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Avengers Inc #5: Review

Jan 2024
Al Ewing, Leonard Kirk

Story Name:

Case Number 005: The prodigal son

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers Inc #5 Review by (February 5, 2024)
I'm giving this 4.5. Not specifically for this issue but for the series as a whole. Digging up stuff from the Marvel past like Ultron-12 and Vision's old alias Victor Shade will always get my approval. Add that to bringing back Henry Pym and Ultron, tying in Ultron Forever and the latest Ant-Man series, and reusing Whirlwind and some other minor or forgotten villains, and I can't resist.

Henry Pym saying his wife Maria wanted to name her daughter Hope is a nod to their film versions.

Whatever Jan decides I don't think Moon Knight will be in her team because he (Marvel-)dies at the end of his recent series.

Blizzard II (introduced in Iron Man #223) and Speed Demon (originally Whizzer of the Squadron Sinister in Avengers #69) were both later members of the villains-turned-heroes team Thunderbolts but it never stuck.

This Cobra seems like the later version (from the White Tiger mini-series) rather than his uncle now calling himself King Cobra.

Bullet's been plaguing Daredevil since the late 1980's. He recently got bonded to a 'Venom' symbiote but he got better.

Lodestone appeared in a few issues of Darkhawk and then 2 issues of Thunderbolts in the Masters Of Evil.

Sunstroke was also in that MOE group. Before that he was part of the Desert Dwellers in West Coast Avengers and a mass gathering of villains (including Blizzard, Oddball, Speed Demon and Whirlwind) in Captain America.

Supercharger was invented in the retro-issues Amazing Fantasy #17-18. He then disappeared for a long time before turning up in that same MOE group.

Mortar was previously only seen as a member of the Bastards Of Evil in the Young Allies mini-series.

Piecemeal was a member of Red Skull's New World order in some issues of Hulk.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Inc #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Tasked by New York Mayor Luke Cage to investigate some mysterious supervillain deaths, Wasp was surprised when 1 of them (her old foe Whirlwind) came back to life and declared he was now Vic Shade. They continued investigating cases as Avengers Incorporated and last issue were joined by Moon Knight in a case which led them the coroner who turned out to be her ex-husband Henry Pym (ex-Ant Man, etc) who was supposedly dead after merging with his evil robot creation Ultron. He explained how he'd won free from Ultron in the future and come back to his own time. But he believed that Ultron was also back here and hatched this complicated plan to 'kill' and induct supervillains into his Lethal Legion to combat the robot. But at the very end of the issue Vic Shade announced that he was Ultron and apparently killed Pym.

Now we are shown Hank Pym talking to 1 of the nanomachine robot ants that he's been creating and calling it Victor Shade. He's going to send it like the others to invade the brain of a supercriminal he wants to enlist and put them into a death-like state while playing a sound file of the words "Justice is served" to make people blame it on the Scourge Of The Underworld. Such 'dead' villains are sent to him in his assumed role of consultant coroner. He revives them and makes them an offer they can't refuse - join his army or be given amnesia and be delivered to the cops. (He misses out the bit about promising them new identities when the mission's over.)

But he tells this 'ant' something extra. He's realised that Ultron is actually within himself as a data virus in his brain. And the robot is controlling him to create this army for its own purpose. The ants have been copying Ultron code into the villains' brains and the result will eventually be a distributed processing Ultron spread across a living army under his control. But Henry has temporarily gained control of his own brain long enough to execute his own counter-plan. He's choosing a special piece of Ultron code to implant in *this* ant along with code from the Vision and the original Human Torch. He ends with a statement/memory that we've seen several times before, that the ant won't remember this and neither will he when Ultron reasserts control.

Now Vic Shade remembers everything and says that giving him that name was a call for help which unfortunately Vision, who had used that name before, didn't respond to. He now admits that he is indeed Ultron but he's Ultron-12, previously called Mark. Wasp and the other ex-West Coast Avenger Moon Knight remember that Ultron Mark 12 learned to be good and 'died' protecting his 'father' Pym against the previous iteration Ultron-11. And he now explains that he shocked Hank unconscious to prevent Ultron from turning him into a mindless drone ...

... like it now does to all the villains including Black Ant, the robot that replaced the dead Ant-Man III Eric O'Grady (who takes time out to explain that they never really agreed to work for Pym, Ultron made them pretend to). Speed Demon is sent to attack Wasp. But Janet Van Dyne utters the code word "Assemble" ...

... and Vision ghosts in through the ceiling and then turns diamond-hard as SD runs nose-1st into him. It seems Jan had guessed what might happen and had called on allies before coming here. Bad Ultron sends Bullet, Oddball and Piecemeal against Vizh but Luke Cage and Valkyrie (Jane Foster) bust through a wall to take them on. Black Ant isn't really under the sway of the robot and shrinks to escape, but runs into the young Wasp (Nadia Pym/Van Dyne), Ant-Man (Scott Lang), and his daughter Stinger who has a new battle cry "Ant-Vengers Assemble".

Mark Ultron helps Henry Pym up as Jan-Wasp, Moon Knight and Vision form a defensive perimeter to fend off Cobra, Mortar and Supercharger. This is the 1st meeting of Nadia-Wasp and her father Henry (by his 1st wife Maria). Hank claims that the shock from Mark drove Ultron out of him. He also tells her that Maria named her Hope, and he tells her that hope is what she'll give them. He enlarges 2 computer tablets and the pair of geniuses start working on nano-code to defeat Ultron. Blizzard and Sunstroke now take their turn at the bat with their contrasting heat/cold powers. But Jan reckons that Sunstroke needs solar energy to fuel his power, which is in short supply in this basement. This encourages Moon Knight to take him down, while Valkyrie finds Blizzard mild compared with the cold of Asgardian Jotunheim.

Ultron now causes Lodestone to use her magnetic power to build it a skeletal robot body to inhabit. And it forces all its drones to rise up in their battered states to continue the fight. The heroes don't want to kill any of them. But now Pym and daughter have finished their programming and they give control of the nanos in the villains to Ultron-12. Who leaves his host in a swirl of nanomachines, leaving him to be Whirlwind/David Cannon again. The nano-cloud sucks all the nano-virus out of the Lethal Legion leaving them free but battered. That includes Lodestone who no longer animates the Ultron skeleton. Which the nano-swarm now inhabits. After a rebuild to give it the appearance of human clothes it gives itself the name Mark Twelve, who Wasp is ready to recognise as the latest Avenger.

But Henry Pym declares that Ultron is gone but he's still not dead. Jan knows that this means Hank is going to resume the hunt and she tries to persuade him to stay with his family and friends. But the Legion swear that they too want to continue the mission they thought they were on. Some for revenge against the monster that did this to them. Others to make the world safer for their families. So Pym takes them to regroup in Sub-Atomica. Black Ant and Whirlwind remain as prisoners.

Vision scans Mark and finds no trace of the Ultron virus in him, and Mark says he can't detect the villain anywhere near. Vizh calls him Uncle Mark because the original Ultron was his 'father'. Nadia reckons that he's her brother because Henry Pym was father to both of them. Mark changes his robotic face into a human male, but Nadia thinks it still looks too much like Davey Cannon. Jan ponders her recent role as a detective but realises that it was leading a team of Avengers (again) that saved the day. And she wonders whether the combination has something going for it. And maybe next time she'll even wear her costume.

Leonard Kirk
Leonard Kirk
Alex Sinclair
Daniel Acuna (Cover Penciler)
Daniel Acuna (Cover Inker)
Daniel Acuna (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Scott Lang)
Black Ant
Black Ant

(Eric O'Grady LMD)
Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

(Jane Foster)

(Nadia Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Avengers Incorporated, Blizzard, Henry Pym, Oddball (Elton Healey), Speed Demon, Stinger (Cassie Lang), Vic Shade, Whirlwind (David Cannon).

> Avengers Inc: Book info and issue index

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