Arguably the greatest and certainly the most horrific creation of scientific genius Dr. Henry Pym, Ultron is a criminally insane rogue sentient robot dedicated to conquest and the extermination of humanity. Years ago, inspired by his studies of Professor Gregson Gilbert’s synthetic Dragon Man, Pym began experimenting with artificial intelligence. Building a structurally crude robot (a torso on tank treads with spindly arms), Pym endowed it with consciousness, using a copy of his own brain patterns as the basis for the robot’s programming; however, the robot inherited not only Pym’s great intellect, but also Pym’s inherent mental instability, only without a human conscience. To Pym’s surprise, the robot developed an advanced intellect within moments of its activation, and an unexpected capacity for emotion; most notably, it was filled with irrational hatred for its “father” Pym and the human race Pym represented. Overpowering and mesmerizing Pym, the robot-which soon dubbed itself Ultron-hypnotically commanded Pym to forget its existence and abandon the New Jersey lab where it was created. Pym did as commanded, and after the lab was closed up, Ultron returned. Using the lab’s equipment, Ultron rebuilt himself completely four times, making improvements and modifications each time. Rechristening himself Ultron-5, he now felt ready to make war on humanity-and in particular the Avengers, the heroic super-team which counted Pym among its founding members.
Acting indirectly at first, Ultron encountered fellow Avengers enemy Eric Williams (the Grim Reaper) and supplied him with the coma-ray technology the Reaper would later use against the Avengers. Later, adopting the super-criminal guise of the Crimson Cowl to conceal his robotic nature, Ultron recruited Avengers foes Klaw, Melter, Radioactive Man and Whirlwind and formed a new Masters of Evil group to destroy the Avengers. Avengers butler Jarvis, secretly mesmerized into serving Ultron, supplied the Masters with plans of the Avengers Mansion security system and even posed as an alternate Crimson Cowl (supposedly the real one) to help conceal Ultron’s true identity. In the end, the Avengers defeated the Masters with the aid of the Black Knight (Dane Whitman), who had infiltrated Ultron’s Masters-and Ultron was exposed as the true Cowl, though he escaped.
Following Pym’s example as a creator, Ultron sought to create an artificial being of his own. Acquiring the inert form of the android Human Torch from the Mad Thinker, Ultron radically modified its appearance and abilities and programmed it with a personality based on the recorded brain patterns of the Grim Reaper’s seemingly deceased brother, Simon Williams. This android, later dubbed the Vision by the Wasp, attacked the Avengers on Ultron’s behalf, but the Vision had the human conscience Ultron lacked and he turned on his creator, destroying Ultron and joining the Avengers. In the process, Pym regained his memories of creating Ultron, which became a source of tremendous guilt and anguish for him over the years, and a major factor in Pym’s subsequent mental problems. While Pym’s creation of Ultron became common knowledge, it was years before an ashamed Pym could admit that Ultron’s mind was based on his own brain patterns.