The Ultimate Foe: Ultimo

Ultimo first appeared as the blue-skinned, android slave of the Mandarin (in TOS #76), a metal being in a loin cloth, given life in the seething, surging heart of a volcano. Ready to smash anything in his way, or blast it with his lethal eye rays, he seemed like the Mandarin's perfect weapon--but that's only what Mandy would have us believe.

In truth, Ultimo is thousands of years old, the ultimate doomsday device built by a long-dead race he refers to as the masters. Known as the Devastor, or He-Who-Destroys, to the people of the planet Rajak he was death. If any of them knew why he attacked, that knowledge died with them. Pursued through space by the villain Sapper, he fell to Earth after a brief battle. Landing in China, he shut down, only to be reactivated and reprogrammed by the Mandarin (some time prior to TOS #76).

A weapon of incredible design genius, Ultimo is capable of growth--in both size and strength. Besides brute force, Ultimo posses photonic eye beams A.K.A. disintegrator beams. (He travelled through space via foot rockets, presumably removed by Mandarin.) Even in early appearances Ultimo could crack Shellhead's armor, squeezing it in his hands. And he shrugs off repulsor blasts to this day.

Under the direction of the Mandarin this creature served completely, obeying without thinking, destroying whatever the master wished with his unbelievable power. He was guided by two simple principles: (1) that which moves, dies, and (2) that which opposes him, dies first.

In his first encounters, Iron Man found Ultimo's artificial brain to be quite simplistic, reacting like an angry child, lashing out. In one tantrum, Ultimo brought a mountain down on himself.

In IRON MAN #96, he was trapped in a subterranean volcano under Washington, D.C., by Iron Man, which ironically turned out to be a good thing for the metal monster.

During his slumber Ultimo's thermal convertors transformed the fearsome heat of the magma beneath the Earth's crust into energy and he grew. After coming to rest on a tectonic plate, Ultimo drifted beneath North America, emerging in California in #298, his blue coating apparently burned off. Fully recharged for the first time in 5,000 years, he was freed from the thin layer of programming imposed on him by the Mandarin and returned to all he seemed to know: destruction. ('Course he might've just been pissed about losing his trusty loin cloth.)

Larger and more powerful, Iron Man's repulsors now had no effect on him. His disintegrator beams could now melt Shellhead's armor--the NTU-150 (Tony's remote-control armor)--which Ultimo ultimately destroyed, causing Tony so much neural feedback that the overloard put him into a coma. Beyond emmence strength, the giant now seemed capable of limited, basic emotions. He took satisfaction in IM's death; got outraged and angry still later. But his primitive mind had no attention span for things out of the range of his sight.

So powerful, it took 7 Iron men--Tony and the Iron Legion--to put him on his back in Iron Man's big 300th issue. After a fearsome battle, the real Iron Man punchured Ultimo's gut area with an adamantium-tipped probe. The giant automaton was then dropped by a lightning-enduced electromagnetic field of several hundred million volts. The shock purged his command processors, wiping out his operating system. And since Ultimo was nothing more than the sum of his programming, that was it for him... Tony had the monster placed into storage where he couldn't harm anyone.

But Ultimo didn't stay down for long. In IRON MAN #23 (Volume III), unbeknownst to Tony, Stark-Fujikawa took the behemoth out of storage, having decided to use the robot's incredible insides as a power generator. Using the data Tony had collected on the creature (file TS5.66), they controlled Ultimo, turning on his power circuits, but not his consciousness--or so they thought. While in this light sleep, Ultimo continued to grow, reaching over 100 feet tall. His circuitry also evolved, as did his defenses. As you can probably guess, Ultimo awoke, and then went on a rampage across Washington state.

Much stronger, the reinvigorated Ultimo was deadlier than ever, apparently resuming his original programming to destroy everything. He withstood cruise missiles to the face without blinking, and absorbed 100 megavolts--a lightning strike channeled through an E-M Field Targeter placed on him by Iron Man (trying a rerun). With his new height, Ultimo's strides allowed him to move nearly 100 m.p.h. And while Iron Man's pulse bolts had some effect, they weren't going to stop the rampaging giant. To finally stop him, Shellhead welded a System Tap to Ultimo's back, out of his reach. Then Iron Man linked to it via his cybernetics and wormed into the Central Program and turned Ultimo off.

Current status: To ensure that he doesn't wake up, Ultimo was disassembled in IRON MAN Volume III, issue #25.

Notable appearances: TALES OF SUSPENSE #77; IRON MAN #'s 70, 95-95, 298-300; IRON MAN Vol. III #'s 23-25.

Hobbies:Smashing, disintegrating, more smashing.

This page is copyrighted 2004 by Tim Rassbach.

Iron Man and all associated characters are the property of Marvel Comics.

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