Back in January 2013, Marvel announced that Brian Michael Bendis’ long-awaited storyline ‘Age of Ultron’ would finally be going to print. Fans were excited to say the least and many were expecting the 10-issue limited series to change the landscape of the Marvel Universe forever. However, by the time the final issue came out in June, everyone was pretty much done with it. The story was riddled with plot holes and far too many unanswered questions. I recall saying that Bendis started off telling an interesting and engaging story, but then yadda yadda yaddaed over the best parts to something completely different. Overall, the whole thing was sort of a bust with a few redeeming qualities.
Fast forward to one month ago. The House of Ideas shared that they would be releasing one of their infamous ‘What If?’ series for the underwhelming crossover event. Written by Joe Keatinge, ‘What If? Age of Ultron’ dives into the alternate timelines and parallel universes of the Marvel Universe to find out what would bring about the Age of Ultron if another founding Avenger had perished in Hank Pym’s place.
My first thoughts on this book after I had finished reading it pertained to how depressing everything was. This might have been the most depressing comic that I’ve read in a long time, but it worked for what the writer was going for. It had a very ‘Terminator’ vibe to the whole thing with Ultron eliminating humanity and taking over the world, but there was a ‘Twilight Zone’-esque finish that was pretty cool despite being a huge downer.
While I did find the story to be an interesting one, I did have a little problem with how the story was set up. After the recap page that described the purpose of the ‘What If?’, it opened with the anomaly from ‘Age of Ultron’ that caused various people to see alternate versions of themselves. But what made this instance different from when it happened to Star-Lord or Wolverine was that it killed the Wasp. I’m not really sure that I buy that. It came out of nowhere really. I was expecting this alternate timeline to split off from the moment that Wolverine traveled back in time to murder Pym. That’s the point in the story where these alternate events should have diverged. Instead, we just drop in on a random moment when Hank is talking about the idea of Ultron. He hasn’t even made moves to start making him yet. It felt like Keatinge just started at any point in Pym’s timeline prior to the birth of Ultron and decided to off Janet Van Dyne in order to get his story moving. If there was one problem that I had with the issue, it was that there wasn’t a real reason for a founding member of the Avengers to die, unlike the original ‘Age of Ultron’ story.
But that problem aside, at least we got an answer to how the Age of Ultron began. In the original series, Bendis just jumped right into that world where the robot had already won, but then never explained how he did it. The ‘What If?’ did a better job of explaining how things came to be and I appreciated that very much.
Overall, ‘What If? Age of Ultron’ #1 had it’s problems, but not nearly as many problems as the original ‘Age of Ultron’. Even though it was a super downer, it was an interesting take on the event had things happened a bit differently.
WHAT IF? AGE OF ULTRON #1
Written by Joe Keatinge
Art by Raffaele Ienco & Felix Serrano