The Age of Ultron continues in Book 2 as Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch shift the story from New York to San Francisco which has been similarly destroyed/taken over by Ultron and his army of lookalikes. On the West Coast we catch up with Moon Knight and Black Widow (who bears the scars of a horrific ordeal) as they struggle to survive amid the urban ruins, taking refuge in one of Nick Fury’s old hideouts, a low-tech environment which has so far gone undetected by the roving killsquads of Ultrons. But how long can the pair last, isolated and alone?
Meanwhile back in New York beneath Central Park, the surviving Avengers are listening to Spider-man who has recovered enough to begin telling what he knows of the Ultron takeover. We get to see a few word-free pages of flashbacks as Spidey witnesses the first moments when a giant robotic something (a ship? a foot?) began to take root in Manhattan and we also catch our first glimpse of Ultron – or is it?
Age of Ultron is the first Marvel Event I’ve enjoyed in a long while. I really like how Bendis is slowly revealing the extent of the devastation by moving the story about geographically but still manages to keep the reader in the dark as to whether this is an America-wide catastrophe or just parts of it, or whether the entire world has been taken over by Ultron. We’re also getting small pieces of the story to tantalise us further – Black Widow’s scarred face and Spidey’s wordless sequence giving us our first looks at the beginning of the devastating invasion but without explaining much.
The strange world that Ultron now presides over continues to puzzle. Monica Rambeau voices a question I had with the first issue which was why Ultron felt that he had to do business with low-lives who’d captured a superhero? And what’s Ultron planning on doing with them? The questions go unanswered, only adding to the interest in the story.
Bryan Hitch’s art is excellent and does a fine job of matching Bendis’ script in tone and mood, giving us a very dark and intense dramatic story. Whether this Event fits in with the Marvel NOW! line is unclear – Spidey certainly sounds like Peter rather than Otto which might be a clue so this series might be a “potential nightmarish future” storyline rather than part of Marvel’s reboot.
Age of Ultron #2 is as well paced and involving a read as the first issue and the series is setting itself up as one of Marvel’s more promising stories this year. While the series so far isn’t as fast-paced as its release schedule (issue #1 came out just last week and the Event is due to be wrapped up this June!) Age of Ultron is shaping up to be a fantastic and highly enjoyable post-apocalyptic story.
Age of Ultron #2 by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch is out now
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