Avengers West Coast #90

Issue Date: 
January 1993
Story Title: 
Death Valley Daze

Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Dave Ross (penciler), Tim Dzon (inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), John Lewandowski (Assistant Editor) Nel Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and the Vision who suddenly appeared at the Avengers West Compound take on Ultron, while Consuela and Roberto flee with Rachel Carpenter. USAgent, Spider-Woman, Mockingbird and Wonder Man return and they too try to take on Ultron, but in the process, he kidnaps Mockingbird. The Avengers West gather themselves, and discover the body of their murdered Compound Staffer, Carlos, while the Vision attempts to locate the old Ultron bodies that the Ultimate Ultron stole when he escaped. Consuela returns with Rachel soon, much to Spider-Woman’s relief, and the Vision locates Ultron in Death Valley, which the Scarlet Witch announces is where Hank Pym is currently taking his sabbatical. The Avengers leave for Death Valley, and the Living Lightning phones in from College to see if he can help, but Consuela tells him the Avengers are gone and informs him Carlos is dead. En route, USAgent argues with almost everyone, while the Scarlet Witch is reminded again of how much the Vision is unlike the man she married. In Death Valley, Ultron reunites himself with his “father” before forcing Hank Pym and Dr. MacLain to help him create a new adamantium bride - from Mockingbird! The Avengers West Coast soon arrive, and the old Ultron bodies battle them, while no one notices Hawkeye, who has been constantly hassled by USAgent lately, drink some serum, which transforms him into Goliath again. He quickly makes rubbish of the remaining Ultron bodies, before Ultron emerges with his new bride, once Mockingbird - now War Toy!

Full Summary: 

‘Surrender, robot – now – or face the wrath of three Avengers!’ exclaims the ghostly android Avenger (of the East Coast team) known as the Vision as he stands before his robotic “father”, the deadly Ultron at the Palos Verdes Compound of the Avengers West Coast. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) and the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) stand nearby. Ultron tells his son that there is no need for them to fight over the safety of a human and a mutant. ‘After all, I created you, just as Dr. Henry Pym created me!’ Ultron reminds his son, asking what reason they have to oppose each other. ‘We should be allies – two superior life forms keeping each other company, for millennia after all organic life has perished from this planet’.

Clint, with his bow and arrow ready to fire, turns to his dear friend Wanda and remarks that he doesn’t want to look a “gift-android” in the mouth, before asking Wanda if she was expecting her ex-husband show up here today. ‘No’ a confused Wanda replies, while Ultron asks the synthetic Avenger what his answer is. ‘Surely you knew my response before you voiced your question, Ultron’ the Vision replies monotonously. ‘I suppose I did, but a parent can always hope’ Ultron replies, before declaring that any who is not with him on his anti-organic crusade must be considered against him, and therefore must be dealt with by his “robo-ticks”.

Ultron once more bombards the Vision with his “bytes”, while the Vision analyzes them, discovering that they are sentient computer chips, artificially enhanced to assimilate human flesh and transmute it into additional life energy. The Vision destroys them with his powerful solar beam, remarking that, not only is his synthetic flesh immune to them, he has his methods of fighting against them, and suggests to Ultron that he should have designed them so that they resist a temperature greater than a mere 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Vision decides that he should see if Ultron can resist the same temperature in his own body, and casts his solar beam towards Ultron, creating a blinding glare which then ricochets around the surrounding area in beams of intense heat. The Scarlet Witch tells her ex-husband to stop it, while the Vision points out that it could hurt somebody.

One of those some bodies is likely to be one of the Compound staff – Consuela, Carlos or the groundskeeper, and Spider-Woman’s daughter, Rachel Carpenter, who are taking shelter nearby after Ultron’s attack. Rachel holds onto Consuela, asking if that robot is really going to kill them all. ‘It will if we stay here, honey’ the kindly woman replies while shielding Rachel, before telling Roberto to get the van, least they end up dead like poor Carlos. Roberto and the groundskeeper begin running towards the van, with Consuela and Rachel in tow.

The Vision ceases the use of his solar beam and apologizes to his former teammates, admitting that he should have known his solar jewel could not generate enough heat to melt adamantium. Vision excuses himself, remarking that he must try a more direct approach, and leaps towards Ultron, who fires beams of energy at him, though the Vision is intangible, and plunges his arms into Ultron’s chest and head. ‘I hope the rest of you likes what they find there’ Ultron exclaims. ‘It will be the last semblance of pleasure you will know – before I rend you limb from artificial limb!’ Ultron boasts as he forces the Vision from him and slams against a wall, adding that can retrieve what he actually came here for.

Nearby, Consuela tells Rachel to get in the van, as the robot is really tearing up the place. ‘But Wanda – Hawkeye!’ Rachel protests. Consuela replies that in a case like this, her orders are to get Rachel out of here. Roberto agrees, and points out that if the Avengers cannot stop that thing, then there is nothing they can do to help them, before driving away with Consuela and Rachel, while the groundskeeper leaves in the other van.

The Vision leaps up from the ground and punches Ultron in the face, while Ultron remarks that the Vision is even more resilient than before, but tells him that making his body as hard as diamond will avail him nothing. ‘For whether diamond strikes adamantium, or adamantium strikes diamond, it’s diamond that will be shattered to bits!’ Ultron boasts as he slams the Vision to the ground. Wanda turns to Clint and asks him if can do something, as they have got to keep Ultron here until the others get back from San Diego.

Hawkeye replies that he will try, before asking Wanda about her hex bolts. Wanda exclaims that they are not working, but that she doesn’t know why. ‘Well at least my flare arrow is!’ Hawkeye exclaims as he fires it at Ultron, while hoping that Ultron still operates on optic sensors, not some kind of radar. As Ultron drops the Vision and steps backwards, Clint realizes that Ultron must still have “artificial eyeballs”, and now he’s blinded. Wanda rushes over to the Vision and asks him if he is all right, exclaiming that she was so worried. ‘I sincerely appreciate your concern’ the Vision replies matter-of-factly. ‘You what?’ Wanda replies, annoyed.

Ultron gathers himself and tells the Scarlet Witch that her anxiety is wasted on the Vision, ‘Though I suppose yours is a touching expression of emotion, all the same’ he adds, before blasting the wall behind Wanda and the Vision. ‘Look out! That wall!’ cries Hawkeye, but it’s too late, as it crashes down upon them. ‘I believe the saw it, Archer – and felt it as well’ Ultron replies, before turning his attention to the handsome Avenger, telling him that if he thinks an explosive arrow will find it’s way past his defences, then he best think again. ‘If you survive’ Ultron adds as he grabs the arrow that Hawkeye fired at him, and tosses it back, where it explodes.

Ultron enters the main building, declaring that these humans are fools to sacrifice themselves on the altar of their own self-importance. ‘As if I cared whether any individual human being lived or died – when my goal is the complete obliteration of all organic life on Earth!’ Ultron remarks that his previous schemes seem paltry, even putrid, as they only dealt with ruling or destroying only the human life, which would have still left plants, and even animals which might have one day evolved into some new threat to his supremacy.

Making his way into a lab, Ultron remarks that his recent incarceration has allowed him to reflect that only robotic life should be allowed to exist on this planet, and that the planet would only be a mere extension of himself. ‘What better place to start, therefore, than with these earlier incarnations of myself, stored here for examination by Dr. Henry Pym!’ Ultron looks at his earlier selves encased in a cell, noting that Hank gathered them all over the years – even the remains of that human lover, Ultron-12, and the adamantium scarp into which the interferer Reed Richards had turned into Ultron-10 and his spare bodies.

Ultron opens the cell, remarking that what his esteemed creator / father never imagined of course, was that when he amassed all these less aesthetically pleasing Ultrons, ‘He was actually gathering them for me!’ With that, Ultron uses a energy beam to carry the spare Ultron parts with him as he takes flight, flying over the rubble where Hawkeye emerges, ‘Bobbi…’ Clint utters wearily, while the Avengers Quinjet returns. Wonder Man (Simon Williams) motions out the window at the flying Ultron, and points out that he is making off with enough spare parts to build himself an army of little Ultrons. ‘We’ve got to stop him!’ Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) exclaims.

USAgent (Johnny Walker) stands at the edge of the Quinjet door and remarks that, for once, he actually agrees with Spider-Woman. ‘In fact, I’m right a head of you!’ the handsome hero boasts as he leaps from the Quinjet, using his shield to slow his fall, while Wonder Man and Spider-Woman drop out of the hatch behind him. ‘More Avengers? I fear I have no time for you!’ Ultron remarks as he flies by and dodges the three airborne Avengers. ‘He dodged us!’ a surprised Wonder Man exclaims before and Johnny land safely on the ground. Simon then tells Julia not to worry, as he has her, and she lands in his arms, replying that she wasn’t worried – much. Johnny asks where everyone is, before pointing to the pool and exclaiming that he thinks he sees a body, then remarking that Mockingbird better watch her bootie.

Indeed, Mockingbird (Barbara Morse-Barton) is flying the Quinjet, and Ultron notices her, deciding that if one or more of the Avengers will persist in trying to ram him, then perhaps he should make a pre-emptive strike. And with that, he leaps onto the Quinjet and smashes through the windshield, surprising Bobbi. Ultron remarks that it is highly unlikely he shall have been of a human hostage, but that if he does, then the female called Mockingbird will suffice. As he knocks her out and takes her from the Quinjet, which falls to the beach below the Compound Cliffs, Ultron, with his spare parts in tow, mutters that an idea is also beginning to form.

‘Another Quinjet bites the dust’ Wonder Man mumbles as he uses a hose to put out the fires which resulted from Ultron’s attack, and remarks that they have their hands full here. Hawkeye exclaims that Ultron has got Bobbi, to which Walker, who is also putting out the fires, replies that there is nothing they can do about that now, and asks where the Scarlet Witch is. Spider-Woman replies that she can see something moving under some rubble, and an instant later, the Vision rises, holding some rubble high above him as Wanda emerges too.

The Avengers West Coast are surprised to see the Vision, while Wanda thanks him for saving her life. ‘I would have done as much for any Avenger’ the android replies. ‘Yes…I know’ an exasperated Wanda mutters. Spider-Woman exclaims that she is thankful Roberto was able to call them from the car to let them know that he, Rachel and Consuela are all safe, when suddenly, Hawkeye tells Julia to watch out where she is stepping. ‘Why? What? Oh…’ Julia replies as she looks down and sees Carlos’ motionless body. Julia remarks that Roberto told them that Ultron had killed him, but that it didn’t seem possible. ‘When we left he was cleaning the pool, talking with Rachel…’ Julia’s voice trails off.

Wonder Man turns to his brother the Vision and asks if it wasn’t just a coincidence that he arrived when he did. The Vision replies that it wasn’t, as he had learned Ultron escaped from the Vault and that an hour later, a quantity of adamantium was stolen from a facility in the Silicon Valley. Walker asks the Vision if he figured that if Ultron wanted more then he would show up here, to which the Vision asks if Dr. Pym is on the premises. Wanda explains that Hank is off doing research, and Julia informs the Vision that Ultron had captured Dr. MacLain by the time they got to San Diego also.

Hawkeye wishes that they could trace Ultron some how, to which the Vision replies that they might be able to, provided Ultron did less damage to the computers than he did to the Compound, and everyone follows him into one of the labs. USAgent replies that this room is well shielded, and asks the Vision what his plan is. The Vision reveals that Dr. Pym once told him that he had “tagged” the various Ultron bodies kept here, so they can probably trace them. The Vision adds that it will take a bit of time as he begins working at one of the consoles. ‘”A bit of time”?’ Hawkeye repeats the Vision. ‘While my wife’s at Ultron’s mercy? You can blasted well do better than that!’ he exclaims.

The Vision apologizes for his shortcomings, assuring Clint that he will do everything he can to expedite his search. ‘Yeah? Well, expedite this, android!’ Clint replies, to which Wanda suggests that the two of them take a walk, and leads Clint away, assuring him that they all know how much he cares for her, even if the two of them are about to be divorced. Hawkeye replies that the Vision is just so cold, so emotionless. ‘Tell me about it’ Wanda replies. Clint apologizes to his friend and admits that he does a whole lot more than “care” about Bobbi, revealing that he loves her, that he has always loved her. ‘I don’t know what I’d do if…’ his voice trails off, to which Wanda tells him not to think about it. ‘If it’s possible, we’ll find her’ she assures him sincerely.

Meanwhile, in the part of the California Desert known as Death Valley, a man who does not want to be found labours over his own state-of-the-art computers. It is Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym. Ultron, the Avengers and his ex-wife the Wasp are al far from his mind. He wants nothing more out of life than to pursue his researches in applied bio-chemistry. All that is about to change, as large beams of energy burst into the lab, ‘What the Devil -!’ exclaims Hank as he falls off his chair. Rising from the smoke, ‘Not a Devil, “father” – only your precious “son”!’ Ultron exclaims as he pulls his spare parts into the lab. ‘Ultron – free!’ exclaims a shocked Hank, before noticing the unconscious Mockingbird and asking what he is doing with her, what he wants.

‘”Want”?’ Ultron replies, revealing another prisoner – Dr. MacLain – he remarks that when he liberated these metallic bits and pieces from the Avengers West Compound, he wanted only to destroy all natural life on Earth. Ultron adds that, on his way here, he realized he wanted one more thing, something Hank could give him better than he could give himself. ‘And that something is –‘ Ultron begins, to which Hank interrupts, ‘Forget I asked!’ he exclaims as he uses his Pym Particles to return a weapon to its original size, ‘If you want it, it’s got to be something against me!’ he exclaims as he readies the weapon, only for Ultron to smack it out of his hands.

Hank attempts to use his powers again, this time to shrink Ultron down to the size of a crackerjack prize. ‘Or maybe I won’t’ Hank mumbles as his powers don’t work against his foe, who then smashes Hank across the lab, where he slams hard against a wall. ‘Now, dear creator – my most unwilling fountain of life – you will listen to me!’ Ultron demands. Hank wipes the blood from his face and asks the robot what it wants, before remarking that, judging by what Ultron has brought along with him, he suspects that he has more than an inkling to the answer. ‘I demand that you make for me – and adamantium mate!’ Ultron announces. ‘I was afraid you were going to say that’ Hank replies.

Back in Palos Verdes, the Vision announces that the computer has located adamantium bodies which no longer appear to be moving. Wonder Man replies that this is good, and remarks that unless Ultron suspects them to be tagged, he may stay put for a while. The Vision remarks that they have stopped in a most symbolic destination – the harsh expanse of desert known as Death Valley. Wanda points out that is where Hank went to get away from everything. ‘Uh-oh’ remarks Simon, while suddenly, a voice calls out ‘Mom!’ Everyone turns to see Rachel, followed by Consuela and Roberto enter the lab. ‘Mom, it was awful – that big robot –‘ she exclaims.

Julia tells her daughter that they know all about Ultron, before embracing her daughter, ‘Thank Heaven you’re all right!’ Julia exclaims, before telling Consuela and Roberto that she cannot thank them enough for getting her daughter away from all the carnage. Consuela asks if there is any word on Carlos. ‘We sat that robot blast him…’ her voice trails off. Julia cannot say anything, so Simon announces that Carlos was killed instantly. Roberto asks Wonder Man to get that thing, not that it will bring poor Carlos back to life.

Hawkeye re-enters and informs everyone that the other Quinjets are okay. Wanda informs Clint that they have learned Ultron is in Death Valley – most likely at Hank’s. Hawkeye declares that they need to get cracking then, before there are any more murders on their hands. ‘Whatever happens to Hank, or to Bobbi, this is on time this West Coast bunch is gonna live up to their name – as Avengers!’ Hawkeye declares trying to boost the morale, before he, Wanda, Johnny, Simon, Julia and the Vision depart in another Quinjet. ‘Vayan con dios Vengadores!’ Consuela cries out as she, Rachel and Roberto watch the Quinjet depart.

Suddenly, the telephone, lying in a pile of rubble, rings, and Consuela answers it, where upon she is greeted by the Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), reserve member of the team. Miguel has already learned of the flight, and Consuela informs him that Carlos is dead. The Living Lightning asks about the Avengers, but Consuela replies that she does not know where they have done. ‘Guess they figured they’d get by without the Living Lightning’ Miguel replies, before telling Consuela that he is sorry about Carlos and remarking that he has to get back to class. Before he hangs up, Miguel assures Consuela that he will call back later.

Meanwhile, heading East, Wonder Man asks if Ultron didn’t give any clues as to how he means to depopulate the Earth. USAgent replies that, whatever he is up to, his old bodies must figure into it somehow. Wanda tells the Vision that it is nice to see him again, despite the circumstances, and asks if he will be staying in California for any length of time. ‘Only until this business is completed, Wanda. After that, my place is with the Avengers East’ the Vision replies, causing a teary-eyed Wanda to turn away from him.

Spider-Woman asks USAgent if he has to keep his shield on the seat, to which Johnny replies ‘What’s your problem? In a bad mood because Hawkeye’s wife is back in the picture?’. Hawkeye overhears this and is about to yell at Walker when Julia slaps him, assuring Clint that the situation is handled. Wonder Man then informs everyone that as soon as they pass telescope peak, they will be right over Death Valley.

At that moment, Mockingbird opens her eyes. ‘Awake at last, my dear Jocasta’ Ultron remarks. ‘I’m awake all right, but don’t confuse me with that robot you built to be your “Bride of Frankenstein”!’ Bobbi exclaims, before finding herself strapped to a table. Ultron informs Barbara that his desire for a mate is why he has mecho-mesmerized Dr. Pym and Dr. MacLain, telling Mockingbird that in that sense, she shall survive, when all other life on Earth has long perished. ‘My God – you’re going to “robotize” me, aren’t you!’ Bobbi exclaims, horrified. ‘Turn me into a robot, like you once tried to do to the whole human race!’ she adds.

The hypnotized Hank Pym addressing Ultron as “Master” and announces than an aircraft is approaching at high velocity. Ultron replies that this will be the Avengers West, attempting to play the “knights in shinning armor” to rescue the fair damsel. Ultron declares that the Avengers West will soon find that when they are no mere men inside, metal armor can be far more effective, and sends the various parts of his old selves out to ambush the Quinjet.

The first attack strikes the wing, before Wonder Man and the Vision take flight, ‘We lose more Quinjets that way!’ Simon jokes, remarking that it is good this one barely got clipped, while the Vision points out that it is the reactivated Ultron bodies that must concern them now, before blasting one of them with a solar beam. ‘I knew that!’ Simon replies as he jumps on top of one of the headless robots.

The Quinjet lands and Hawkeye tells the others to watch out for the robots, as being adamantium, they will not be easy to take out. The Vision remarks that it is fortunate the robots can be maneuvered into doing each other damage as he becomes intangible while two robots try to attack him at the same time, the result being that they smash into each other instead. ‘By you maybe’ Wanda thinks to herself, while preparing to cast a hex, she hopes her powers kick in this time – and they do, shattering one of the robots into countless parts. ‘But next time? Who knows…’ Wanda thinks to herself.

Suddenly, USAgent pushes Hawkeye aside, ‘Hey, you ruined my shot!’ Clint snaps at Johnny, who replies ‘Like you’ve really got something that’ll dent adamantium right?’ Walker remarks, before telling Clint to save his arrows for the next turkey shoot, while he, Wonder Man and Spider-Woman use physical combat against the robots. ‘Let the big kids rescue your better half!’ Walker adds as he tosses a robot aside with ease, while Wonder Man tells him to get off Hawkeye’s case. Standing up for his friend, Wonder Man exclaims that Clint is doing the best he can, while USAgent motions to another barrage of robots that are headed their way, and declares that the team needs to clear a path to Pym’s lab up ahead, while Clint suddenly drinks something from a vial, ‘The best I used to be able to do, you mean, Simon’ Clint thinks to himself.

Suddenly, ‘You couldn’t clear up pimples, featherhead!’ Hawkeye exclaims as he rushes past a surprised USAgent. ‘Stop him!’ Julia calls out as she sees Hawkeye engage in combat with several robots. ‘He’ll get himself killed!’ Julia exclaims before heading over to Hawkeye and asking Walker and Simon to help her get Clint free of the robots. USAgent exclaims that Hawkeye has flipped, that he is so crazy he would risk committing suicide to rescue Mockingbird, before telling everyone to hold it as he notices something happening in the middle of the pile up – something pushing the robots up.

Suddenly, ‘Up, up and away – as somebody used to say!’ Hawkeye exclaims as his now giant form stands high above everyone else. His purple and blue costume lying in tatters on the ground, he is now sporting a rather revealing brown and orange outfit, while the Ultron robots fall from his body and smash against the ground. ‘Barton! You sonuva…’ begins USAgent, while Wanda remarks that Clint wasn’t just checking the Quinjets back at the Compound, to which Clint replies ‘just call me Goliath!’
The Avengers West and the Vision continue to deal with the remaining robots, while Clint declares that neither slingshot nor robot is going to keep him from getting to Bobbi, and begins to rush towards the lab, while Wonder Man tells his friend that he believes him. Seeing Ultron emerge at the front of the lab, Clint calls out to him, ‘Hand her over, Ultron – along with Hank and anybody else you’ve got in there – or else!’ he shouts. ‘Clearly, Avenger, your brain has not grown proportionally to your body, or you would know that sheer size has very little to do with the extent of my power’ Ultron replies.

Ultron admits that he would have formerly relished crushing Hawkeye’s now overly-enlarged bones in his unbreakable grip, this is a pleasure that he has reserved for… ‘My bride!’ Ultron announces. An explosion in the building creates another “entrance” next to Ultron, and someone steps out of the lab. ‘Oh my God…’ Clint whispers in shock. ‘No!’ cries Wanda as everyone sees an female adamantium robot standing next to Ultron, wearing a headpiece very similar to Mockingbird’s mask.

Ultron grins wickedly as he introduces to the Avengers his soul-mate of flesh-become-adamantium – Alkhema, also known as War Toy…’You once knew her by the epithet “Mockingbird”!’ Ultron reveals, while fire rages behind the powerful robots. ‘Hello, Clint, darling’ Alkhema exclaims snarls. ‘Would you like to be killed first – or last!?’

Characters Involved: 

Hawkeye / Goliath II, Mockingbird, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)

Dr. Henry Pym (former member of the Avengers West Coast)

Living Lightning (reserve member of the Avengers West Coast)

Vision (former member of the Avengers West Coast, current Avenger)

Rachel Carpenter

Consuela, Roberto and the groundskeeper (all Avengers West Compound Staff)

Body of Carlos

Ultimate Ultron

Alkhema / War-Toy

Dr. Myron Malian

Story Notes: 

Ultron was created by Hank Pym in the classic Avengers (1st series) #54/58.

Ultron created the Vision in the equally classic Avengers (1st series) #57.

Carlos was slain by Ultron in Avengers West Coast #89.

The damages that Ultron causes across the Compound this issue, and further damages that it sustains, are all mentioned in the final issue #102, as being terribly expensive to repair, which is part of the reason the team is forced to shut down.

The Scarlet Witch and Vision, after a long relationship, were torn apart when the Vision’s body was destroyed, and he was subsequently rebuilt with no emotions in the classic West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45. The effectively became divorced when the Vision quit the West Coast team to rejoin the East Coast team a few issues later.

Spider-Woman II and Hawkeye had somewhat of an instant attraction to each other when Julia aided the Avengers West Coast during the “Pacific Overlords” affair [Avengers West Coast #70-74], and she subsequently joined the team. However, Hawkeye’s estranged wife, Mockingbird came back into the picture around the same time, so no relationship between Clint and Julia, aside from friendship, emerged. Hawkeye and Mockingbird separated [in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #37] when Clint learned Bobbi had let the Phantom Rider fall to his death after he drugged and raped her. [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #18-23].

Ultron’s first attempt at creating a mate was of course Jocasta, whose brain-patterns were based on the Wasp - Ultron’s “mother”. [Avengers (1st series) #162] Of course Jocasta would betray Ultron, and eventually became an Honorary Avenger, though she has been killed and rebuilt on occasion since then.

Ultron attempted to turn the entire human race into robots in “The Reaper and the Robot” storyline, Avengers West Coast #65-69.

Hawkeye first became Goliath II way back in Avengers (1st series) #63. He would occasionally use this power when needed.

First appearance of Alkhema.

Issue Information: 
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