Brian Michael Bendis fulfils the storyline he set out in 2009’s The Avengers, where readers caught a glimpse of a futuristic Ultron who had taken over Earth, in this year’s Marvel Event – the Age of Ultron!
Age of Ultron #1 opens where most events end – Ultron, it seems, has already won! The Avengers are defeated and in hiding, Cap appears so desolate he is unable to even lift his head. New York City is overshadowed by a sprawling mechanical mass that resembles either a giant robot mothership or a kind of robot thunderdome built atop the remains of what used to be NYC. A wrecked Air Force One lies in pieces on the street as the few remaining humans exploit one another for survival.
Inside a derelict building are some goons with guns dealing mutant growth hormone (MGH) pills while in the shadows outside, a purple figure emerges… Somewhere within the building is a defeated and unmasked Spider-Man, somehow so weak and vulnerable he is tied to a chair and unable to escape by himself. Hawkeye to the rescue!
Bendis has written an intriguing opening issue with the reader kept guessing as to how things got so desperate. The comic is nicely set-up with Bryan Hitch’s large two opening splash pages giving us a destroyed NYC while we also get some good action in Hawkeye’s rescue of Spidey.
Which isn’t to say that it’s not a quibble-free comic. When Ultron’s enforcers show up, the MGH dealers mention “paying Ultron off” to stop his robotic goons from destroying their base of operations. Which makes me wonder – has Ultron changed so much in this version that he cares about money all of a sudden? Seriously, this guy rules NYC – maybe even the world – and can have whatever he wants, so why does he want money like some stereotypical mob boss?
And despite the Avengers appearing down and out, this isn’t the first time readers of Marvel’s Event books will have seen this. Hell, just last year we saw the Avengers go to ground as the Phoenix 5 hunted for them in “Avengers Vs X-Men” – and they always come through. So, while it’s a somewhat necessary setup to have the heroes on the ropes, here’s hoping Bendis does something a bit different this time than simply throw different heroes at Ultron to fight until one of them finally beats him.
But I’m glad to see just one writer on this event book – Bendis – rather than a melange of writers. “AVX” was a mess partly due to the abundance of writers on the title – Aaron, Bendis, Hickman, Fraction, Gillen – it was too many. With a single writer throughout the story might read more fluidly and feel tonally consistent.
For new readers, or old readers needing a refresher, Marvel’s pioneering and innovative tech, Marvel AR (Augmented Reality), is here to help. Download the app, open it up, hold your device’s camera over the page with the AR symbol in the corner and you’re treated to a video – think of them as DVD extras. In this issue you get a couple of introductions to Ultron to bring you up to speed, the first being Ultron basically introducing his own Event which was quite funny. The other ARs in the comic are brief interviews with Bendis and Hitch describing the concepts behind this Marvel Event and a short video showing Hitch constructing a scene from pencils to inks to colours.
I’m very impressed with how well the AR content works. It really is as simple as I’ve described above and works especially well as the number of pages in a single comic comes to 20 or so pages which might leave some readers with questions over certain characters or aspects of the story that aren’t addressed in the comic. No longer will the familiar complaint of a new series – “hey, they didn’t bother to introduce the character(s) properly!” – be heard with AR. Here’s a video explaining why, now back to the comic. Really great idea – DC take note, the New 52 could’ve really used something like this!
This is also going to be a big but fast event – starting this week, the event is going to wrap up in June. On top of the 10 Age of Ultron issues, there are going to be tie-ins from Marvel’s biggest series from Superior Spider-Man to Avengers Assemble to Wolverine & the X-Men (full schedule below). The speed of publication is a refreshing change from events that have felt stale as they’ve been stretched across months and months – hopefully the story will be as energetic as Marvel’s publishing schedule!
Age of Ultron #1 is a solid opening issue for this new Marvel Event. It’s got an interesting premise, a classic villain, great art, and enough going on in this first issue to keep you entertained. A promising start, it’s well worth a look for superhero fans everywhere.
Age of Ultron #1
Age of Ultron #2
Fantastic Four #5AU
Age of Ultron #3
Superior Spider-Man #6AU
Age of Ultron #4
Avengers Assemble #14AU
Age of Ultron #5
Age of Ultron #6
Wolverine & the X-Men #27AU
Age of Ultron #7
Avengers Assemble #15AU
Age of Ultron #8
Uncanny Avengers #8AU
Fearless Defenders #4AU
Age of Ultron #9
Age of Ultron #10
Age of Ultron Epilogue
Age of Ultron #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch is out now.
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