Close observers of Marvel Comics know they like to have a healthy selection of comic books and graphic novels in book stores and comic book shops related to major films when they open. The publisher has previously announced the original graphic novel Avengers: Rage of Ultron and Wednesday morning the publisher announced Ultron Forever, a trio of 30-page specials scheduled to go on sale in April and May 2015, just before Avengers: Age of Ultron opens the first weekend in May.
The specials aim to “introduce casual readers to the robot baddie in addition to appealing to devoted fans’ nostalgia.”
As revealed to the LA Times, the story jumps off from Jonathan Hickman’s Original Sin tie-in story in Avengers #31 that depicted a future in which Thor referred to Ultron as the “All Father.”
“It was a happy accident that Jonathan had just set that world of the future up, that Ultron-dominated world, because when we were thinking about this, it was sort of low-hanging fruit,” editor Tom Brevoort told the LA Times. “From what little we’ve already seen, that’s a world in which there are no heroes, so the idea that in order to face the threat of Ultron, you’d have to cast into the past and pull the great heroes of history gave us immediately a setup that fit for the kind of story we were trying to do.”
Each special - Avengers: Ultron Forever, New Avengers Ultron Forever, and Uncanny Avengers: Ultron Forever - will be written by Al Ewing and drawn by Alan Davis.
Taking its cue from Kurt Busiek-Roger Stern-Carlos Pacheco 1998-99 Avengers Forever limited series, the storyline introduces a team of Avengers plucked from various points in the team’s history, to battle an Ultron that has defeated humanity in a dystopian future 50 years from now.
The team will be made of the contemporary versions of Black Widow, the Vision, and the new female Thor, along James “Rhodey” Rhodes as Iron Man (not yet War Machine), a pre-Avengers Stan Lee version of the Hulk ("with three toes and a penchant for calling people 'palookas,'"), the original Thor circa the Walt Simonson era, and “a never-before-seen future Captain America" — Danielle Cage, the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones — and at least one other incarnation of Thor, all gathered via use of Doctor Doom’s time machine.
"There are in the story reasons why they’ve been taken from the particular times and places they have been," explained Ewing, who added that in this story, "Ultron is more than a little mad."
“He’s achieved all his goals, and he’s kind of become this godlike figure,” the writer revealed. “It’s almost like humanity is just this resource for him now, but at the same time, he’s enjoying lording it over them.… He’s enjoying pulling the wings off the fly, so to speak, and really taking his time over his final victory.”
Explaining some of his character choices, Ewing said he choose Rhodey Iron Man because that was his original Iron Man.
“Growing up, I didn’t particularly care who Tony Stark was — it was Jim Rhodes, this guy who was with the rest of the superheroes on this little alien planet fighting each other,” Ewing said. “So yeah, I do kind of want to have him back in the red and yellow, because it’s a nice nostalgic thing for me, and it’ll be good for a bunch of readers who remember that whole era.”
He also chose the Thor he grew up with: “I won’t spoil exactly which one, but it’s kind of important the particular time during the Walt Simonson run he’s been taken from.”
As to Danielle Cage - currently an infant in the contemporary Marvel Universe: “She’s very strong, and she’s as bulletproof as her mom and dad were,” Ewing said. “She has the Captain America shield with an anti-gravity unit in it, which she can sort of control with a unit on her glove. I’m going back to the days of the ‘60s where, for about five minutes, Captain America worked his shield with magnets. She’s not throwing the shield so much as flying it out, and then it ricochets off of people and comes back to her. It’s pretty cool.”
Dani possesses knowledge of the Avengers’ futures and offers clues to their fates throughout the story, for example referring to the Black Widow as "Madame Natasha," hinting that in the future the Widow is a "sort of old-school Nick Fury figure, directing the future Avengers."
Brevoort said Dani could stick around in comics if she is well-received.
“Whether or not that infant will grow up to be that character in the course of our stories is part of the ongoing soap opera that we tell,” Brevoort said. “What tends to happen is we’ll do a story like this, and if the character clicks with people, we tend to do more of them.… She’s a good character, and if she bounces off the page in the way that we hope she will, then we’ll be able to do more.”