Writer: Dan Slott & Jim Zub / Artist: Valerio Schiti / Marvel Comics
Alright y’all. The jig is all the way up. At long last, the big bad for this series has shown their cards. Ultron is back in the building with a new look and brand new outlook on life. Tony Stark: Iron Man #16 rechristens itself “Ultron Agenda: Part One” and delivers a crucial ethical moment in the arc.
We open up with Arno and Jocasta talking that futurist The Matrix conversation about ‘what real is’ regarding AI when, BOOM! Ultron busts through the door (with half of Hank Pym’s face on!) talking reckless about the blending of the biological and the mechanical to take what’s his. Apparently, Jocasta…Belongs to Ultron(??).
Days of Future Past
Issue #15 left us with #TeamStark looking for an answer to the Vision/Wonder Man hybrid left behind to distract from The Wasps’ kidnapping. While looking for an answer Tony does his Sherlock Holmes thing and connects some old school dots. Back during those Avengers Silver Age days, Hank Pym based Vison’s humanity on Wonder Man via a digital engram. Tony remembers this and recalls that Jocasta Pym’s engrams are based on Janet Van Dyne aka The Wasp! Somewhere in that brain blast (respect the Jimmy Neutron reference!) the crew realizes they need to contact Jocasta to get to Wasp. In order to get to Jocasta, they need to find her wack boyfriend.
Do Robots Drink Electric Drinks?
Like any plan to take on a big bad, you gotta get the wild card of your ragtag team. In this instance, it’s the bootleg bionic Brad Pitt, the robotic rebel desperately seeking a cause: Aaron Stack the Machine Man aka Jocasta’s wack boyfriend. He’s at the synthezoid bar The Uncanny Valley, being wack. Tony is not in the best of graces with the AI community after his trial and his presence (in yet another new suit of armor) starts a bar fight, as usual. After the scrap, the crew figures out that Jocasta is at Baintronics. Oh yeah, they also get wind that Arno Stark is employed by Bain and working on Jocasta!
Bust In The Door Wearing New Armor
Tony and the crew literally bust into Baintronics only to find the in-house security team there with the brakes already beat off them. It’s a tight space and Rhodey is still suffering from that Thanos PTSD going around (Thor in the movies and Ironheart since 2018); so he’s not gonna get in that War Machine armor. Which leaves a slightly drunk Machine Man and Iron Man to take on Ultron. Aaron and Tony do a little Cap and Bucky routine until Ultron Pym flexes and takes them down a peg.
Man and Machine
Remembering the old school continuity connections that made this an interesting issue, Tony and Aaron start a psychological attack that changes the game and stalls Ultron like a 404 error. In the ensuing lull, they free Jocasta and Wasp only to trigger an explosion that literally fuses Tony with his armor. It’s actually pretty gross. Dan Slott and Jim Zub spent quite a bit of time paring Tony Stark down to his core ‘self’. This conflict hasn’t forced him to be the best ‘version’ of himself yet, but it looks like it’s on the way there.
6 “oh damn” worthy plot twists out of 10
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