After months of confusing bait ‘n’ switches, time travel anachronisms, and numerous (and it turns out, pointless) superhero deaths, we come to the finale of Marvel’s latest Event with Age of Ultron #10.
Before getting into the issue proper, I’ll say that the way Marvel have hit all of their deadlines on the numerous comics this Event has had in the tight timeframe they gave it, is impressive. Marvel waited until all of the issues had been drawn before they began releasing them and I think all future Events should be done like this – 4 months, knock ‘em out, get it done, no more year-long story arcs or prolonged releases because of missed deadlines. This is the winning formula – publishing-wise that is.
Marvel touts Age of Ultron #10 as so packed with surprises that they published all of the comics in individual black plastic wraparound covers so no-one could casually pick it up off the shelf for a flick through to the end. So was it surprising? Not really – the big surprise of Angela, Neil Gaiman’s heavenly bounty hunter character, being introduced into the Marvel Universe had been leaked months previous. The rest of the issue was, while not as boring and stupid as the last 3 issues have been, at least a fair conclusion to a very sketchy Event.
The story so far: from the future, Ultron sent an army of Ultron drones to the past to defeat Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and become overlord of Earth. The remaining survivors went to the Savage Land to recuperate and formulate a plan of attack against Ultron, discovering one of Doctor Doom’s Time Platforms which Nick Fury had confiscated and kept for emergencies. A team of Avengers head into the future to meet Ultron head-on in an ill-advised attack where they end up dying. Back in the present, Wolverine comes up with the far smarter plan – and remember this is Wolverine, not exactly known as a brain box – of going back into the past, killing Ultron’s creator Hank Pym and therefore eliminating their hellish present. Sue Richards tags along because why not?
The time travel switcheroo doesn’t work and the present Logan and Sue return to is similarly nightmarish except instead of Ultron, Tony Stark is the semi-robotic overlord. After a massive battle between Stark and Morgana Le Fey, science vs. magic (magic wins), Logan realises he has to go back in time again and stop his past self from killing Hank Pym. Though they let him live to create Ultron, the two Wolverines manage to convince Hank Pym to create a failsafe in Ultron to stop him should he ever lose control – which he claims to have done. One Wolverine eliminates the other and travels back to the present – did the slapdash, hail Mary plan work?
In a word – yes.
Ultron is discovered by a cadre of supervillains and is activated but in the climactic battle between the Avengers and Ultron, Hank Pym is able to activate a self-destruct virus he had implanted in Ultron when he was creating him, and Ultron is defeated. Hey, at least we got to see him at last – in the very final issue of the mini-series! Sue and Logan head back to Manhattan in their flying car and it looks like alls well that ends well. Right? Wrong!
In a strange, blurry sequence which culminates with the panels of the comic seemingly shattering, Tony Stark, Hank Pym and Hank McCoy are analysing the devastating tremors and Tony guesses – and it’s a helluva guess because he’s bang on the money – that Wolverine’s been travelling through time in order to save the world from Ultron and it’s Wolverine’s numerous trips into the past that has caused the rifts in time and space. Yep, Logan caused Marvel Infinity to happen!
But it’s a really contrived reason as the number of times Marvel has utilised time travel in their stories over the decades is staggering. In their Marvel NOW! relaunch alone there are at least two series – All-New X-Men and Captain Marvel – that have time travel as central to their storylines. So why now? Is there a limit on how many times you can time travel? It seems so. In the last issue the cyborg Tony Stark did warn Wolverine that time is an organic being and that abusing time travel would tear and damage it (though how he knew such detailed and accurate info is unknown – but then the dude can guess really accurately as evidenced in this issue!), so maybe that idea ties into this conclusion.
Then the really confusing cameos start happening – Galactus shows up for some reason, we get a Marvel ad for their next new series Avengers AI which spins out of this Event, and the series ends with Angela showing up! How, why, who knows? All we know is she’s not happy at being brought “here”, wherever “here” is, and she’s going after whoever brought her “here”. Which presumably means she’s going to kill Joe Quesada? Anyway, if you want to see what she does next, she’s going to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy #5 next month. Galactus’ storyline will also begin next month in Hunger #1.
Talking of forthcoming comics, there is one more issue in this Event, Age of Ultron #10AI by Mark Waid that’s out next week and is supposed to serve as a coda which explains the repercussions of the strange rifts that Logan caused, as Marvel are determined to squeeze every last penny out of this Event. But for all intents and purposes, it’s done – Ultron’s Age is told and over with (though of course, superhero characters never really die, etc. etc.).
The art in this extra-long issue is quite something. A plethora of who’s who in the comics artist world show up to draw a page or two: Alex Maleev, Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, Butch Guice, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Bonet, Tom Palmer, David Marquez, and Marvel Head Honcho, Joe Quesada, all bring their considerable talents to this final issue.
Age of Ultron #10 is about as decent an ending to the Event as it could have gotten. It started strongly, became more plodding after a couple of issues, and wound up being idiotic once time travel became the solution to everything. The alternate universe stuff with the Defenders and Tony “Cyborg” Stark was the low point and unfortunately lasted 3 out of the 10 issues (which was way too long!), and while I didn’t expect #10 to make sense of everything or make up for the mess that the mini-series had become, it at least delivered on a fight between Ultron and the Avengers, and Hank Pym lived to save the day.
Age of Ultron is supposed to springboard into the next Marvel Event – Infinity – but I felt the reason given for how these two connected with Wolverine breaking time was very weak. That said, I am interested in reading a Galactus comic and an Angela storyline.
In the end, Age of Ultron had a couple of good points but was mostly an overlong, duff Event that wasn’t very good. It could’ve been so much better if Bendis had stuck to the original premise instead of abandoning it in favour of time travel. None of the 10 tie-ins were particularly good either. Given the talent involved, it’s disappointing Age of Ultron wasn’t better than it was, but it is what it is – another sub-par Marvel Event.
Bring on Infinity!
Wait a minute, let’s look at the last few poor-quality Marvel Events – Age of Ultron, Avengers Vs. X-Men, Fear Itself… I’m sensing a pattern here. Actually, I think I’ll sit this next Event out.
Age of Ultron #10 by Brian Michael Bendis et al. is out now
This article was first posted on June 20, 2013