…Ultron’s origin?

Ultron's origin

There are a number of theories floating about on Hank Pym’s behavioural problems. Those problems are observed as far back as Avengers #13. At the start of the issue Janet Van Dyne was particularly bright and perky, but by the end she almost died. Avengers #14 featured the team hunting for a cure for her injury, with Hank on the edge of insanity. A few issues thereafter Hank and Jan quit the team.

While the events of Avengers #14 were used as evidence for Hank’s mental instability, since Giant-Man was in turns despairing, petulant, and angry, some fans suggested Jan was pregnant at the time of her injury and lost the child as a consequence of the shoot­ing.

Further speculation holds that this may have led to Hank’s mental problems and feelings of inadequacy.

The event fits well with the mysterious creation of Ultron as a surrogate child.

So this makes a great explanation for Ultron and Hank’s mental state, but problems need ironing out for this possibility to work.

This idea that Hank and Jan’s unborn child had his brain wave patterns impressed on Ultron’s programming is possible. So, say Hank had that unborn infant’s patterns around, and in a fit of despair, used them for the mind of his robotic “child.” Ultron, on becoming conscious, would have processed environmental stimuli, and using super-fast processing time, all the data in Hank’s computers, faster than a normal biological infant.

It explains why Ultron hates his father and loves his mother. If Hank dictates a personal log into his computers, Ultron would know Hank blames himself for the Wasp’s injury and the loss of the baby. Ultron could believe his own father “murdered” him, while hurting his mother.

We’ve frequently seen that one panel showing the Wasp in an overall bodysuit, in the middle of one of Hanks’ gadgets, as he modifies her metabolism to give her “Wasp” powers. (This always struck me as odd, because Hank never gave himself or anyone else “natural,” biological superpowers; he uses serums and potions and mechanisms.)

It’s safe to assume that process of “empowering” the Wasp happened quite often, and it was accompanied each time by a full physical done by Hank, aided by scanners of Hank’s invention more sophisticated than you’d find in a doctor’s office.

Hank would want to know what was going on in Jan’s body down to the very last DNA strand before he played around with giving her insect super powers, or even “charged her up” each time.

Obviously, then, Hank gives Jan a super power treatment after he knocks her up, then his scans show she’s pregnant. He would know it quickly.

Here’s where the guilt that turned Hank eventually self-destructive comes in: He didn’t tell her.

Why? Because Hank’s a schmuck. He wasn’t sure it was his, and he couldn’t tell her that, either. So does Schmuck Hank with No Self Esteem propose? Noooooo.

He tries to determine the baby’s paternity. And does Hank create the world’s first DNA tests back in 1963? No, he uses brainwaves.

Which is why he took the opportunity to grab a dying man’s brainwaves, so he could study them. Eventually, he found a way to study his own brainwave patterns and Jan’s, by comparing them to Wonder Man’s as a necessary, unrelated third pattern. He recorded the fetus’ brainwave patterns, and established that, indeed, it was his and Jan’s child.

And before he could tell anyone about it, Jan got injured and lost the baby.

Imagine the torment. Because he doubted the fidelity of the woman he loves, and because, well, he’s a jerk, there’s no denying it, he withheld crucial information. Had Jan known she was carrying Hank’s child, she would have put herself on inactive status, the baby would have been born, she and Hank would have married for positive, healthy reasons instead of that sick Yellowjacket situation, and Hank would have never turned into the neurotic mess we all knew and loved, and they would have a biological child by now.

He can never, never, never admit to this. He may be so far in denial (and had so many psychotic breaks) that he no longer remembers it. It was a huge step to admit that he used his own brainwave patterns for Ultron’s mind, but even that’s not the truth. The truth is much darker. Ultron is Jan and Hank’s child, twisted and sociopathic. If Hank knows that, he will never let Jan know it. Most likely, however, he doesn’t know it.

Ultron must know it, and that’s why he taunts his father by calling him “dad.”But Ultron also will never admit to it, because Ultron doesn’t want to admit he has any ties to real humanity. For Ultron to ever admit that he is Jan and Hank’s unborn son, transplanted into robotic form, would be enormously humiliating. He’d have to be forced to do it, and there’s no way to put that kind of pressure on Ultron, since he can’t be permanently killed.

So neither he nor Hank will ever admit to this dark secret, that they really are father and son, and Jan really has a child with Hank, one who wants to kill every last human being on the face of the planet, as well as every other form of biological life.

This post first appeared as my contribution to Assembled!2: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Villains, appearing in Part 2 of that volume as Ultron as Pym’s True Son.


You’ll adduce from the above my dislike for Hank’s later psychotic break and spousal abuse of Janet.

I  can’t see why no one up until now has attempted to reveal it as just another scheme of Ultron’s, akin to his mentally controlling the butler Jarvis when in the guise of the “Crimson Cowl” (Roy really did do the definitive Hank didn’t he)?

Shooter himself even had Pym brainwashed to kidnap the Wasp so she could be converted to a metal mate for Ultron in 161.

Christ, Justin Hammer had his scientists working over a long period of time to figure out a way to control Iron Man’s armour remotely so what is so hard to believe about a robot with an Oedipus Complex scheming to make its “father” fall out of favour with its “mother” so it can step in and become the “surrogate” husband?

This to me would seem to be the best, and simplest, way to redeem Hank and it gels with previous continuity.  Just reveal it and then move forward.

14 Responses

  1. […] Gerber Omega-Guardians of the Galaxy-Wundarr article was very tightly reasoned, and so was the Hank Pym-Ultron […]

  2. This is truly genius.

    Normally, I’m quite verbose in my comments, but what can I say to this?
    It’s damned perfect as is.

    Most excellent, Sir.


  3. @Greg: Hey thanks so much for your plugging me on CBR. It’s resulted in the highest traffic on my blog on any given day which is just fantastic:)

    And your comments were really kind too.

    @~P~: I don’t think you’re that verbose (have you seen all my posts;)

    Your comments really mean a lot thanks. You can also find it in Assembled!2 as well:)

  4. this is the first i heard about jan losing the baby theory for the way i always understood Hank created Ultron to try and get back in the good graces of the avengers again and play hero. but since he used his own brain patterns and was pycho at the time he turned out Ultron . Ultron became the evil mechanical bastard he is to this day though losing the baby could also work for Ultron loving Jan and hating his father Hank.since hank by creating Ultron is his creator aka father.

  5. @demoncat4: I’ll be revisiting Hank somewhere down the track, as I just can’t resist another idea that Ultron was based on the engrams of the insects.

    Yes, you read that right:0 And the implications behind this theory will also endeavour to come up with a fix for why Hank’s first wife and Janet are physically identical.

    Stay tuned for more later.

  6. That would be a dandy story for writing, though, wouldn’t it? Hank finds out Jan’s pregnant and doesn’t tell her, my goodness. She never even knows she lost a baby, perhaps.


    Now that’s some pretty heavy material for a superhero tale.

    (As you can tell, Nate, I’m getting a bit back in the swing of things…)

  7. @ plok: While certainly a dandy story, did you see my comment directly above yours?

    I think that one suggests even more heavy material for a superhero tale:)

  8. I did, I did see it…

  9. An… interesting article. But why is it you want to “redeem” Hank when “he’s a jerk”? Why bother trying to understand a character that’s a such a “schmuck”? Clearly, you feel very strongly about Mister Pym – tho it seems like a waste of your valuable time to bother with such a flawed character when you could be coming up with more theories about Magneto raping his daughter…

  10. The “schmucky” actions that everyone now remembers Hank for were not in character but rather an attempt to create “shock value” at the expense of what came before.

    So yes, I do believe Hank is worth redeeming, and better men than I have also thought so if you go back and read Stainless Steve Englehart’s efforts in West Coast Avengers.

  11. I read your post which was VERY good!! In fact, it has reminded me of a number of things I have thought of many times which I’m hoping commenters out there might have answers for:
    1) As per Vol 1 Avengers 161-162, was Hank’s regression to his Ant-Man persona and memories caused by Ultron? Only by Ultron? Or was this a prelude to his monumental breakdown as shown in Vol 1 Avengers #212-213?

    I say this because a few issues prior he converses with Wasp about increasing his powers as they fly away. We, as readers, were not shown any behind-the-scenes tampering by Ultron nor anyone else.

    2) Only 2 issues and approximately a few weeks later, in Avengers 164, Vol 1, Hank is back to his “old” personality and again in his current alias of Yellowjacket! He is examining Wonder Man with the other Avenger scientists.

    There is no mention of what just happened with Hank, and Hank seems as if the events in A 161-162 had never happened. Not only is he his “old” self, in the guise of Yellowjacket, but his Yellowjacket powers are indeed increased and he is able to focus quite intently and with great accuracy on the details of Wonder Man’s powers, transformation and rebirth.

    How did Hank regain his personality/mentality? And in so quick a time? When did he improve his powers? And all of these things within the span of 162-164? Especially since Hank was raving (mad) at the Avengers and Jan in particular and needed to be restrained by Iron Man/the Black Panther at the end of 162.

  12. Another ingenious theory. It really does work but for my personal tastes it’s not something I would use.

    I think it’s important that Ultron’s nature be grounded in science fiction rather than soap opera. Ultron is supposed to be the first real artificial intelligence that achieves self awareness and it’s the existential issues surrounding his attempts to understand his own nature in that context that should be the foundation of his relationship with hank and also with Jan.

    Also, I don’t think that brushing the spousal abuse issue under the carpet in the way you suggest is a viable option. Others have tried to airbrush those events out (Mr Engelehart for one) and its always rung hollow. Its an adult issue and needs to be treated as such. Unfortunately many comics readers are seemingly incapable of treating it in an adult or nuanced fashion and have a knee jerk reaction. Wife beating (and indeed husband beating) is something that happens in real life. It is horrible but it doesn’t necessarily mean the people involved are outright monsters -its an ugly part of human nature. Perpetrating domestic violence is something that ‘good’ people can fall prey to. It’s undoubtedly something that will always tarnish Hank’s character but shouldn’t make it impossible for him to be a hero (although it does seem to have made it impossible for him to be Ant man on the big screen). The problem is with the audience not with the story. Furthermore I’d contend that Shooter began Hank’s redemption and that Avengers 217 is quite possibly his finest hour.

    Incidentally, regarding the start of Hank’s mental problems I’d argue that in hindsight the fact that he married a girl who was the spitting image of his first wife does not suggest a very stable personality. In that sense his problems would seem to predate Avengers 13-14.

    • For years I have proposed that before Hank was pushed by Tony Stark to record the engrams of humans (his first being Simon Williams), he recorded those of his ant allies (so he could retain their heroic personalities in the event of their being killed in battle and at some point in the future restore them) which then got downloaded into his first built robot and evolved at rapid speed due to being backed by the processing speed of a computer. It then goes on to escape his lab and create a new body for itself which has an insect-like skull/ head.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: