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COMICS REVIEW: AGE OF ULTRON #1

Why can’t he hold all these Avengers?

Ultron is the mistake that Hank Pym should be remembered for. For the uninitiated, Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man. He was one of the founding Avengers, constantly deals with an inferiority complex since he works in the same universe as Mr. Fantastic (Doom has the same problem), and is known for a comic in which he smacked Wasp up; the actual writer stated decades later that Hank Pym was never a wife beater, but the idea has been cemented in Marvel canon. It’s also what people always bring up.

Ultron is the real menace though. Ultron is the AI based off of Hank Pym’s brain patterns that conveniently decided it hated organic life. The latest appearance of Ultron was during Abnett & Lanning’s cosmic Marvel run where it was very good at what it wanted to do (unless it has shown up in the mean time). This however appears to have no basis in the actual 616 universe, but rather it’s the Avengers’ version of Age of Apocalypse. It’s a dystopian society ran by Ultron; an Earth that’s his base to wreck havok on the rest of the galaxy. It’s also not perfect.

Brian Michael Bendis’ best work was his street level heroes and not his Avengers’ run. Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Daredevil, and especially Alias (AKA Jessica Jones) were all fantastic; his Avengers’ run suffered from having too slow of a development along with some of his other work. It’s just particularly obvious when he’s dealing with a wide variety of characters. Bendis is a big champion of story decompression; to him, a story should be as long as it needs to be and not necessarily be contained in a 26-page comic in any way. This makes it better to wait for a trade paperback over buying singles.

Age of Ultron seems to be suffering this; the start of it was interesting, riveting, and engaging, but it felt a bit hollow. Swamp Thing and Animal Man (the current Nu52 versions) have suffered recently from such developments, and Age of Ultron may be following suit. The art by Bryan Hitch resembles the Marvel in-house style; it’s standard cape comic fare without much variation, but it isn’t horrible either. It’s clear he was on a deadline, but it doesn’t completely distract from the script he was portraying.

Bendis’ story is very reminiscent of both Age of Apocalypse. Ultron has taken over, and he has the ability to infect people with nanotechnology (think more Prey from Michael Crichton than Deus Ex). It’s also including Bendis favorite Luke Cage in a role, but not exactly the primary one. Hawkeye and Spider-Man (Peter Parker) are the focus of this first issue. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic, especially Robot Apocalypse storylines, you’ll enjoy this. To me, this was a disappointment, but my judgement is reserved for the second issue.

Moon Knight, my favorite crazy hero, had his last run build up to this (also written by Bendis). It ended abruptly for Bendis to work on this. He doesn’t appear until that second issue, and from the build-up on that comic it was expected that this would be a universe event. It’s merely an alternate universe setting which may very well be better in the end.

Pick this up if you’re a fan of Bendis, Bendis’ Avengers’ cast, or apocalypse settings. Otherwise, wait until it’s finished and buy the trade paperback at the most. Or just stay away; there’s plenty comics and games that could use your patronage.