Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Age of Ultron #1-2" review

No, this comic has nothing to with the movie. Not that it's a bad thing. I've more than once stated my claim with the "Civil War" film adaptation, and I think many would agree that if Marvel were to adapt this storyline, it would be one heck of a trainwreck. 

Much like the story we have before us. 

There is a lot of confusion over this story, the least of which is where the in heck this fits into the continuity. Brian Michael Bendis stating while writing this miniseries that it was in the main Marvel Comics continuity, on Earth-616. Then Marvel released a statement that it might be on its own universe, and several fans have taken up that side of the argument. And with the new "Secret Wars" storyline set to begin this May, there is a new section of Earth in which the "Age of Ultron" universe will battle with "Marvel Zombies" universe. 

It doesn't help that this event never clarifies where it is. Normally, if its in an alternate world, it would say Earth-#, like in the "Spider-Verse" event, where we bounced around from Earth-616 to Earth-1 and so on. 

Some of the other confusion comes at the end, and we'll get there. The last big bit deals with Spider-Man and how there is controversy over which Spider-Man it is. 

Oh, by the way, gonna be a lot of spoilers for anything relating to "Age of Ultron," including the story, Moon Knight, and Spider-Man things. 

I'm reading from the trade (paperback), and in the trade there is including an extra story of "Avengers #12.1" showing how it is that Ultron came back and would then leave to come back again. While it is a necessary story, serving as something of a prologue, I won't be reviewing it as a part of the main "Age of Ultron" story. Also, I won't be taking a look at any of the covers. None of them are particularly impressive from what I can tell, though, so we're not missing much. 

In that issue, all we really need to know is that a crime syndicate captures Spider-Woman, who is later found by the Avengers. The Avengers, and Secret Avengers apparently, bust in and reclaim Spider-Woman, before realizing that their true objective was to unknowingly reactivate Ultron (whose head was also just featured in the stories of Moon Knight, yay). They do so and Ultron gets away. Iron Man claims that they can't follow an energy trail, but that still shouldn't stop them from doing a search. In the end, Stark claims the world is going to end because he saw it in a dream. Yeah, well one time I dreamed I was in a flying truck running off a roller coaster ramp. That didn't happen a week later. C'mon Stark, at least try!

Anyway, now we can get into the main story! And it starts off so...happy?

But why did Ultron behead the Statue of Libterty?

So, yeah. Since New York City is taken over, we're meant to assume the rest of the world is the same. Also, fun fact: Ultron has only been back since he left a couple of days. And he did that. Also: a two-page spread follows right afterward of, um, a spaceship or something. Because Ultron!

Here we see that New York's suburbs are pretty much a ghost town, but not for everyone's favorite Hawkeye! He wastes a couple of goons before busting into an apartment, saving a young woman and wasting a few more goons. Apparently the apocalypse triggered him to starting killing people (though, to be fair, Hawkeye isn't known for being overly "generous" all the time).

In the basement, he finds Peter Parker, broken and battered and tied up to a chair. And then more goons!

Wait, didn't Hawkeye just have a bow? 

Anyway, he and Spidey manage to get out but not before a few floating gold Ultrons in the sky order all humanoids to get the heck outta there. Hmm.

One of the goons points out that he and Ultron struck a deal, that he paid up already. Doesn't matter. The big ol' Ultron ain't no one's fool, so he blows up the building anyway. Kinda makes you wonder why he would tell the to get out, since Ultron is all about extinguishing humanity. In fact, Ultron and a bunch of other characters do some head-scratching things, and it only gets more confusing as we go along.

Clint and Peter manage to get back to Central Park where Luke Cage and She-Hulk greet them warmly.


Tony Stark, not in an Iron Man suit, comes and inspects them to see if Ultron infected them with anything. I'd imagine that Ultron would be able to surpass that tech anyway, but safety first.

We see there are several other supers there, like Beast, Wolverine, and Emma Frost, but it's otherwise desolate. Hawkeye claims that he's trying to still live like they used to, to still be a hero, but it's difficult to do that now if they mean to survive.

And because apparently nobody else can think of a plan, they're stuck sitting around. But, surely Captain America has a plan of action, right? We can get through this!

Shh...he's just sleepy!


The second issue begins with a cloaked woman out in San Francisco, where the damage is the same, the buildings are the same color, and it looks like the bay has been dried up. But I really can't tell given the art. Thanks.

Everywhere you look...

After narrowly avoiding a few passerby Ultrons by pretending to be dead (a horrendous tactic against the greatest AI in Marvel history), a man approaches her and asks for money or a car. Uh, dude, pretty sure every car in the world is blown the heck up. Not gonna get anywhere with that. That also begs the question of what currency Ultron takes, maybe the Euro takes over the world as well?

The woman is revealed to be Black Widow, who either got blasted in the eye or has a severe case of pink-eye. Regardless, the man gets a bullet in the head by none other than Marc Spector, the Moon Knight. Who is, for some reason, dressed more like Aiden Pierce than the Moon Knight but I suppose the outfit he's wearing would give him away easily to Ultron. At least he still wears the chest plate.

Also: consistency! Moon Knight was last seen out west, so, this makes sense. Also, I'm not as strung up about Spector killing a man like I am Hawkeye. Spector has done his own thing for a long time and prior to becoming an Avengers with a code or whatever, or even Moon Knight in general, he was a mercenary. Plus, he looks cooler doing it.

After watching a few more people get incinerated by Ultron (who asks to submit or perish...but submit to what, false hope?), Spector and Romanoff meet back up at one of Nick Fury's secret bases: a basement. DANG what a genius he is.

The two make a vow to die fighting Ultron and to avenge all their friends. Yay, at least some heroes are doing something. Meanwhile, in mopey town New York...

Spider-Man reveals that he is Peter Parker. Thanks.

Here, we see just how it is that he got captured and how sudden it was that Ultron arrived on Earth:

Typical Tuesday, am I right?!

So, yeah. Ultron just basically dropped a giant spaceship onto NYC, cool beans...wait, what? Not like it's ever really explained where that came from, we're just supposed to go along with it, I guess.

They have a small pow-wow about Ultron bartering with scum like those who held Peter, and it does raise a very significant question. I'll get to it in a moment, though. Spidey asks what they are supposed to do, and Iron Man suggests just trying to survive...

Before Captain A-freaking-merica gets up on his feet and says that he has a plan! YEAH.

These two comics serve as a good introduction into what could prove to be an interesting story. All of our heroes are at an extreme low-point right now with seemingly no way out. They have little energy and no allies to call upon that they know of. Ultron has them beat in every way, and these two issues show that in an exemplary way. Mostly through the story, though.

The artwork is pretty average here. Nothing really stands out or jumps off the page. Everything is a bunch of washed out, dull colors, as well as a heck of a lot of grey. I know it's supposed to be a dark, grim atmosphere, but it just becomes so boring to look at. Plus, few heroes have distinguishable looks besides those with mutations. Hawkeye and Cap almost look the same many times.

But, the major question here, one that is never really answered and is probably overlooked: how is this even happening? Think about it.

If Ultron could wipe civilization off the face of the Earth in a week, and reduce 7,000 New York based supers off the face of the Earth, what is stopping him from destroying the rest of humanity and the superhero community at large? It's definitely not inferior tech or any design flaws, especially given what we'll learn next week. Is it perhaps some pride, forcing the heroes to just wallow in defeat for now? There is no reason that Ultron doesn't swoop in a kill all of the heroes remaining, it just doesn't add up. I mean, he's got all of his bases covered in case of an attack, but as an intelligent AI, Ultron should know from past experience what happens if he lets his enemies live.

These issues, while good, do point out early many of the flaws this series may have as it progresses, but the big ones are yet to come. Next week, Cap's plan gets put into motion, and we find out that there may yet be a safe place from Ultron...

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @seanovan13 to stay up to date on when I post. Thanks for reading!

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