Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Age of Ultron #5-6" Review

Previously on "Age of Ultron": Villains are heroes! Heroes are...useless! The only heroes doing anything were the ones with previously sketchy backstories. To try to make themselves useful our heroes went to the Savage Land...because the place with zero technology is gonna be a good fight against the all-technological enemy. Oh, and Ultron is from the future and has taken over Vision because...he's an overprotective parent? Onward, to bad comic books! 

Issues 5 and 6 are where things begin to take a turn for the worst. Whereas the last two issues were at least passable in the material they provided, by showing our heroes actually doing something or at least attempting to and by extension possibly moving the plot forward, these issues decide to do a 180 on our characters. Moral judgment? Pft. We can time-travel to slaughter our allies! Not sure what I'm talking about?

After this review, I'm sure you won't want to know.

Oh, and by the way, Ultron is in Issues 5 and 6 all of once in a completely useless scene. Yes, it is truly his "age" indeed.

The comic opens with Hank Pym, Tony Stark, and Reed Richards all looking over the body of the Vision we saw earlier, only this is months prior to the end of the world. There's a bit of confusing dialogue where Stark introduces Vision to the two as if they've never met...yet if this is supposed to be in the main 616 continuity, Hank Pym has been more than aware of Vision for a while as has Reed Richards, since they've fought side-by-side many times. More than likely this was just Brian Michael Bendis, the writer of this story, trying to fill new readers in, but it comes off as very forced exposition on the part of Hank Pym. They keep reminding us that it wasn't Pym who created Vision, it was Ultron.

They also tease twice the idea of Hank Pym going back in time to prevent himself from not creating Ultron. And it's on this page that this entire comic, or at least what's left of it, undoes itself.

Tony Stark is the only one making sense here, too. Well and Reed, to an extent.

As we'll soon see, someone does go back in time to stop Pym from creating Ultron, and its affects are not very pleasant. So, then, how do you reverse that? By going back further, and further, and to the point where you, like Stark says, may as well slap the apple out of Eve's hand. That's always been the problem with time-travel, that things may be different but maybe not in the best of ways. In Back to the Future II, Marty and Doc go out of their way to prevent something bad from happening but make everything worse for their family.

Another example is brought up in X-Men: Days of Future Past, where Hank McCoy theorizes that time will always find a way to make an event happen. That no matter what, what was meant to happen will occur in one way or another. New 52: Future's End explores this idea to an equally confusing manner as here, but you get my point.

Going back in time and stopping Hank Pym from creating Ultron would be catastrophic. There are some good things that would come of it, like maybe the really lame House of M miniseries would never happen because Vision was never created and then Scarlet Witch wouldn't have a hissy fit to rip apart reality, but Vision is such an integral part of the Avengers that ridding the world of Ultron would rid the world of a hero. Even here, the moral dilemma is present, and is made even worse when Reed Richards points out the fact that while Vision is indeed an android, he is still alive (not going to get into the philosophical mumbo-jumbo but for the sake of this comic, he is alive to the world) and thus he is life. Stopping Ultron stops Vision and thus ends a life...and many more, given how many Vision has saved.

I'm getting way too far into this. Point is: going to the past would be ridiculously stupid.

Back in the present, Tony begins to have a bit of a breakdown as he realizes how ridiculous it all seems in hindsight for them to have befriended Vision in the first place, as it now seems like it was all setting itself up perfectly for him to have all the data and be swept up by Ultron. Well, that's something of a good point, but that's what trust is for you idiot. Besides, these things are unpredictable. Every time Ultron gets defeated you weren't expecting him to come back, right? And, like we just covered, Ultron was alive, he made his own choices and wouldn't consciously betray his friends like that. He wasn't as connected to his father as Ultron was, which is what distinguishes the character from his father.

This is just the first instance of the writing trying to take a step forward then takes a step back. Be ready for much more.

The group arrives at the cave and...okay, I have to touch on something really quick. The panels in this comic are really...annoying. Most comics follow a pretty basic outline one a single page:

No big deal. And this comic seems to do the same, with a little deviation here and there. However the problem comes when the pages aren't separated. The panels flow onto the next page and its very difficult to tell if it's broken up because of the crease down the middle that, to the trained eye, is indeed a panel break. It's just how you read the comic. Page on the left, page on the right.

Thus, what's confusing is that you'll read the page on the left and realize there are parts missing and then read the page on the right. And while there is a flow to it, it's completely unorthodox and wasn't at all featured in the previous issues. Everything is, basically, a two-page spread, when the book would do just fine in a standard format and not make me read this boring jungle-trip twice!

Anyway, the group reaches a bunker and they try to bust in, but nobody seems able to until Red Hulk pounds his way in. The group is suddenly attacked by not-Nick Fury until Ka-Zar attacks not-Nick Fury until it's revealed that it really is Nick Fury! :O

Wow! What a not at all surprising twist because we knew it was his bunker...? What was the point of keeping him in shadow? Also: Wolverine points out that it's really "him." No duh. I mean, we learn in Original Sin that it's actually not Nick Fury (if this is in the main continuity) because the real Nick Fury is having fun up in space, but still, why say that? Who else would it be?

So, Fury introduces them to the bunker and


Uh...what just happened? No, seriously. The comic takes three random pages to show us some guy, not previously in the story, and then reveal that Ultron has just now after 18 days begun attacking Austin, Texas.

I have no comment. It is that useless to the plot.

Back to the real plot, Fury lets the team in on his plan: to not use the Ultimate Nullifier (yet, at least, though we know he totally would) and instead use Dr. Doom's time portal thing to head to the future and take the fight straight to Ultron. Heck yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Get all the heroes together in a ragtag group of Avengers, jump forward, and go straight to the big man himself in the fight for all-time, right?!


Instead, Tony Stark plays the optimist before Quicksilver (welcome to the story, buddy) suggests its their final hope. Then, every shred of both likability and sensibility of this comic gets thrown right out the window when Wolverine suggest going back in time and killing Hank Pym before he can create Ultron.

Oh, but Wolverine doesn't remember who it is that created Ultron, but knows Pym so well that he knows about his personality. How does that happen?!

Trying in a desperate hope to spread logic, Sue Storm and Spidey try to reason in a single panel (showing how much BMB cares about any logic in this story as well) with Wolvie about how dumb that would be as it would shatter the already-broken continuity, but Wolvie doesn't care and apparently none of the other heroes have an opinion on the matter. Which is absolute bull-crap because they're all friends with Hank Pym, and Fury should be the one telling Wolverine to shut up since they already have a plan! Get used to this, though, people: Wolverine is going to become the loudest and at the same time most annoying character in this book.

Fury, sticking to his plan, shows off an armory of weapons that he has and suddenly the background changes from all white to grey. It's symbolic for the dark turn this comic just took into being really bad and stupid.

We get a few chuckle-worthy moments where Stark reunites with some old armor, Red Hulk gets a weapon of Ares, and if you read the Moon Knight by Brian Michael Bendis run then you'll get a good laugh out of Marc Spector trying to take the web-shooters from Spidey. What really bothers me, and this is a minor thing, is that Nova's helmet is also in the room. 1) How did Fury get a Nova Corps helmet? 2) Why doesn't he give it to one of the heroes like Spector or Black Widow, one of the more "human" heroes? It would give them super-abilities and definitely increase their odds against Ultron, since it would be an unpredicted variable on Ultron's part. He may know that Fury has it, but can't predict who would be the one to own it since he doesn't know whose still alive in the past.

The group leaves and Wolverine orders Hawkeye to fire up the time portal, since he's going back in time to kill Hank Pym and there's nothing they can do about it. And you just know Wolverine is crazy when Marc Spector of all people is begging him not to go. Wolverine, you are an idiot. But, the stupid isn't ending here, folks! While Issue 5 gives us another glimmer of hope with the battle in the future, Issue 6 is going to ruin it forever.

It begins with Wolverine arriving "years ago" and Sue Storm reveals she also traveled back with him so she could deal with her moral dilemmas. Wolverine, though, tells her morality to shove it because they have to kill a guy so they can save her kids in the future that were killed by Ultron. Because Wolverine is the perfect man to deal with morality in this situation.

After a cute Nick Fury in the past cameo they head off to find Pym. Meanwhile, in the future, the people who have a good and wise purpose begin their trek toward New York. The Savage Land is untouched and nothing seems to have really changed. Yet.

Back in the past, Wolverine catches Pym's scent. So what' s he up to?

Yowza, a lot of dialogue. Wanna know how important it is? I can sum it up this easily:

Hank Pym: "I wanna create a super special really cool artificial intelligence that will be really fun yay."

Wolverine arrives and shows, once more, that knows a lot about Hank Pym despite the fact that he couldn't remember his name earlier. He also says that in that very instant, Hank Pym doomed them all in the future, even though all he did was have a thought.

This comic is trying really hard to paint Wolverine as this "no more games" kind of person, and trying to make him all badass, but really, it's just moronic. Obviously Wolverine should have stayed in the past to try and aid in the defenses, or gone into the future to try and fight Ultron where he wouldn't be able to enact his idea of killing off Pym in the past. Nobody thought about, nobody thought that sending him into the future would stop that?

This comic can be undone very, very easily, too: go far enough into the future to when Ultron does make his move to be able to stop him there. Boom. Then he can't coordinate his attack in the past and there may be casualties but it would be heroic sacrifices for millions, if not billions, of lives in the past, and the timeline isn't severely destroyed as it will be by killing technically two Avengers by eliminating Hank Pym.

In the better battle of the future, our heroes stumble across what is to come of New York.

I mean, it looks nice. Then you remember it's run by a killer robot with daddy issues, and it isn't that nice anymore. Thus, the battle is on against little Ultron drones!

Why Ultron doesn't have the body copies anymore...I have no idea. You'd think they make for stronger warriors but, I mean, this fight becomes irrelevant anyway.

We could back to the past where Wolverine has injured Hank Pym, who temporarily turned ginormous, but Sue Storm stays his hand from killing him. We get a constant back and forth as the tension is supposed to be rising as Sue makes her decision on whether or not to let Wolverine finish the job and end Pym right there as our heroes continue to fight a losing battle in the future.

Pym begs her not to let him do this, but ultimately, she allows Wolverine to finish the job, killing Hank Pym.

Thus, our comic ends with Wolverine just walking away and saying that whatever awaits them is undoubtedly better than what they left. Spoiler: it's just as bad, if not even more stupid.

So, how are things shaping up in Age of Ultron? Poorly. Every character but Nick Fury and those who try to speak up are either stupid or completely pointless, and many characters are just downright forgotten at this point. Whatever significance Hawkeye and Spidey had early on is wiped clean as they've been replaced with Wolverine and Sue Storm, the former being a boneheaded moron and the latter listening to the boneheaded moron for moral guidance.

The question of morality and whether or not its right or wrong to kill a person is brought up in this comic and is completely thrown out the window. Wolverine doesn't struggle with killing Hank Pym and it could be implied that Tony would easily throw away his friendship with Vision if it meant saving the world. Even when presented with many different avenues of saving a life or altering the course of what happened, they instead choose to take the easy way and just kill them because it makes them easier on themselves. For some reason the other heroes just let Wolverine go without at all questioning him even though several of the heroes in that room would have been able to subdue and detain him from acting out.

The artwork is decent in this comic. Wolverine's face is constantly changing but that's a minor thing. The sequences in the past are well-done as bright colors are used just as they were in the time it was based in. Overall the colors on the characters stand out very well, and in Issue 6 yellow is the dominant color but in an oddly good way, I'm not sure what it really is.

Sadly, Age of Ultron is taking a turn for the worst, as it goes from being mediocre to just down right bad and dumb. However, at least it's still ABOUT Ultron. Next week, we find out that may not be the case anymore, so why the heck is it even called "Age of Ultron" in the first place?

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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