For the better part of a decade, Brain Michael Bendis has been the architect and forerunner of the Marvel Universe. Starting with Avengers: Disassembled, Bendis took the Avengers shattered them, rebuilt them and labeled them as “New”, took them into a mutant dominated alternate reality, a super-hero civil war, a Skrull invasion, a villain’s dark reign, a siege on Asgard, and finally into a golden “Heroic Age” that trumpeted the return of the classic Avenger team. Needless to say, Bendis has taken the Avengers to extreme conditions during his tenure as Marvel’s head writer.
When Age of Ultron was announced, everyone thought that it was going to be the big finale; the book that would act as the capstone to Bendis’s decade long run. A book that was both teased in interviews and in the Avengers book itself. Age of Ultron was promoted as the definitive Avengers vs. Ultron story, but the final product was far from it.
When Age of Ultron started, it showed great promise. The series opened up with the Avengers living in the ruins of New York and conducting covert operations to avoid being caught by the evil A.I. system. The book showed promise of becoming a story about the Avengers, with their backs against the wall, launching a guerilla war against Ultron and, in a classic display of hyper-heroics, defeating the evil robot despite impossible odds. However, it seems that Bendis made the odds too impossible for the Avengers to overcome.
Instead of an Avengers story, we got a time traveling Wolverine story. Instead of seeing the Avengers battle Ultron, we get to see the Avengers slaughtered in a few pages half way through the series. Instead of an interesting alternate reality, we get a boring Days of Future House of Apocalypse Past, where the ideas presented are never really fleshed out. Yes, I’ve seen the blog post by Bendis where he explains what a Hank Pym-less reality would look like. However you know what would be cool? ACTUALLY HAVING IT IN THE BOOK. I feel like seeing Morgana LaFey and her Doom drones would be cool if you know.....Morgana LaFey was cool or if I was given any in-story reason to be scared of her.
The conclusion to the series falls flat. We never see Ultron in the series except for the last issue. Most of the pages in which Ultron appears are just reprinted pages from the 2012 FCBD Avengers issue, and a few new Bryan Hitch pages. However, there is not enough there to justify Ultron being absent in the past nine issues. While there are those who argue that the “presence” or “threat” of Ultron was enough for this series, I completely disagree. The explanation of how Ultron was defeated (Hank Pym “magically forgetting” that he wrote an execution code in Ultron’s programming) was lame. It only raises more questions than it answers and comes across as lazy writing.
The last issue seems to be focused more on setting up the next slew of Marvel event comics than actually concluding the Age of Ultron mini-series. Instead of having a satisfying conclusion to the Ultron story, we get to see the ramifications of Wolverine dicking around with the time-stream. I feel like if this series had shipped on time, the revelation about “time being broken” would’ve had more weight with the Marvel NOW relaunch. Instead it seems like a hastily thrown together, retroactive set-up for Marvel NOW. The revelation of Galactus being in the Ultimate Universe would have been a lot cooler if I still cared about the Ultimate line (that love died when the “middle finger to the fans” known as Ultimatum was published). Plus, we’ve already seen this story when Warren Ellis did it a few years ago. Then there’s the Angela reveal that just falls flat because, so far, Marvel has not given me a reason to care about this character who I know next to nothing about.
Looking back on Age of Ultron as a whole, it might be the worst “event” comic I’ve read from Marvel. It showed so much promise in the beginning but got distracted with Wolverine, time travel, Morgana LaFey, Angela and bunch of stuff along the way. It could’ve been great, but, in retrospect, it was doomed before it even really got started.
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