Today is a grim day in the Marvel Comics Universe. Ultron, the Avengers’ most dangerous enemy, has won. The world woke up one morning and found itself conquered, mankind murdered or subjugated, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on the run or in hiding.
Now the good guys have a plan to take back the Earth. In Book Three, Luke Cage has journeyed to the center of the beast known as Ultron, only to find his old teammate, the Vision, pulling the strings. Shocker! Age of Ultron Book Four – the story, the review, and the rant, continue after the jump.
Who Is Spider-Man? Final Answer
In my previous reviews of this series, I have railed about who Spider-Man really is. Many folks have brought it to my attention that that answer lies in Superior Spider-Man #6. I have a lot of respect for Christos Gage, the writer of that issue, mostly because he has a healthy respect for the past and what has gone before. He has also proven to be very good at accommodating the present with that past.
In Superior Spider-Man #6, if only for a page or two, he does that exact job connecting the dots to make continuity right between Spidey and Age of Ultron. As I said, Gage is a favorite, and he tries hard, but I still don’t buy it – for practical reasons and in-story reasons.
Number one, I don’t think Otto Octavius is that good an actor. We’ve seen him slide bumpily along in the Superior series. He’s good, but mot that good, more lucky than anything else. Even when he’s trying very hard to be Peter or Peter-like, he comes off distant, arrogant, and fake. It’s a miracle that Mary Jane barely believes him in my opinion. The problem is that in AoU, Brian Michael Bendis, who is no slouch in writing Spider-Man, portrays him as quintessentially Peter Parker.
I would rather have just had the powers that be admit that Age of Ultron was written before the events of Superior Spider-Man or the other truth, that artist Bryan Hitch is a slow worker, and there wasn’t enough time to make changes. If I had to read this issue of SS-M, perhaps an editor’s note would have been appropriate to let me know that. And having to buy another comic I didn’t want to understand one I did want is a deceitful business, especially when they are four bucks a pop.
I’ve talked about red skies before, and I’m not going to get caught in that trap again. The powers that be should be making comics more accessible, not keeping folks out. Not explaining tiny little continuity errors/glitches will make a new reader into an ex-reader.
The comics industry right now is narrowcasting. They are really only sold in comics shops, the only new readers are old returning readers and the children of readers. This has to stop. With comic book movies topping the charts, this is a perfect opportunity, why not use it. If you ignore a Spider-Man plot point, you might lose a new reader, but if you put in a note that your answer is in Superior Spider-Man #6, you might gain a new reader a new book. Think about it, Marvel.
In the time since Age of Ultron Book Three, Marvel solicits, and USA Today as well, have announced a new post AoU series called Avengers A.I., starring the two characters I feared might die in this current Ultron storyline, Hank Pym and the Vision.
If I was going to be mean, I might say I really have no reason to read the rest of Age of Ultron now. But I won’t go there, but I bet that I am right about that for quite a few people. Age of Ultron is an event, and events in comics usually mean deaths or worse. I am sure I was not alone in fearing for Hank Pym, and especially the Vision, after the last page revelation in Book Three.
I could also say a few words about how newspapers have nothing better to do than spoil comic books that haven’t come out yet. That’s all they seem to do lately. Captain America’s death, Robin’s death, the Superman/Wonder Woman romance, it goes on and on, and now this. Marvel editor Tom Brevoort has basically said that this is the way of the business these days, but sorry, I call foul on that. Marvel didn’t have to tell USA Today anything, and just let the book sell on its own merits and mystery.
As seen in last issue’s cliffhanger, Luke Cage, with an unconscious She-Hulk over his shoulder, went to confront Ultron and hopeful collect intel. Instead of Ultron, he was confronted by a hideously bisected Vision who seems to be running things. Luke tries to reason with him, Vizh falters a bit, then resorts to programming.
Before attempting to destroy them both, the Vision does drop a bit of a bombshell, that Ultron is running this game from the future. Time travel? Do I smell the hand of Kang in this? Sharp readers like me will recall that the first mention of an ‘age of Ultron’ or more accurately an ‘Ultron war’ comes from Kang himself in the last fifth issue of adjective-less Avengers. He knew about this! Hell, he knew about it when he took over the planet in The Kang Dynasty
She-Hulk is murdered by one, just one, of Ultron’s Sentries, fighting to give Luke a chance to get out of there, meet up with the rest of the ersatz Avengers and tell them what he’s found out. I need to mention that he survives a nuclear blast, flies to the Savage Land from New York, then finally relays the info mentally to the White Queen once they arrive. I need to mention it because that’s all Bendis does, he mentions it. That’s right, it all happens off panel. Yeah, I’m dumbstruck too.
Just before, or just as, Ultron/Vision/Sentries hit New York with a nuke, our team of pseudo-Avengers escape, on the wind via Storm and invisible via Sue Richards. Shades of Peter Pan. There are twelve of them – Captain America, Wolverine, Peter Parker, Quake, Valkyrie, Quicksilver, Tony Stark, Clint Barton, Photon, and Emma Frost, and Sue and Ororo, of course.
This didn’t seem right to me, I was sure there were more than just a dozen, so I went back and looked at previous issues. I was right, there were at least, probably more than, twenty survivors under Central Park. Did they leave Dr. Strange behind in that nuclear blast? Iron Fist too? What about the Beast? And most chillingly, on page 29 of Book One… is that the corpse of the Thing??
Speaking of dead comrades, and this has been bothering me since it was first mentioned in Book Three. How exactly does one kill Thor? Yeah, no argument, Ultron is up there with the biggest and the baddest, but he’s not Korvac, or the Midgard Serpent, or even a god. How could he possibly kill Thor?
Everyone convenes in the Savage Land. The New York team, Moon Knight and the Black Widow, poor Luke Cage, and the Red Hulk, all that remains of the Chicago team. Curiously the Red Hulk has the headless body of an Ultron Sentry as opposed to a head, which would have been far more useful, to my thinking at least. Ka-Zar, who Storm very formally calls Lord Ka-Zar also joins them.
It’s noted that the Savage Land was attacked only a few days ago. I was surprised by this. Ultron is a nut for adamantium. After destroying the Avengers, would his first move be to obtain adamantium, its largest resources on Earth being Wakanda and the Savage Land? Shouldn’t Ultron be all over this place?
I’m going to place my bets, based on both in-story clues and of course solicitations. The plan is to use time travel to undo what Ultron has done, and quite possibly even undo Ultron himself. I foresee a rewriting of Silver Age history that perhaps not only wipes Ultron, but also Hank Pym from the books. Maybe even Wolverine replaces him in the Silver Age roster. Wait, it could happen.
Maybe Neil Gaiman’s Angela grants Hank Pym a second chance after being erased. Taking odds now, what do you folks think?