After a few years of speculation and waiting, Brian Michael Bendis has finally delivered ‘Age of Ultron’ to the hands of readers everywhere. Since about 2010-2011, the possibility of the deranged android created by founding Avenger Hank Pym making his return to the Marvel Universe loomed in the minds of fans, but the story kept getting pushed and suppressed. However, seeds were still being planted and cultivated since the Heroic Age began. Though many were left wondering if we’d even see this story after Bendis left the writing team of ‘Avengers’ a few months back, the story has finally arrived as the first major crossover of the Marvel NOW era.
In this first issue, the world is already under the rule of Ultron. New York City is in ruins, few heroes remain, and all hope looks to be lost. Despite the less than favorable conditions sprinkled with complete and utter chaos, Hawkeye is determined to get things back to normal as he goes on a mission to rescue one of his teammates from the clutches of The Owl, Hammerhead, and some other villains who are working for Ultron.
By utilizing the storytelling technique of “in medias res’, Bendis doesn’t give the reader too many answers to the questions that they have going into this series. Regardless, even though we don’t know how things came to be the way that they are, this first issue does a good job of setting the scene of this new world. Many have lost hope, few remain, and everything is in shambles in the Marvel Universe. You get that feeling right off the bat and throughout the issue.
Along with the story of Bendis, the art of Bryan Hitch really helps to establish the dark feel of ‘Age of Ultron’. I’ve always found Hitch’s style to have a gritty realism to it, and that style fits so well with the tone of this story, especially with the establishing shots in the first few pages of the book.
I’m very interested in what’s happening in the story as a whole and most definitely will continue to read this title, but there’s not a whole lot going on in this issue. There’s a lot of fast-paced action and tone-establishing bits of information in terms of setting and characters, but we don’t get too much plot. But you know what? It’s almost forgivable since we’re getting another issue next week. That’s one plus to this particular event. The first six issues are being released thrice monthly and the last four issues coming out bi-monthly, which is definitely a change of pace from the usual crossovers that take much longer to come out.
Though the plot deficiency is forgiven, one thing stood out as irregular and it had to do with a certain character. Recently, Peter Parker perished at the hands of Otto Octavius. Though his intentions started out as villainous, he has seen the error of his ways (mostly) and has declared that he’s going to be the all-new Superior Spider-Man. All the books in Marvel NOW! have reflected this change, but in ‘Age of Ultron’, Spider-Man had more Peter tendencies than Octo-Pete mannerisms. Though the two look the same (as the have the same body with different minds), there are subtle ways to tell that they’re different. One of the most obvious is the dialogue. It’s pretty obvious here that ‘Age of Ultron’ was conceived before ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #700 was in the works, but it would’ve been nice to see the necessary adjustments in this line-wide crossover, especially because ‘Superior Spider-Man’ has an AU tie-in coming up. At first, I wasn’t too bothered by it, but then as I got towards the end of the book, I really started to notice and it started to bother me. Hopefully in the upcoming issues things shift back towards the current cannon regarding Spidey.
Other than that slight snafu, I found that ‘Age of Ultron’ #1 served it’s purpose. The stage is now adequately set, so I’m hoping that we get more of a plot in the next issue coming out on Wednesday.
AGE OF ULTRON #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, & Paul Mounts