim Reaper’s scythe with the remains of his body. The heroes are fully robotized, and the Grim Reaper agrees to serve alongside Ultron in the new world. Meanwhile, Hank Pym and the Scarlet Witch are greeted by the frosty Dr. Jennifer Falk at UCLA, where they have been granted to use the high-tech computers to analyze the information they have in their quest to uncover why robots have replaced farmers, and what the mysterious metal rash is. While Hank analyzes the data, the Scarlet Witch is lost in her thoughts. Hank discovers that some kind of light may reverse the metallic rash, before the robotized Hawkeye, Tigra and Quicksilver appear, and proceed to knock Hank, the Scarlet Witch, and also Dr. Falk out. Ready to destroy the computer equipment, the robotized heroes are soon confronted by Iron Man, USAgent and the Wasp. Both sides battle well, and Wonder Man soon shows up to turn the tide, and the three robotized heroes are soon captured, and Iron Man proceeds to use his uni-beam on them, testing out various lights - and discovers that infrared light knocks the robotized heroes out. After the heroes receive a brief lecture from Dr. Falk, Iron Man tries different concentrations of infra red light on their robotized friends - while the Scarlet Witch concentrates hard, straining for her mutant hex power to return in order to help Iron Man find the right concentration of infra red. Whether her power has returned or not is unknown, but Iron Man does manage to find the right concentration, and Hawkeye, Tigra and Quicksilver are returned to normal - all except for one of Hawkeye’s hands. Hank swears that they will cure Hawkeye, while Iron Man puts Dr. Falk in her place when she tells them that they can no longer use the UCLA computers. Meanwhile, Ultron and the Grim Reaper discuss their plans further, and Ultron reveals that he is going to have his first mass-robotizing of humanity at the Rose Parade in California - which is currently in procession!

Full Summary: 

Life has a taste. The mutant Nekra’s was sweet, like pale honey made in secret hives unknown to lesser beings. Those of the San Pedro Devil - worshippers merged into a sort of bitter stew - each scythe bite a different but vital flavor. Simon - but no. Wonder Nan did not die, and the attempt to kill him left a galling after-taste. The homeless man in downtown Los Angeles furnished scant nourishment. Ah, but the Mandrill - mutant brother to Nekra - now there was a life which was powerful, if pungent, repast! A diet of such lives as his could fill one with vitality enough to go on existing for a thousand centuries. Yes, life has a taste. And it tastes good…to the Grim Reaper!

The Grim Reaper a.k.a. Eric Williams, makes his way through a system of tunnels, trudging through water, past scurrying rats, the deadly scythe-wielding villain sees a light at the end of the dark tunnel, and walking towards it, he reaches a grate, blocking off the entrance to a larger, brightly-lit chamber, where a familiar, robotic voice exclaims ‘Life, my friends, is a vastly overrated commodity! LIFE!’ booms Ultron-13, as the Grim Reaper goes wide-eyed.

Standing in amongst a high-tech, hidden laboratory, Ultron bustles about at a console, in front of three imprisoned heroes - Clint “Hawkeye” Barton and Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra, both of the Avengers West Coast, and their ally, Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff - all held in tubes. Ultron-13 exclaims that humans have illogical and contradictory attitudes towards life, that they value it so much that they force their fellow men to go on existing for as long as possible, no matter what their health or hopes, or they allow anyone who momentarily wearies of it to toss it away like a bauble of no value. ‘You plaster its name casually on magazines - on grain cereals - on something called “life insurance”, which in truth has far more to do with death!’

‘Truly, Avengers, if my adamantium frame endures until the Earth is a burnt-out, inanimate hulk - I will never understand this thing called life!’ Ultron booms. Hawkeye turns to his friends and asks them if they want to tell Ultron why. ‘It’s because you’re not alive - not truly!’ Tigra exclaims, remarking that Ultron reacts to sensory data, walks around, might even wipe out the whole human race, but that when it comes down to knowing what being human is really about, he hasn’t got a clue. ‘You are a robot, Ultron-13!’ Quicksilver exclaims. ‘A creation of nuts and bolts and computer chips, without a soul. Nothing but a ROBOT!’

Ultron replies that Quicksilver says that as if the word “robot” were something low, base, and insulting. ‘Such as, say - “mutant”!’ He tells Quicksilver that he’d best not hope that is the true way of things. ‘For, if it is - where will that leave the three of you - when I bathe you for a second time in my robotizing spray!?’ Ultron asks, as the spray begins flowing into the tanks. ‘Don’t breathe, you guys!’ Clint tells his friends. ‘Sure thing, Hawkeye! We’ll just hold out collective breath until we turn blue, right?’ Greer jokes. ‘So far - breathing this spray seems only to have made us - somewhat - sluggish!’ Pietro points out. ‘Speak for yourself, Speedy Gonzales! My joints - my face - even my insides - starting to feel - so stiff!’ Clint exclaims.

Ultron points out that is because Hawkeye is the one normal human of the trio, but assures him that his comrades will experience the effects before long. Ultron tells Hawkeye that he should feel privileged that this process will make the three of them forerunners of that time to come. ‘When there will not be a single flesh-and-blood human being left upon the face of the Earth!’. Listening all this while, the Grim Reaper utters a quiet ’No!’, before opening the grate and entering Ultron’s lab, where Ultron exclaims that his net closes slowly, but soon will enmesh all mankind beyond hope and escape. Ultron declares that, already his secret spraying of men directly, and of some of California’s wheat fields - has ld many humans to ingest the spray without their knowledge.

Ultron boasts that, slowly but surely, the humans’ vital organs being to turn to gallium argenide, explaining that, within them, the crystalline substance begins to mold itself into the equivalent of ultra-sophisticated computer chips - subject to his long-distance control. ‘I call it - “robotizing”!’ Ultron continues to rant on, unaware that the Grim Reaper is sneaking up behind him. ‘One day soon, your entire race will be merely soulless, will-less extensions of myself. And in that hour - I, Ultron-13, will be the world!’ Ultron booms. Coughing as the spray fills his lungs, Hawkeye exclaims ‘What a way to spend the last day of the year!’ ‘You should talk! If I’d stayed an alley cat roaming the Palos Verdes Peninsula, I wouldn’t be in this mess!’ Tigra snaps, while Quicksilver tells his companions not to despair, as they will find a way… his words are cut off as metal patches appear on his face, and the others feel it too.

‘Does the spray begin to stiffen your tongue, too, Quicksilver?’ the Grim Reaper asks, adding that Tigra also seems to have little to say, which proves his point that the moment is near, when the three of them will find themselves subject to the mental waves that he is now broadcasting, by the alternating psychic currents of his incomparable artificial brain. The Grim Reaper is stopped in his tracks, while Ultron, who still hasn’t noticed him, asks the heroes if they want to see their future, and motions to three men - robots - that approach him. Ultron informs the heroes that these are the robotized humans they encountered upon entering his lair here beneath the Hollywood Freeway. ‘They are what you will be, in very short order’ Ultron declares.

‘They don’t say a word - not even a lousy “yes, master”!’ Tigra points out, to which Ultron-13 asks why they should they speak, as they have no need to talk to each other, because they are of one mind, and no need to talk to him, because that single mind is his! Motioning to the robotized humans, who are saluting him, Ultron points out that their communal salute is only for the benefit of the Avengers. Ultron informs the Avengers West and Quicksilver that, at present, he only has a few hundred of his Andrones, scattered here and there, but boasts that, within 24 hours, he shall multiply their ranks many times over, although that too will be the barest beginning. Ultron then announces that it is time to see how one of the few super heroes who might even moderately challenge his plan fares against the Andrones:

Tony “Iron Man” Stark flies across the city, thinking to himself that this is not an efficient use of time, as he has ranged from night till dawn looking for either fake med fly spraying or more androids like Hank and Janet ran into North of LA. ‘did i really think I was going to stumble onto some suspicious activity - like I was Angela Lansbury?’. As he sees two thugs beating up someone on the street below, Tony thinks that perhaps “Murder, She Wrote” is more realistic than he thought, as the two thugs aren’t beating up that man because they mistook him for a rug.

But, as he swoops downwards to intervene, Iron Man sees that there is something strange about the two thugs, and wonders what kind of men they are, as their skin gleams just like his own armor. Tony flies in closer, deciding to just whisk the victim away, but as he prepares to free the victim, the man moves upwards, and smacks Iron Man over. ‘Oldest trick in the book!’ Tony thinks to himself, while scolding himself for getting careless. He thinks that the “victim” must have been concealing his own condition with makeup. As two of the Andrones attack him, while another rips a lamppost from the ground, Tony thinks that he should have listened to USAgent when he said that some of those anti-spraying protesters were part robot.

Iron Man admits that even USAgent can be right once in a while, before realizing that his opponents are quite tough, not to mention strong and silent. Tony tells himself that it feels like he is fighting an old Hal Roach Two-Reeler, but knows he cannot bring himself to really cut loose and risk hurting the men, as they seem like real people, somehow under external control. ‘Besides, so far they haven’t managed to do me any real dama -’ Tony’s thoughts are interrupted by the third Androne, who smacks him over with the lamppost, knocking Iron Man across the street.

As the other Andrones pursue him, Tony decides that it is time for a change of plans, and unleashes his repulsor rays on his two of attackers, knocking them out. ‘In my business - nice guys finished dead!’ Iron Man exclaims, before smacking over the third Androne, resulting in a loud “klang”. With all three out-of-action, Iron Man wonders what he is to do with them now, as the cops sure wouldn’t know what to make of them. Tony decides that if what Walker said was correct, then these people may need help, and taking flight, decides to take them to a hospital.

Back in his lair, Ultron-13 tells the Avengers that he could relate the minor skirmish with Iron Man as fully as if he were present himself, because in a very real sense, he was there. Ultron declares that they should not think that such close monitoring of three Andrones kept him from noticing that one of his former companions has been standing behind him - scythe in hand. Ultron turns to look at the Grim Reaper, while an annoyed Tigra begins shouting at the Grim Reaper:’ You idiot! Why didn’t you waste Ultron why you had the chance?’ she asks him, while deciding that, from the looks of him, she would swear she would rather take her chances with Ultron-13.

‘No one attacks me with impunity in my own lair!’ Ultron booms, lunging at the Grim Reaper, who warns him to stay back, as his scythe slices through two of Ultron’s tendons on his right arm, causing his hand to slightly diss-tatch itself. ‘Impossible!’ Ultron exclaims, shouting that his entire body is made of adamantium - the hardest substance known. As he continues to fend off the Grim Reaper, Ultron realizes that is a mystery to be fretted over later, and tells Eric Williams ‘If you are truly he’ that he needs to learn that since the two of them last met, he has made a few improvements. Indeed, just like that, Ultron’s tendons repair themselves, and his hand is back to fully functional.

‘Release me!’ the Grim Reaper orders, while explaining that he only struck now, in self defense. ‘If I’d wanted to attack you, I’d have done it before!’ he boasts. ‘What do you expect of me, Williams - slavish gratitude?’ Ultron asks, before tossing the Grim Reaper across the laboratory. Getting to his feet, the Grim Reaper replies that he was telling the truth, before shouting that Ultron is about to find out that he, too, has gone through a few chances. ‘I can tell - merely from looking at you!’ Ultron replies dryly, before announcing that the Grim Reaper’s scythe has always fascinated him. ‘True, it’s only a prosthetic device placed over your natural human hand’ Ultron admits, and remarks that from time to time he has mused over the possibility of the two moving on, to a more symbiotic relationship.

‘And tonight when I am on the verge of triumph on all fronts - might be the perfect time to try my theories!’ Ultron exclaims as he unleashes a laser beam from his eyes at the point where the Grim Reaper’s scythe meets his arm. The Grim Reaper lets out a small cry, as Ultron remarks that it is interesting that his laser blast would cause any living man insufferable pain. ‘Then it is apparently true what I have heard about you - you’re dead!’ he tells the Grim Reaper, who looks shocked. Ultron exclaims that this is all the more reason to test his ability to perform some delicate surgery mixed with major appliance repair - and fuse, once and for all, the Reaper and his murderous scythe.

When the laser beams die down, the Grim Reaper looks at his smouldering scythe and shouts ‘You - did it! I can tell - not be feeling, since my nerves are as dead as the rest of me - I just know!’ The Grim Reaper declares that this is a grim joke played up on a Grim Reaper, but tells Ultron that he kind of likes the idea. ‘Now you do being to interest me!’ Ultron replies, before instructing the Grim Reaper that he can inform him later the details of his demise, and clearly, subsequent recovery, for, right now, he can use a man who would serve him, yet retain his own will, and thus his judgment. ‘What do you say, Williams?’ Ultron asks.

‘I say…YES!’ the Grim Reaper exclaims, much to the annoyance of the heroes: ‘So much for hoping those two would polish each other off, huh, Hawkeye?’ Tigra asks, slowly. When Clint doesn’t respond, Quicksilver tells Tigra that she must not have looked at the Archer for some moments, as he is now almost entirely metal. ‘As you and I are fast becoming!’ Pietro points out. The Grim Reaper informs Ultron that he must take a human life every 24 hours to sustain his existence, but that the rest of the time, he will stick to him like glue. ‘It’s settled then. I’d offer you one of these three, just to seal the bargain…but by now they are too far along the part of robotification to be of use to you!’ Ultron replies, motioning to the heroes.

‘You…lousy…’ Tigra - her face the only non-robotified part of her body - begins to replies. ‘There! They are mine now, to command as I will…no different from my other andrones, except blessed with certain additional powers they can use in my behalf’ Ultron exclaims, before walking through his lab, with the Grim Reaper following him. ‘You who are dead yet “live” - and I who am the ultimate synthetic embodiment of life - we shall make quite a team, Reaper!’ Ultron declares. ‘Yes, Ultron. Quite a team…’ The Grim Reaper replies.

Elsewhere, Dr. Hank Pym and Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch are accompanied by Dr. Jennifer Falk through a building at the UCLA. Dr. Falk exclaims ‘I hope you don’t mind my telling you, Dr. Pym…that I’m against this whole set-up’. She declares that, as an academic institution, UCLA has no business getting involved with private industry - with the Pentagon, or with so-called “super-heroes”. Dr. Pym replies that he and Ms. Maximoff no longer technically fit into that category, jokingly pointing out that they are not exactly wearing regulation super hero union suits.

Hank tells Dr. Falk that he knows it cannot be fun, getting a call to let two Avengers in to play around with the university’s new super-computer - especially not on the morning of New Year’s Eve. The icy Dr. Falk assures Dr. Pym that the date is the least of her worries. ‘I’m a great admirer of your work in biochemistry, but I’m less familiar with your expertise in computers’ Dr. Falk remarks. The Scarlet Witch informs Dr. Falk that the Avengers West Coast have quite a computer set up in their Palos Verdes Compound, and offers to let Dr. Falk come and play, one day. ‘Uh…right, Wanda’ Hank replies, before informing Dr. Falk that he cannot tell her much, but can assure her that there is a lot at stake.

‘Spare my, please. I’ve heard that line about “national security” once or twice before. I’ll be outside. You have five hours’ Dr. Falk exclaims as she leaves the computer room. Hank thanks Jennifer, while Wanda whispers to him that he doesn’t have to take the way she is speaking to him. Hank gets to work, telling Wanda that all he wants to do is learn why someone’s replaced one or more farm managers with humanoid robots, and any connection between that and the “metallic rash” on several protesters. Hank motions to the various items he pulls from a briefcase, and remarks ‘Our clues: a few twisted scraps of the two “farmers” - and metal flakes that stuck on USAgent’s glove’. Wanda asks Hank if he can do it, to which Hank replies that he has got to try.

As he looks through a microscope, Hank adds that he needs an antidote too, for the “rash”, if that’s what it is. He explains to Wanda that he is going to look at the hunk of robot some more before he tackles the computer - in a big way. ‘At which point, the sometime Scarlet Witch becomes the proverbial fifth wheel’ Wanda thinks to herself as she takes off her coat and begins to walk around the computer room, looking at the equipment. Wanda wonders if the other Avengers have learned anything about the menace they face, starting with what it is precisely.

Wanda’s thoughts keep coming back to Wonder Man, and she tells herself that she cannot find it in her heart to blame Simon for stomping off to look for his brother. ‘Still, if Hank’s right - there’s something even more dangerous afoot than the Grim Reaper’ Wanda tells herself. ‘I’ve always thought that being an Avenger meant putting humanity before your own feelings. I wonder if I’ll even be an Avenger for long. Without my hex power, I’m not exactly much use to them. Maybe Pietro and I should -’ Wanda thinks to herself, before Hank calls out to her, announcing that he thinks he is on to something.

‘Already? We’ve just been here a few minutes…’ Wanda replies. ‘You’ve been daydreaming for over an hour!’ Hank replies, referring to her pacing around the complex. ‘Good Lord, you’re right!’ Wanda exclaims, before asking Hank what he has found. As Wanda stands behind him, Hank replies that it concerns the metallic flakes, and that the condition may just be reversible, if it is caught in time. He declares that some kind of light might to it, but he is not certain what kind if light yet. ‘But it’s a start!’ he exclaims.

Hank turns to Wanda - who looks past him, shocked. ‘Well? I didn’t expect a standing ovation, and that doesn’t tell us what those androids were up to, but still -’ Hank begins, until Wanda calls out to him, telling him to look. ‘What’re you -?’ Hank begins, but as he turns his head, he sees what Wanda has been staring at - the robotized Hawkeye, Tigra and Quicksilver, who have burst through the skylight. ’Pietro!’ Wanda gasps at the sight of her brother. ’Oh no!’ Hank gasps, before smacks Hank in the head. ’In Heaven’s name - what are you doing?’ Wanda asks, before going to Hank’s aid.

‘He’s unconscious! You could have killed him!’ Wanda exclaims, and when she gets no response, she shouts ’Say something! What’s wrong with the three of - you?’ her voice changes as she sees that her friends have been robotized. Quicksilver grabs his sister by her wrist: ’Oww! You - you’re hurting me! Your hand - so strong - so cold - like metal!’ Wanda gasps, before using her free hand to bang her fist on Pietro’s chest, telling him to fight back. ‘Whatever they’ve done to you - you’re still my brother! Don’t let someone turn you into a murderer!’ Wanda exclaims.

Suddenly, Dr. Falk enters the computer room, all the commotion has got her attention. ‘What in pity’s name is all the racket in here?’ she shouts. ‘You there - get away from that computer!’ she shouts at one of them, and as she rushes over to them, Quicksilver tosses the Scarlet Witch at her, causing both women to crumple to the floor, and enabling the robotized Quicksilver, Hawkeye and Tigra to begin to tear up the computer equipment.

Suddenly, a repulsor ray causes the robotized heroes to stop, as Iron Man makes his appearance known, accompanied by Johnny Walker a.k.a. USAgent and Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp. Walker tells Iron Man that he is glad he gave him a holler. ‘You’re an Avengers, USAgent - as much as any of us!’ Iron Man replies, while the Wasp announces that Hank, Wanda and the other woman are down, and that it looks like it was three distorted Avengers who did it. ‘Yeah? Well - it’s also three Avengers - who are gonna take care of it!’ USAgent exclaims as he leaps into action.

Iron Man takes on Quicksilver, while telling Walker and Wasp not to let the others land a solid blow, for according to the hospital they have already had a lot of their organic make up replaced by metals. ‘For you two, it’s be like getting run down by a tank!’ Iron Man exclaims. The Wasp blasts Tigra with her sting, and tells Iron Man that she is glad he contacted her when he monitored Hank’s message that he and Wanda were here at UCLA, before asking how they can stop their friends without hurting them.

As Iron Man blasts Quicksilver through the wall, he replies ‘Frankly, Wasp - I’m not positive we can stop them at all!’. Iron Man steps outside and assures the Wasp that they have got to try not to harm them, as they are clearly under some sort of alien control. He adds that the same force, probably, that seems to have turned them into something half-human, half-robot. Iron Man sees Quicksilver getting to his feet, and tells him to take it easy, as he just wants to help - just then, Tigra lunges onto Iron Man.

Back inside, USAgent blocks one of Hawkeye’s arrows, with his trusty shield, exclaiming that he has wanting to mix it up with the Archer, but not this way. ‘Well, guess I’d better take what I can get!’ the handsome hero supposes, and smacks Hawkeye in the face, only to discover that the metallic features are not just makeup. ‘Even with my augmented strength - I nearly broke my fist!’ Johnny exclaims. He squats down to avoid a punch from Hawkeye, and Johnny declares that he never thought he would say this, but they could use some reinforcements.

As if on cue, Simon “Wonder Man” Williams appears, ‘That’s just what I came here to be, Agent - but I ha no idea the target for today was Hawkeye, Tigra and Quicksilver!’ Simon exclaims. With Tigra on his back and Quicksilver punching his face, Iron Man remarks that he hasn’t seen Wonder Man since yesterday, and asks him if he wants to give him a hand, and see if they can stop their three friends from hurting somebody, not necessarily themselves. Simon swoops down and pulls Tigra off of Iron Man, remarking that this is weird, he assures Iron Man he will be right back to help with Quicksilver. But Iron Man tells Simon to go and give Janet and Walker a hand, boasting that whether he is made of metal or a bunch of marshmallows, man or metal, Quicksilver cannot run if he is touching the ground.

Iron Man uses his abilities to lift Quicksilver off the ground, while USAgent rushes through the gaping hole in the wall, thinking to himself that this is really the pits, running from the renegade bowman, no matter what he is made out of, as Hawkeye follows him. ‘Win, lose, or die - here’s where I make my stand!’ Walker thinks to himself, tossing his shield, while Hawkeye fires an arrow. ‘Considering what I see overhead, though, maybe I’ve got friends in high places’ Johnny thinks to himself, as up above, Wonder Man chucks Tigra downwards, where she lands on Hawkeye. Simon tells Walker that they are not out of the woods yet, and that their friends will be up and at them again in a couple of seconds. ‘Thanks, Williams!’ Walker shouts back.

Suddenly, Hank and Wanda appear at the hole in the wall, and Hank shouts that they must use those few seconds. He calls out to Iron Man, telling him that he thinks their weakness is some kind of light, but that he is not positive what kind. Iron Man thanks Hank for the tip, and replies that his uni-beam uses all sorts of light. ‘Mayne one of them is - well, now we know. Visible light isn’t it’ he exclaims as the light pours onto his three friends, only for there to be no change. Iron Man tries ultra-violet light, but as the three of them approach him quickly, he sees that has no effect either.

Quickly, Iron Man changes the light to infrared - and Tigra, Quicksilver and Hawkeye shield their eyes, before collapsing to the ground. ‘Well, what do you know?’ Iron Man exclaims, before pointing out that it didn’t turn them back to flesh. Hank suggests that another type of light might, provided they can figure out the right frequency. Hank admits though that the odds are against them, while the Wasp exclaims that she is just thankful they are all okay. Wanda turns to Simon and remarks that she thought he was looking for his brother. ‘I still am’ Simon replies, before informing Wanda that Eric is out there hunting down whoever is turning people into walking Oscars. ‘After all, if that creep does his work too well - Eric’s going to have to go on one hekuva diet!’

‘Are you all right, Miss…?’ the Wasp asks Dr. Falk, who angrily replies ‘I am - but the University’s computer isn’t!’. Jennifer proceeds to ask Hank if his ferrous friends have done enough damage to satisfy him. Iron Man intervenes, asking Hank if he thinks they will be able to normalize Tigra, Hawkeye and Quicksilver. ‘I only pray we can!’ Hank exclaims, while Walker exclaims ‘Sure it’ll work - where’s your good old American know-how?’. But Hank replies that it isn’t that simple, for even if Iron Man’s beam can reverse the symptoms on these three, it will be a lot harder to neutralize what is doing this if they have to deal with a far larger group.

‘You mean - there may be more of these metal things?’ Dr. Falk asks. ‘Nobody went to all this trouble just to affect three people, lady!’ Wonder Man exclaims, before Hank asks Iron Man if he is ready with the concentrated dosage of infrared. ‘Right. Here we go’ Iron Man replies, standing before the three robotized heroes. Shortly, Iron Man exclaims that it is not working, and remarks that if it could change them at all, it must take a different frequency. He tells the others that he can try various ones, but that there is an infinite number of them, and so even if there is a right frequency, it could take years to stumble on it - unless they get fantastically lucky.

‘”Lucky”’ Wanda thinks to herself as she stands behind Iron Man. Wanda recalls that, up until a few weeks ago, her mutant power could chance a statistical improbability into a dead certainty, and now her brother and the others need that power, and it has gone. ‘If only I could recapture it - even for a moment -!’ she thinks to herself, raising her hands slightly, while Iron Man tells Hank that this is a no go, and, to make matters worse, he can already feel his unibeam getting weaker. ‘I’m afraid those odds you talked about - are getting longer by the second!’ Iron Man exclaims, while behind him, the Scarlet Witch gestures her hands, concentrating hard, she tells herself that she must shorten those odds. ‘I’ve just - got to!’ she strains hard.

Iron Man announces that he will keep trying until his beam gives out, which he believes will be soon. Hank points out that Iron Man’s unibeam is the most sophisticated one around, so it might take days to get hold of one as strong. ‘Keep trying, Avenger - till the last instant!’ Hank urges. ‘I will - but it isn’t -’ Iron Man replies, when suddenly Wanda rushes forwards, ‘Wait! Something’s happening! They’re changing!’ she shouts. ‘You’re right! Then - we got lucky after all!’ Iron Man exclaims. Hank declares that, judging from the deep concentration he saw on Wanda’s face before, he is betting the Scarlet Witch had something to do with it.

The robotized heroes return to normal, though slightly confused. ‘Their voices are returning along with their color’ Simon points out as he goes to their aid. ‘Where…are we?’ Greer asks. ‘Feel as if…I was caught in a nightmare…’ Quicksilver exclaims. Walker tells Quicksilver that he won’t find it that much greater out here. ‘All the same, welcome home’. Wonder Man tells a smiling Wanda that it looks like her hex power has returned. ‘The Scarlet witch is back in business, huh?’ he asks. Wanda replies that, what matters, is that she helped her brother and two others. Simon points out that it was probably Wanda’s brother being in trouble that provided her the extra kick she needed. Wanda supposes so, before helping Hawkeye up, asking him if he is all right. Wanda realizes that Hawkeye is closer to normal than he was - but that he is still part metal. ‘No…’ Clint utters, looking at his metal hand.

Soon, inside the super-computer chamber, the Avengers West Coast gather together as Iron Man asks the formerly robotized heroes ‘And you don’t remember where you were - or who did that to you?’. Tigra replies that her mind is a blank since she left Avengers Compound, while Clint mutters that he wishes they had left him like he was. ‘At least then I didn’t realize somebody had turned me into a metal monster!’. Hank assures his friend that they will help him, and motioning to one of the computers remarks that he might be able to work out which infrared frequency actually turned Tigra and Pietro back to normal.

‘What? If you think you’re going to touch this computer again -’ Dr. Falk begins, angrily, before Iron Man interrupts her: ‘It’s because we’ve got something called an Avengers Priority, Dr. Falk! And we’re going to use!’ Iron Man asserts. Hank asks his friends what if their unknown enemy strikes first - and changes not three people, but a multitude, into mindless, unfeeling robots. ‘And why do I get the strange feeling that that’s exactly what he’s very likely to do?’.

Back in his hide-out, Ultron remarks that, for a human, Eric Williams - even a technically dead one - intrigues him. Ultron adds that it takes no genius to realize that a world of andrones will furnish scant sustenance for the Grim Reaper, and asks him if he can exists on the life-force of lesser league animals. The Grim Reaper replies that, frankly, he figures that there will always be a few humans left to feed his habit. ‘Who knows? Maybe I’ll grow my own private stock’ Eric suggests, adding ‘But that’s my look-out’ and points out that, at the rate Ultron is adding Andrones, he won’t have to worry about his status in the psychic food chain for a long time.

‘As I said earlier - that situation is about to change drastically!’ Ultron exclaims, adding that all he awaited was the proper concentration of population, close at hand, for the first, truly large-scale testing of his arsenide spray. ‘The premiere morning of a new human era is nearly upon us, Reaper!’ Ultron exclaims, adding ‘What better way to usher in the epoch of Ultron-13, than at that perennial pageant of ostentatious folly which Pasadena, California, and the world of men know as…the Rose Parade!’

Indeed, gathered nearby for the Parade, are countless civilians, all unaware of their impending doom….

Characters Involved: 

Dr. Hank Pym, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, USAgent, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)


Dr. Jennifer Falk

Grim Reaper


Story Notes: 

The Grim Reaper killed Nekra in Avengers West Coast #65. The worshippers were slain in the same issue, as was the Grim Reaper’s attempt to kill Wonder Man. His encounter with Mandrill, and the homeless man, took place in the back-up story of Avengers West Coast #66.

Tigra’s comment about staying an alley cat refers to when she was reduced to the size of a small cat in Avengers West Coast #49, and restored to her true form in Avengers Spotlight #38, which takes place after Avengers West Coast #62, and before this current arc.

Angela Lansbury is a popular British actress of screen and stage, one of her more well-known performances being that of mystery writer Jessica Fletcher, in the long-running (1984-1996) television series “Murder, She Wrote”.

USAgent encountered protesters with a “metallic rash” in Avengers West Coast #66.

Hank and the Wasp encountered robotic farmers in Avengers West Coast #65.

The Scarlet Witch was left powerless after the events of Avengers West Coast #60-62.

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