Thursday, 16 May 2013

Review: Age of Ultron #8

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Finding themselves captured by the Defenders, Wolverine and the Invisible Woman must escape their Starkguard captors and try to make sense of this new world of their own creation.

While there is nothing technically wrong with the Age of Ultron, as we enter the home stretch, I can't help but feel the entire exercise has been utterly redundant. After the last few issues worth of reality-shifting, we've been introduced to a radically different Marvel Universe. One featuring a bizarrely mutilated Iron Man, his personal Starkguard army and Captain America's merry band of rebel Defenders. All brilliant reinterpretations in their own right, but given how little time we're likely to spend with them in the final two issues, I'm struggling to care as to their fates or even their current plight. They're given just enough panels to react to how strange it is to know they're living in a broken timeline, before protagonists Wolverine and Sue Storm break out and seek to change everything back again.

Even more distressing is the apparent death of this universe as well. If it wasn't bad enough that Ultron trashed the regular universe, we're now witnessing an entirely new scenario of everything going to hell. As in the final pages, the Starkguard's mortal enemy, Morgana Le Fey attacks New York with her Doom/Loki hybrids and two Helicarriers crash into one another, taking the entire City with them. This new universe won't even get the chance to come back in future stories ala House of M or the Age of Apocalypse, it's done and dusted within two issues of it's creation. This seems utterly wasteful on Bendis' part. Why introduced all these new concepts, simply to eradicate them with a wave of a hand.

My favourite part of the issue comes when this new version of Tony Stark, more machine than man, marvels at the original universe and like any sane individual, points out all the ways this mess could've been easily averted. I know Wolverine has never been the smartest guy in the world, but his whole "kill Hank Pym early" plan is so full of holes, even the characters within the story are pointing them out! Tony rightfully asks whether Logan attempted to talk his colleague out of creating Ultron or could've planted a time-release virus in Ultron's programming, that would've allowed the Marvel Universe to unfold as it once did. Of course, being the same old stubborn Canuck we're used to, Wolverine would much rather solve the problem with his claws, Butterfly Effect be damned.

Don't get me wrong, the story is wonderfully written and aptly drawn, but the Marvel Universe as a whole has passed this story by. Most series had a single AU issue to their credit, but then carried on with regular storylines as if nothing ever happened. The final two issues of this jaunt will have to pull off some major twists and turns if this story is to become anything more than a footnote in continuity. The idea would've been better served as an isolated arc during Bendis' reign over the Avengers titles. As an event though, it's woefully short-sighted and easily dismissed. Just look at how all the attention is going on Jonathan Hickman's 'Infinity' instead of the end of 'Age of Ultron'. Wrap this one up quickly and it'll be no more remembered by the audience, as by the time-warped combatants.

5 out 10

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