Avengers West Coast #91

Issue Date: 
February 1993
Story Title: 
War Toy!

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: 

The West Coast Avengers, including Hawkeye who has just taken Dr. Pym’s serum to transform himself into Goliath, are shocked to learn that Mockingbird has been transformed into Alkhema - Ultron’s “War Toy”. Alkhema quickly disposes of Goliath, while the Avengers West and the Vision engage Ultron and Alkhema in battle. Although they fight valiantly, the adamantium bride-and-groom are too powerful - even the temporarily powerless Scarlet Witch attempts to ram them with the Quinjet, but that fails. Goliath manages to shrink himself to ant-size during the mêlée and enters Hank Pym’s lab where he rescues the injured Dr. Pym and Dr. Myron MacLain, before returning to the battle at giant-size and taking to Ultron and Alkhema with a slab of adamantium. Ultron and Alkhema soon take flight, leaving Hank’s lab in the desert and heading to their next location for the continuation of their plan. At this point, Mockingbird makes a miraculous appearance, to a much relieved husband, and the two quickly decide not to get divorced. The Scarlet Witch and the Vision exchange words, before it is explained that Ultron copied Mockingbird’s brain patterns and likeness in creating Alkhema. Hank Pym informs everyone where he thinks Ultron is going - to the Sun Lake Weapons Center, which is where deadly weapons of all manner are tested. The Avengers West, along with the Vision, Hank and Dr. MacLain make their way to Sun Lake, where Ultron and Alkhema, who argue about the possible ways they can end all organic life on Earth, are busy destroying the facility’s soldiers. The facility’s commanding officer leads Hank, Mockingbird, the Vision and Dr. MacLain down to where a powerful weapon is help, while the others keep Ultron and Alkhema busy. Soon though, a massive missile rises from an open silo with the Vision strapped to it, while Mockingbird, Hank and company put their plan into motion. Ultron and Alkhema find themselves stuck to the Vision who turns himself into an electro-magnet for adamantium, and the missile is launched. Thankfully, it detonates above Earth’s atmosphere, and the Vision manages to make himself intangible thus surviving the blast, he returns to Earth, where the heroes go to celebrate, save for Wanda, who Wonder Man realizes apparently has finally accepted her marriage to the Vision is over, and he wonders if he too is as inhuman as the Vision.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in the aptly named Death Valley. ‘Bobbi…?’ Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, now in his Goliath form, calls out to the robotic horror standing before he and his teammates in the Avengers West Coast. The deadly Ultron exclaims in reply ‘Your once-human mate no longer replies to that cloying name, Avenger!’ before declaring that she prefers to be called Alkhema. ‘Or, if you are hopelessly addicted to more descriptive epithets – WAR TOY!’

With that, Alkhema casts a blast of energy at the over-sized Clint Barton, causing him to smash against a nearby wall. Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter looks over, concerned for her friend, while the other Avengers scatter as Alkhema asks Ultron if she did well. Ultron replies that Alkhema makes him proud to have created her in Dr. Pym’s laboratory from frail human flesh and indestructible adamantium. Alkhema asks what they will do next, to which Ultron replies ‘Why, kill these Avengers of course! What else?’.

Simon “Wonder Man” Williams points out that they need a plan, to which Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff takes charge, suggesting Simon and Julia get Ultron, while USAgent and Vision try to disable this so-called “War Toy”, before reminding them that Ultron claims that she is really Mockingbird whom he has transformed into a robot. Wanda adds that since her hex powers have been malfunctioning again, she will see if there is anything she can do to help Hawkeye, but turning to where he landed, Wanda sees that Clint is gone.

The handsome Johnny “USAgent” Walker leaps into action against Alkhema, ‘I don’t know who the Scarlet Witch is to start dishing out orders…’ he mutters, to which former Avenger West Coast member, and current member of the East Coast branch, the ghostly Vision, replies that someone must, before suggesting that he approaches the female robot first. The Vision explains that he has analyzed her head beam, and that it is of a type which he can withstand.

But as the Vision flies into the direct line of Alkhema’s beam, he cries out in pain as the robot-woman asks if it ever occurred to him that a computer-age cutie like her might be capable of changing frequencies. ‘Maybe even to one that can disrupt your innards the way you’ve often done to others?’ she adds. ‘That tears it! Bobbi or no Bobbi – you’re dangerous, lady. I’m taking you out!’ USAgent exclaims as he punches Alkhema hard in the face with his augmented strength. But Johnny quickly retracts his fist and shouts out loud, to which Alkhema replies that is what he gets for hitting somebody made of adamantium and charged with electrical energy. ‘Then again, I find hitting you a distinct pleasure’ Alkhema adds as she smacks her fist into USAgent.

‘Come and get me, robot!’ Wonder Man calls out as he approaches Ultron, who replies ‘If that is how you prefer it’ before remarking that whichever of them makes the first move, it will make no difference in the outcome. ‘Oh you never know, Ultron…it just might!’ whispers Julia as she creates a psionic web and wraps it around Ultron’s legs, confused, Ultron then stumbles to the ground as he tried to walk forward. Wonder Man congratulates his friend as he leaps against Ultron and punches his face, ‘Now if we can just keep him down!’ Spider-Woman exclaims, while Ultron calls them human fools and tells them that they are merely postponing the inevitable by opposing the irresistible.

Meanwhile, Clint clutches his head as he, at “Ant-Man” size, makes his way into Dr. Henry Pym’s lab. ‘Boy, that really hurt’ he thinks to himself, while realizing that his body, when he is Goliath, seems to be even sturdier than Hank Pym’s used to be. Clint admits that he wasn’t going to be much help out there, hence why he’s taken a powder, but he is more concerned at looking what remains of Hank’s lab after the explosion. Clint thinks that even if Ultron has robotized Barbara, there still might be something here that can reverse the process, before wondering where Hank is, as they haven’t seen him.

Suddenly, Clint hears a moan coming from under a pile of rubble and wonders if it is his long-time friend. Clint remembers that Hank always said not to change sizes too often in a short time span, but does so anyway and increases his form back to the fifteen feet Goliath and begins digging through the rubble. ‘Hang on to your test tubes, Doc! I’m on my way!’ Clint calls out, before coming across a plate of adamantium and remarking that it is no wonder Hank survived the explosion if this was here to shield him. Clint calls out to Hank, exclaiming that he will be another few seconds, only for him to keel over in a state of dizziness.

Back outside, Ultron has gained the upper hand on Julia and Simon and exclaims that he seeks to do the Earth an inestimable kindness by relieving it of all organic life. ‘What right have you to oppose me?’ he asks before grabbing a protesting Spider-Woman, while Wonder Man replies that they have the right of human beings. Ultron suddenly smashes the two friends heads’ together, and mocks Simon’s right, before remarking that they have the rights of ants if he elects to tread upon their anthill, and the right of weeds if he decides to root them out.

Spider-Woman and Wonder Man lie motionless beneath Ultron, while the Vision lies unmoving near Alkhema, who holds USAgent by his neck. Alkhema remarks that her data retrieval is still a bit spotty, and exclaims ‘Tell me, Ulty – are all human beings as easy to squash as this bunch?’ ‘”Ulty”?’ Ultron replies, before remarking that it may be he left too much of Mockingbird in her cyber-emotional makeup. Ultron then wonders where the Scarlet Witch has got to. ‘Well, my memory bank only goes back about ten minutes – but is that her?’ Alkhema asks as the Avengers Quinjet streaks towards her and Ultron ready for a full on collision.

The glamorous Scarlet Witch scowls while piloting the powerful Avengers Quinjet toward her enemies. For in the past few moments, Wanda has seen four of the most powerful Avengers fall before the Ultimate Ultron and his mate. Void of her own hex powers, this is the only way Wanda can see of equalling the force that opposes her.

But, alas for mankind – even 34,000 pounds of thrust cannot move sentient robots of indestructible adamantium when they are firmly braced – which Ultron and Alkhema are. The Quinjet buckles backwards and Wanda is rendered unconscious while Ultron remarks that the Scarlet Witch has perhaps even more courage than the others, so logically, they must execute her first. ‘I’d make it fast, Ulty’ Alkhema remarks, to which Ultron replies that he thought he made it clear that he did not care for that name, only to discover why Alkhema suggested he make the Scarlet Witch’s execution fast, as Goliath returns, carrying a slab of adamantium.

‘Divide this between you!’ Clint exclaims as he smacks the adamantium slab into Ultron and Alkhema. ‘This is one thing the two of you can’t laugh off, right?’ Clint adds. ‘Cause it’s made of the same stuff you are!’. The Vision asks his brother, Wonder Man, if he is badly hurt, to which Simon replies that he is not, and that they must help Hawkeye. ‘Got to admit, he’s actually looking half-way good for once!’ Walker remarks about Clint as he and Julia gain consciousness and assess the situation. ‘What do you mean, “halfway”!?’ Clint asks, when suddenly he begins to shrinks, supposing that his last antics took it all out of him.

Ultron and Alkhema gather themselves, and as they prepare to face the Avengers West and the Vision, Ultron exclaims that they are wasting valuable time here. ‘A few individual human lives mean less than nothing to us!’ Ultron exclaims. ‘They don’t?’ Alkhema asks, suggesting that Ultron clue her in as to why, for she was really looking forward to wasting these guys. ‘Your enthusiasm for mayhem and murder are refreshing, my mate - but my - our - goal is nothing less than the obliteration of all organic life on this planet!’ Ultron replies, adding that it is time they got on with it. ‘We’ll have to talk about that, Ulty’ Alkhema replies as they both take flight. ‘Stop calling me that!’ Ultron exclaims.

‘They’re airborne!’ Walker exclaims, before asking how Hawkeye is. Julia is crouching beside him and replies that she thinks he will be okay. ‘Bobbi…’ Clint utters wearily, while Wonder Man calls out for the Vision while he pulls Wanda from the wreckage of the Quinjet. The Vision drops down from the air and replies that he was pursuing Ultron - to no avail. Simon asks his brother how he could leave before he knew for sure that Wanda was alive. ‘You’re no more human than those two robots!’ Simon tells the Vision. ‘Or maybe - me!’ Simon thinks to himself.

Suddenly, a figure stands over Clint’s fallen body. ‘Well, I leave you on your own for a minute - and you go out and buy a whole new wardrobe!’ Clint looks up and sees his wife Mockingbird standing before him.

Hawkeye gets to his feet, confused, ‘But Ultron said he had turned you into…’ his voice trails off. ‘You always believe everything a power-mad robot tells you?’ she asks, while Hank Pym and Dr. MacLain stand some feet behind her. Bobbi explains that, as far as she can tell before the roof caved in, Ultron just copied her brain patterns for his mate, then shoved her aside and forgot about her. Bobbi takes off her mask, and pulls Clint’s mask back off his face too. ‘Look - about the divorce -’ Clint exclaims. ‘What?’ Bobbi asks. ‘Do you really want it?’ Clint asks. ‘No!’ Bobbi declares. ‘Well, then…?’ he asks. ‘Well then…’ Bobbi replies, before they kiss passionately.

The Vision tells his ex-wife that he is glad to see she is not hurt, and asks her if he can help her up. ‘Vision…I…I’d just rather you didn’t, all right?’ Wanda retorts, remarking that it is high time she learned to stand by herself again. Wonder Man calls out to Wanda, ‘Look what Hawkeye found under an adamantium slab!’ he remarks, motioning to Hank and Dr. MacLain. Wanda greets the two brilliant scientists and remarks that the Avengers were afraid Ultron had murdered them both. Dr. Myron MacLain, the creator of adamantium, replies that Ultron hypnotized them both to help him synthesize Mockingbird’s mind and body, using his new process for making adamantium.

‘”Synthesize”?’ Spider-Woman asks. Hank explains that it is a lot like making a duplicate key - at least to a point, which is why War-Toy talked like Bobbi, but didn’t have her memories. The Vision declares that what matters is that Ultron seemed to have a specific destination in mind when he flew southward, to which Simon remarks that surely there cannot be anything out here that Ultron could use to destroy all life on Earth. ‘Sun Lake Weapons Center!’ exclaims Hank. ‘What?’ Simon asks, while Wanda replies that she has heard of it. Hank explains that the military tests and stores “black” weapons there - weapons that don’t officially exist. ‘And some of them are real killers!’ Hank warns.

While Hank grabs something from, his destroyed lab, Wanda asks him if he means atomic, chemical or biological weapons. ‘All of the above!’ Hank replies, adding that Ultron is liable to set off a super-Chernobyl which might even activate dormant volcanoes up and down the Sierra Nevadas. Wanda replies that without transportation there is no way they can stop him in time, to which Hank holds out his hand and announces that he has their Pym-Particle saturated ride right here, revealing a shrunken craft.

Everyone gathers around as Dr. Pym increases craft to an appropriate size, while the Vision remarks that even to an android who is in a sense Hank’s “grandson”, his powers of miniaturization are most impressive. ‘A power better used on “Rover” these days - even Hawkeye - than on myself’ Hank replies, before ushering everyone into the craft. As the craft takes off, Hank remarks that, at 250 miles per hour they won’t reach Sun Lake before Ultron and his metal Madonna, but if they don’t stop him they are liable to be the first of five billion casualties. ‘And that’s just counting the human race!’.

Sun Lake, ‘There lies our destination, my War Toy!’ Ultron cries as he and Alkhema approach the facility. ‘Waiting for the coming dawn!’ Ultron adds, while Alkhema remarks that it is a dawn they are going to make a zillion times brighter. ‘But I am not your “toy”!’ she warns Ultron. ‘What do you mean? I created you, you are -’ Ultron begins, before assuring Alkhema that they will settle this later, motioning to the approaching air craft, he points out that they must deal to the Weapon Center’s defenders. Alkhema replies that they agree on that, and both begin firing their arsenal at the approaching jets.

One of the pilots radios to the other, asking what’s going up there, to which the other replies that as soon as he figures out, he will let him know, but that one thing is for sure, gunfire is not going to bring them down. Ultron blasts one of the jets, ‘Huh? Now where’s she going?’ one of the pilots asks, referring to Alkhema. ‘”She”?’ replies one of the other pilots. ‘Are you drunk or what?’. The first jet exclaims that he has to get her back in his sight, when suddenly Alkhema lands on top of his jet.

‘No reason for me to be in your sights, flyboy!’ she exclaims, ‘When you’re right in the middle of mine!’ With that, Alkhema cuts her way into the jet and grabs the shocked pilot. ‘Sayonara, sucker!’ Alkhema exclaims as she throws the pilot out into the open air. ‘Hmmm…I’m not sure quite what that means’ Alkhema remarks. ‘Something that seeped in from my human model, I guess, but it seemed just right at the time’.

Ultron tells Alkhema that she has done well. ‘But about this rebellious streak…’ he begins, only for Alkhema to remind him that he wanted a metallic mate who was not merely an extension of himself. ‘Well, congratulations! You got her!’. Alkhema shouts. ‘So it would…seem’ Ultron replies, before Alkhema, calling Ultron “Ulty” again, asks if they should take care of the groundlings. Large weapons begin firing at Ultron and Alkhema, who quickly take them out, before Ultron demands to know why Alkhema resists his orders. ‘Because I don’t want you destroying a whole planet full of life, just like that!’ Alkhema replies defiantly.

‘Do you mean - you intend to save Earth’s life forms?’ Ultron asks, shocked. ‘Are you kidding? I mean I want to wipe them out in my own way…slowly and painfully. I am a War Toy after all!’ Alkhema replies. Alkhema remarks that perhaps she has more sense of fun than Ultron does, but that she prefers years of destruction to a few seconds of “BANG”. Ultron tells Alkhema that what she wants is immaterial, as he is her creator, and therefore her master. ‘Why, Ulty - I do believe we’re having our first quarrel!’ Alkhema replies as she blasts Ultron with a beam of energy.

Suddenly, the Avengers West Coast, Dr. Pym, the Vision and Dr. MacLain arrive. ‘Hold your fire, soldiers!’ one of the heroes calls out to the assembled facility soldiers, gathering near the fighting Ultron and Alkhema. Colonel Fletcher, base command, introduces himself and remarks that he recognizes the Avengers, before asking what those “things” are. ‘Living robots - out to blow up this place!’ Hank Pym replies. Colonel Fletcher asks ‘If we can’t stop them - can you?’, to which Hank replies ‘Not the way you mean’. ‘Great’ mumbles the Colonel.

Suddenly, Ultron and Alkhema see the Avengers West Coast. ‘Vision? Hank?’ Asks Mockingbird, looking to them for leadership as they are the two who know most about Ultron. The Vision states that the plan which the three of them discussed en route may be their once chance. Hank asks Dr. MacLain and Colonel Fletcher to come along, while Hawkeye, USAgent, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman and Wonder Man remain to keep Ultron and Alkhema at bay.

As Hank’s group travels down on an elevator, Colonel Fletcher remarks that he knows what they want, and tells them that he will be court-martialled for giving them access to the missile silos. Travelling on some sort of rail-cart to the silos, Fletcher mutters that if their plan fails then they will probably all be dead by then anyway. Soon, they arrive at the massive silo. ‘There it is, Avengers. Be gentle with it, all right’ Fletcher remarks as everyone looks up at the massive weapon before them.

Back above ground, ‘Give it all you’ve got guys!’ Spider-Woman exclaims as she kicks Alkhema hard in the face, while Wonder Man then smashes into her, reminding his teammates to not let Ultron and Alkhema get to the silos. ‘On one thing, Alkhema and I are in total agreement - you meddling Avengers, at least, will die today!’ Ultron boasts. ‘Maybe - and maybe not!’ Walker replies as he whacks Ultron with his trusty shield while the Scarlet Witch stands off to the side, trying to conjure up a hex.

Ultron aims a blast of deadly rays at USAgent, who blocks it with his shield, but cannot get through the barrage. Hawkeye uses this moment to increase his size, ‘You distracted him, Agent…you deserve a big hand for that!’ Clint jokes as he grabs Ultron and picks him up as if he were an action figure, then smashes Ultron into the side of a building. ‘He’s down! Now it’s my turn!’ Walker exclaims, rushing towards Ultron, despite Clint telling him to wait until he shrinks down. ‘Not on your life, buddy!’ Johnny shouts back.

Wonder Man tosses Alkhema over his shoulder and tells her that if she hangs around with the Avengers West for a while she might learn something. ‘Like, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall”!’ Julia suggests. ‘Or maybe like, “In your face”!’ Alkhema retorts as blinding energies burst from her feet, hitting Wonder Man at full-force. Julia calls out to her friend while Alkhema lashes out at him, ‘Don’t waste your breath on this pile of personified ions’ she exclaims, before slapping Spider-Woman to the ground ‘Cause I’ve got enough to go around for your whole pitiful race!’ Alkhema adds.

Clint catches up to Johnny, only to discover that Ultron is hypnotizing him, while remarking that only humans could imagine that one of their species puny minds is a terrible thing to waste. ‘This one, at least, is not being wasted’ Ultron remarks, adding that he is inducing USAgent’s mind with his encephalo-beam to attack one it was already pre-disposed to hate. ‘I’ll kill you, Barton - So help me I’ll KILL you!’ USAgent shouts as he rushes towards Hawkeye.

‘Now, my dear - are you with me, or against me?’ Ultron asks as he turns to Alkhema. ‘Oh, all right. With you!’ War Toy replies. ‘Excellent!’ Ultron replies, before assuring Alkhema that the human race is sufficiently hardy that there will be plenty of slaying left to do, even after any holocaust. Suddenly, the adamantium duo discover an open missile silo - with the Vision lashed to a warhead. ‘Hello, “Father”!’ the Vision exclaims. Alkhema exclaims that it is a trap, to which Ultron replies ‘Obviously’, before boasting that whatever scheme they have devised, it cannot possibly harm the two of them.

‘Almost wired, guys!’ Mockingbird announces down below where she is working on the warhead. ‘Not good enough! We’re out of time!’ Fletcher shouts. MacLain asks if they can risk it, to which Hank replies that they have no choice. Suddenly, while the missile rises, Ultron and Alkhema are magnetically drawn to it. Ultron explains that the Vision’s body has been turned into an electro-magnet which attracts adamantium. ‘But the magnet will fail - once we have demolished the Vision!’ Ultron boasts.

Down below, ‘Everybody out!’ Hank calls. ‘You talk me into it’ mutters Fletcher sarcastically, while Dr. MacLain exclaims ‘Hurry, Ms. Mockingbird!’ Fletcher quickly seals the hatch, ‘Ignition!’ With that, the large missile rises into the air, with the Vision still strapped to it, and therefore Ultron and Alkhema to him.

Back outside, Johnny rubs his head and asks what came over him. ‘This was no time for another grudge match!’ he mutters, to which Hawkeye assures him that it was not his fault for once, explaining that Ultron hypnotized him, but that the missile launching, which has everyone’s attention, snapped him out of it. ‘Good lord - if that thing’s nuclear warhead blows inside Earth’s atmosphere…’ Clint’s voice trails off, when soon, high above Earth, the missile explodes.

Spider-Woman points out that the explosion wasn’t blinding enough to have been atomic, ‘But the Vision!’ a tired Scarlet Witch exclaims. Suddenly, ‘I am here’ the Vision announces as he floats down beside his former teammates. The Vision explains that, unlike the robots, he could become intangible and let the missile pass through him on it’s way skyward, though adding that the conventional warhead will not destroy their adamantium bodies. Mockingbird embraces Hawkeye, who asks ‘What could?’, adding that with a little luck, the warhead launched them on a trip into space which will take ages to get back from. ‘All that - and us back together, too!’ Clint exclaims, adding that this calls for a celebration.

As everyone heads towards the facility, a distant Wanda lags behind, and Wonder Man watches her, ‘Does it?’ he wonders, referring to Clint’s celebration remark. Simon wonders why Wanda is acting like a woman who has finally accepted in her own heart that her marriage is truly dead and buried. ‘And I can’t even comfort her like I want to - because I can no longer trick myself into believe that I’m any more human than the Vision!’…

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

Ultimate Ultron
Alkhema / War-Toy

Dr. Myron Malian
Colonel Fletcher
Soldiers and Pilots

Story Notes: 

Mockingbird was captured in Avengers West Coast #90 and her brain patterns and likeness used to create Alkhema. This is the second time Ultron has attempted to create a bride, the first being Jocasta in Avengers (1st series) #162.

The Scarlet Witch’s powers have been fluctuating over the last several issues. The cause of this is explored in the Darkhold #1-7.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird married in the first Hawkeye limited series, and for some time had a model relationship. When Mockingbird allowed the Phantom Rider, who had raped her, fall to his death, [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #18-23] this drove a major wedge between her and Clint when he eventually found out, and even split the West Coast Avengers into two separate teams for a short while. [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #37-41]. Mockingbird and Hawkeye were reunited when they took over leadership of the great Lakes Avengers [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #46], and have been off-and-on since then, with Hawkeye rejoining the Avengers West and Mockingbird aiding them on occasion before rejoining fully, and the two reconciling, despite the possible relationship between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman II forming. Of course, their reconciliation will be short lived with the tragic Avengers West Coast #100, where Mockingbird is slain by Mephisto.

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.

Wonder Man’s thoughts about being as inhuman as the Vision at that time is a reference to events taking place in his own solo series running parallel to these issues.

Ultron and Alkhema return in the Avengers West Coast Annual #8.

Written By: