Age of Ultron has been one roller coaster of a comic…and it’d still be rolling down the street if this “event” were on DVD.
For the past couple issues, Marvel’s version of the “Big Bad Wolf” (see: Busch Gardens) has been stopped or rerouted more times than anyone would like to mention. Hank Pym’s pride-and-joy turned intergalactic threat — Ultron — never gets a chance to live up to his endless hype. Yet, despite an array of head-scratching moments and brainfarts, Brian Michael Bendis‘ “anything goes” highlights still persisted with a story of promise.
But promises are promises. And when it comes to events, Marvel has been failing on those promises. The first and final issue of these “events” are typically the most memorable, with a whole lot o’ garbage thrown in between to reap in the generosity of converted consumers. A “Wolverine vs. Wolverine” issue? Sounds great. Wasn’t bad. But did it really depict meaning to the overall arc? What did this time travel “clone war” per se, ultimately have to do with one of the Avengers’ greatest fears? Obviously, a lot more questions were raised with the Age of Ultron than answers provided.
But, this Apostle shouldn’t be surprised when other such recent events — Doom War, Chaos War, and AvX — had already dictated the obvious.
Silly Marvel fan.
Hell, Age of Ultron is the series I really, really wanted to like. And I applaud Marvel for sort of going Elseworlds — outside the 616 continuity box — to convey a tale so mightily epic, despite the confrontation between Earth and Ultron having become so blatantly inevitable. Bendis has been dropping hints of this battle throughout the course of his lengthy Avengers run. The writer has even used panels from the original issue of Avengers #12.1 during the super-group’s final confrontation with the adamantium-laced artificial intelligence.
One bright mark, however, was tying up this whole thing with Bendis’ exceptionally-underrated run on Moon Knight.
Look. Final issue are your usual final hurrah. You have a giant confrontation. And by the end, questions are answered and fans are left with a happy ending or, at least, a promised future of what’s to come. At least Age of Ultron #10 got one of those right.
What it certainly did not get right was: Ultron himself. The psychotic robot was hardly there! You go and name a story after one of Marvel’s most revered villains and there’s more timeline bickering with the Fantastic Four than anything remotely close to an Ultron story. Iron Man and Morgana fought for two issues — and for what-the-hell again? Call it, “Age of Alternate Timelines.”
Even if the event had more holes than Pastor Moody’s pocketbook — or pocket-protector (I’m trying to be nice over here) — you’d at least expect a delightfully epic, final confrontation between Pym and his metallic boy. Nope. No can do, Spider-Man. After all of these promises that “nothing would ever be the same again,” I’d have to finally agree that the statement may finally be true…
…cause it’s going to be tough for The Apostle to get anxious for any Marvel event from this point forward.
Bendis handled the storytelling over the course of the series, and numerous artists applied there hand to the issues. With such a conglomerate of accomplished artists, you would think this would be a boon for the series. Unfortunately, the dark and gritty approach of Alex Maleev’s sketches, coupled with the clean and minimalistic feel of Bryan Hitch and Paul Nearly, is an uneven transition at best. This example spills all over the final issue the most, since all of the artists contributed — and were highly misused.
The end of issue 10 could of been.. the best part of the whole series, which isn’t saying too much but, still, Bendis — with his scab-lengthy epilogue — merely sets up the consequences of one too many time-jumps and the return of an otherwise unexpected Neil Gaiman character from the late 90s.
The anticlimax becomes a Previews fest. Age of Ultron‘s last few pages consist of forthcoming spin-offs that will only culminate into another worthless crossover in 6 months. I’m good with a Marvel version of Flashpoint, really.
With Wolverine destroying the timestream, it appears that multiverse conflict is on its way. Hunger, Avengers A.I. and Guardians of the Galaxy look to the future to instill a 616 meets Ultimate Universe meets the Silver Age. And, with this “cash cowing” direction, Marvel mind as well use the opportunity to capitilize on the canon success of present and prevous Bendis works, Spider-Men and All-New X-Men.
It’s just a shame that a promising event had to suffer all the more for it.