Sunday, November 27, 2016

Uncanny Avengers #11 Review

Previously in Uncanny Avengers: Hank Pym returned, merged with Ultron's latest model, from outer space. He proceeded to blow up a statue of himself and act incredibly childish because when you're a renowned scientist on a team of superheroes I guess that's something you do. Captain America Steve Rogers called in Janet Van Dyne, aka the Wasp, to check Hank out and after tossing a Ghostbusters reference he didn't catch, she threw up the red flags and Cable decided to take him out after alluding to the possibility Susan and Reed Richards may return (not likely thanks to Fan4stic). Now Deadpool, the moral center of the team, has Pymtron at gunpoint! Gasp! THE SUSPENSE! 
If it isn't apparent by now that Ultron is one of my all-time favorite villains then I'll just go ahead and say: Ultron one of my all-time favorite villains. He's my favorite villain that Marvel's got in their arsenal, followed closely by a little-known Dr. Doom. He's just awesome and evil incarnate, but he has so much depth and character to him that it makes me excited every time he's around. At times this can be done well (recent example: Rage of Ultron) or poorly (recent example: Age of Ultron). So far we haven't seen too much of Ultron, more of Hank Pym.

Given how last issue ended, I think we're going to be seeing way more "tron" than "Pym" in the whole "Pymtron" dynamic. 

And yes, I will refer to the cyborg as such throughout the rest of this review. Mostly because their bodies are merged together, but also because their minds are very much related and this is shown several times in this one comic alone. Their memories are merged and their thoughts do align. It's clear that Ultron is corrupting Pym, but, there are some valid points that Pymtron brings up that Hank Pym himself may have made at one point or another. 

One big thing of note is that this issue is a major departure from the previous two. Gone are the tender moments of wallowing over Hank Pym's fate or wondering if there is still man beneath machine. We've hit the accelerator and the brake's gone missing. This comic is a nonstop thrill ride, full of fighting and letting many of the Unity Squad members appear to toss their...well, fists into the ring. Not to mention three surprise Avengers appearances, though one is way more important than the other two. 

And if Ultron's fighting someone, you already know I'm there. So let's check it out. 

This cover is only better than the other two previous to it because there seems to be nothing going on while everything is going on. It's very reminiscent of that shot from Avengers: Age of Ultron where Tony Stark has that vision he's gotten everyone killed in space (spoilers...?) in that everyone is dead on the rubble in front of Ultron as he impales Deadpool with an energy beam. The only thing I don't really like about it is the coloring. Online it doesn't look too bad but in person the red-orange is so over-saturated that it's tough to look at sometimes. I like the idea, not so much the overall execution. 

We open right after the events of last issue, to learn what happened after Deadpool fired his rifle right at Pymtron! 

It would appear that Deadpool gave him a warning shot to make Pymtron stand down, given how he is surrounded by Mr. Pool, Cap, and the Wasp. Pretty good odds, to be honest, but then again, they are combating the physicality of Ultron merged with the intellect of Hank Pym (you could argue Ultron was always smarter than Pym but whatever). 

Though it's interesting that Pymtron notes how these aren't even the proper Avengers. I suppose this does answer my question of "why isn't this in All-New, All-Different Avengers. Pymtron wasn't looking specific. He wasn't looking for the Avengers, but rather a team of Avengers. As it turned out, Rogue was in the area, and she had an Avengers lisence when last Ultron was on Earth. So as far as both of them were aware, she could be on the same team as Vision, Sam Wilson, and Lady Thor. 

Although, it makes you wonder if Pym wanted to get revenge on just that team from Rage of Ultron or just the Avengers in general. If so, then he would be able to kill them all except for Spider-Man and Sabretooth, whom he would have to hunt down individually. Heck, I don't even know where Sabretooth is right now. The "X" books are a mess right now, and have been for a while. 

But as Pymtron prepares to waste these dudes, we get a surprise visit from none other than Ultron's prodigal son! 

Vision used Sky-Uppercut! It was super effective! 
Oh, heck yeah! Vision's here! Just what an Ultron story needs: gramps, father, son! And two of them are in the same body, that just makes things so convenient.

Unlike the previous issues, Gerry Duggan manages to just explain things to us flatly for once: Vision had been monitoring Pymtron since he entered orbit and was waiting for some sort of confirmation that Ultron had truly won over Pym's body and mind. Though that does call into question at what specific point he should have intervened. You know, like Janet knew Pym wasn't entirely in control and before the building blew up, injuring Cable and Johnny Storm. Like that would've been nice. 

But it wouldn't have given us a cool splash page and terrible one-liner, would it? 

Don't think so. 

Ultron seems a bit put-off by Vision's arrival and has this to say: 

Alright, kids, let's play a game I like to call: "What Family are YOU In?"

The Ultron family tree is about as easy to untangle as the headphones in your pocket right now. The most basic of it is this: 
That's what five minutes on Microsoft Paint gets you, kiddos. 

I'm not entirely sure where Pymtron thinks that Vision is their brother. As he says later, quite clearly, Pymtron is the final combination of Pym and Ultron, claiming that it is both man and machine. Which is fine, but, it also makes that line incredibly confusing. It could have been "Vision. My old friend." "My son." 

But brother? What makes this more confusing is that it's the Ultron half that says Vision is his brother, when in Rage of Ultron (the story this is a SEQUEL to), a big part of the climax is that it's father and son duking it out at the end just as, at the end of the first act, it was Pym and Ultron fighting it out. It's meant to be a mirror situation, where love lost in the first act and won out in the end.

If Duggan has us believe that the two synthetic beings are brobots, then it diminishes the beauty of the final fight severely. It was a nice attempt at nodding at the lore here, but just fell so far short of the target that it wound up confusing any newer readers. There's no doubt that people new to comics have probably seen Avengers: Age of Ultron and know that, at the bare minimum, it's Ultron that creates Vision. Sure they may have been thrown off that it was Pym who created Ultron, but, there's Wiki articles that'll verify that. Suddenly throwing at them that Vision and Ultron are brothers? Nah, man. 

Anyway, the two get into a pretty even brawl, with Vision showing off his superb strength, as they begin to rally together to prepare for "Project Icarus," a nice little bit of foreshadowing for how this story is set to end. 

Then we see Captain Marvel up in space. Oh. 

While her arrival here is welcomed and pretty cool, I guess, it's also completely unnecessary. It shows the launch of the Icarus ship inbound for Earth, but I don't think we needed to see that. It's simply setting up what will be the closing moments of the comic, but, did we really need to see Captain Marvel punching a tentacle alien in space?

I mean, it's super cool, but, this could have also been used as a page to toss banter back and forth between Vision and Pymtron. Perhaps go more into that mirroring I mentioned earlier.

It makes me wonder if she is here sort of as a way of pushing her more into the public's eye to continue the publicity Civil War II was trying to soak up at the time. Captain Marvel was becoming way more popular--not in the best of ways--and throwing her in here would make readers go "oh cool I guess" and it worked's just weird. It doesn't make me want to see her story, I want to get back to the intrigue going on with Vision and Pymtron.

Speaking of, they continue to punch each other and Deadpool continues to suffer as Ultron's attack from the beginning starts to infect him much the way that characters were becoming robotic in Rage of Ultron. Janet prepares and EMP to use again on Pymtron and it's up to Vision, at first, to get him back to base.

Quicksilver and Rogue show up to help Vision out, and Quicksilver manages to do the most damage here.

I've gotta admit: while there isn't too much in terms of story going on here, this comic is a real page-turner. The action is the most exciting it's been throughout the arc and the artwork is so great, never getting in the way or muddling things up. Pymtron is drawn well and Pepe Larraz makes the most of Quicksilver's brief battle scene here. His art takes a real step up in this comic, as if he's more comfortable drawing the action sequences.

And unlike the cover, the colors here are excellent. I haven't mentioned him much, but David Curiel has been awesome throughout this arc with the colors. Pages are popping out of the comic and make things feel so fresh and fun. The action sequences in particular are amazing on his end, always making it clear what's going on and what things are meant to look like. While many of the backgrounds are a bit dull in terms of color, his characters really leap away from the backgrounds and jump to the reader's eye fast.

Oh, and speaking of fast, that's not a speed Quicksilver's going to be going anytime soon.

Ah. The Reverse-Bane. 
Dude. Pymtron. Gross. 

Captain America leaps into the fray and knocks Pymtron into the range of the EMP for Janet to use. Deadpool gets in his one good joke of the comic (seriously man, what's with that?) and Vision returns to confront Pymtron, who claims that he's still merged together with Ultron, and that it's only going to get worse for the heroes. 

He reveals that while their efforts here have all been for Pym, there was a long stretch of time where Hank Pym had been forgotten. Maybe that's a slight at Marvel, but to be fair, they were a bit busy with wrapping up Secret Wars and establishing all these new status quos (that at the time of this writing are now completely shaken and basically gone). 

Captain America decides "screw it, I'm awesome" and goes in on Pymtron's metal body, only to be repelled by Pymtron, who is back at full strength. More importantly, he has further fused with Pym's body to feel such human ways like the rare and mysterious "nausea." Truly, science has made leaps on this day. 

Vision returns and locks Pymtron in place, giving the others room to escape from...something. As Vision holds him, Pymtron continues to rant about how nobody went looking for him and how they couldn't even send Rocket Raccoon after him. While it may be whiny, it only further's Ultron's character, not so much Hank Pym. 

While Pym is the face that Pymtron wears, this is ultimately an Ultron story. Vision says earlier in this comic that Ultron has always fought the Avengers because he's sought acceptance from them. Ultron decided that, if he couldn't beat them, he would always have to prove their better. This is no different, though Vision does not say it. 

Pymtron goes on and on about how they left Hank Pym to die, but really, he's talking about himself. They care so much for Charles Xavier, but not him. Why is that? And, really, it's a good question. It's the best point Pymtron's made this whole time. Why didn't they go looking for Hank Pym, or more importantly...why not look for Ultron? Who is worse, the one who destroys, or the creator of the destroyer? Add on the fact that the creator is the father and you've really got something on your hands here. 

I believe that this is something screenwriter/ director Max Landis would call "narrative potential." He goes on and on about this, explaining that Dick Grayson has some of the most "narrative potential" of most comic book characters, but I would throw my hat right in there with Ultron. He is the son of a father that hates to love him and is the mortal enemy of dad's best friends. Ultron just wants to find a home, and by hell or high water he is going to find one. And he wants his family to be involved in it, and if he can't have a family he is going to make one. For someone to not think about Ultron is devastating to him. He is, after all, their self-proclaimed greatest foe. How could you not plan for him, how could you not focus all your attention on him? 

Duggan, throughout this arc, has been hinting at this idea through the dialogue and through the actions of Hank Pym. It seems now more than ever that Hank Pym is truly dead because, honestly, I don't think Pym really cared about this. Pym destroyed that statue not because he was still alive. But because that was all they did to remember him by? Ultron's father? 

Merging Pym and Ultron together to create Pymtron was probably the best move Marvel could've made with the character and this one comic shows why. All of the moments specifically involving Pymtron and Vision hint at these ideas and this tragedy that Pym and Ultron find themselves in. While some of the other bits are fine, they really pale in comparison to what's going on with Pymtron and Vision. Their struggle at the end is, yes, a distraction, but I really wish Duggan had gone just a little more into it. Again, you cut that Captain Marvel cameo and you certainly have room for that. 

Yet through all that, all this philosophy and ideas about Ultron's psyche, it seems that Vision is just focused on holding Ultron in place. In the "landing zone." Landing zone of what? 

So yeah. 

This comic is pretty great. It's light on the story elements but is a great highlight for what's been going on with Pymtron. The action in this comic is incredible and while many of the jokes and one-liners don't stick, it's fine because the Hulkbuster just pounded Pymtron through New York to China. IT'S COOL, MAN. 

The art is so much better than it's been so far and Curiel's colors are the standout here. His characters are so well-done that it's hard for me to forget about them when I close the book. They just draw my attention straight to them that it makes this comic all that more enjoyable to read. 

Next time, it's the conclusion of the arc. And based on that final splash page, you know it's about to get real. 

Social media: 
Twitter: @seanovan13
Instagram: @seanovan10

Review of: Issue 9/Part One

Review of: Issue 10/Part Two

Review of: Issue 12/ Part Four

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