COMICS REVIEW: Age of Ultron


It was Marvel’s big event of the last year but how good was it?

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Waid
Pencillers: Bryan Hitch, Carlos Pacheco, Brandon Peterson, Alex Maleev, Butch Guice, Joe Quesada, Roger Bonet, Tom Palmer, David Marquez
Inkers: Paul Neary, Roger Martinez
Colourist: Paul Mounts, Jose Villarubia, Richard Isanove, Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Cory Petit, Clayton Cowles

Collects: Age of Ultron #1-10 & Age of Ultron 10AI

Marvel have done well of late having their major events spinning out of one another. Civil War begat Secret Invasion which led to Dark Reign, Age of Heroes, Fear Itself etc. Age of Ultron is therefore an unusual beast as it doesn’t really build on anything that’s been happening in recent times that I can think of.

In a dystopian “now”, although one you wouldn’t recognise from any Marvel Now book, the rogue artificial intelligence/robot Ultron has defeated the heroes of Earth and imposes his harsh rule through hordes of robot duplicates. What heroes remain have hidden themselves and lost their way. That is, except for Hawkeye who rails against this approach of non-interference by rescuing Spider-Man. Shaken out of their malaise the heroes form a plan to take on Ultron using time travel and then the heart of the event is afoot. I won’t go into any more detail other that to say that the two tropes of “let’s kill Hitler” and the butterfly effect get a thorough airing.

Unusually there’s no consistent art team throughout the 11 issues collected here. Bryan Hitch seems to carry most of the duties but there are at least two other pencillers contributing. This means the series lacks a cohesive look,  which for me detracted from the story. Hitch is good, although not at the heights he reached when destroying the world in The Authority, or destroying the world in The Ultimates…the problem is I’ve seen it all before. When Hitch and Millar created what became known as widescreen comics it was something we’d never seen, the energy of Kirby but with a realism unlike any Kirby panel. Now though, it’s old hat and to pull off an event with this at its centre means you have to have a great story.

And this isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun set of “what if” type scenarios and seeing how even a B-list character is woven throughout Marvel’s history is entertaining. But there are 11 issues of content and about 6 issues of  story…none of which haven’t been done elsewhere.

The purpose of the event, to punch the walls of Marvel’s multiverse a little, is served well enough but smacks too much of DC’s Flashpoint. The allegedly significant reveal of a new character at the end of the series is vastly  underwhelming, I’m sure that this character is a big deal for someone but not for anyone I’ve spoken to. I haven’t read any of the spin-off comics and it’s possible they add to the story with their tales of this alternate universe.

There are some nice character moments, and the first issue with Hawkeye being properly bad-ass is a real high point for me. I’ve not been the biggest fan of the character so seeing him cutting lose as well as providing the impetus for the heroes getting back in the game was great. He shows real Avengers spirit and it’s a shame that after only a couple of issues the focus shifts to Wolverine, who isn’t exactly short of air-time in the Marvel U.

As ever for a Panini collection of Marvel comics it’s well priced at £16.99 RRP for 11 issues and contains thumbnails of the umpteen variant covers. The inclusion of Marvel’s augmented reality icons means you can view extra bits of content through the Marvel AR app, such as sketches and interviews.

Rating: 2/5
GS Reviewer: Dave W

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