For the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes of Marvel Comics, the worst thing that could happen has happened. The Avengers’ most monstrous enemy, the evil artificial intelligence known as Ultron, whose only desire is their destruction, machine domination of the planet, and enslavement of mankind, has won.
Earth lies in ruins, and the Avengers are hunted by Ultron’s robot Sentries. They have fled to the Savage Land at the bottom of the world, and now they have a plan to stop Ultron once and for all, but can they actually go through with it? For my review of Age of Ultron Book Five, and lots more, join me after the jump.
Hank Pym and The Vision
Book Five begins with a flashback to “months ago.” We’re looking at maybe one to two years ago because Hank Pym is in his Wasp costume. He, Tony (Iron Man) Stark, and Reed (Mr. Fantastic) Richards, a veritable braintrust of Marvel Earth, are checking at the still body of the Vision. They’re discussing the Vision’s origins, which have changed more than a few times over the years. It would have been nice if they acknowledged this. Instead, geniuses Stark and Richards use their time constructively and play the blame game.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis likes to beat this one into the ground. Hank Pym built Ultron. It’s all his fault. Even the two smartest men on Earth think so. If we’re talking subtext here, it’s a big middle finger to any Pym fans, and any Vision fans as well. The information given here is faulty. Ultron did not create the Vision. He took a duplicate of the android Human Torch (a duplicate made by Avengers foe Immortus), and reprogrammed it to join and betray the Avengers. Ultron altered the android’s powers, and transplanted the brain patterns of the at-the-time-deceased Wonder Man into his brain.
This is something that Hank Pym knows pretty well. He knows the Vision incredibly well. Am I the only one who remembers when Ant-Man took a tour inside the Vision during the Kree/Skrull War? Probably, I’m old like that. Am I also the only one who remembers that time Ultron put the Vision into a coma, only to have Hank Pym resurrect him to battle Count Nefaria months later? Pym had to know something about the Vision to bring him back from the dead, right?
There’s a lot of talk here between our three geniuses, maybe more dialogue in these first four pages than in the whole run of Age of Ultron so far. Much of it, as I said, is the blame game, in which Pym always loses. They have all seemingly forgotten that the Vision used to be the Human Torch, or rather a duplicate of the Human Torch – or maybe it’s Bendis who has forgotten. They are stymied by why the Vision hasn’t awoken, and then similarly puzzled when he does.
The implication of course is that Ultron is still controlling him after all these years. Something that drives Stark crazy in the present as the survivors search for Nick Fury’s secret lair in the Savage Land, crazy being the operative word. Stark is not used to being wrong, or fooled. Maybe if he hadn’t been drinking in the seventies, and paying more attention to what was going on with his teammates…? But I digress.
It has been theorized, that in the same way that the Vision was programmed with Wonder Man’s brain patterns, and Jocasta with the Wasp’s, perhaps Hank Pym used his own brain patterns for Ultron. This would give a whole new meaning to the cover of Age of Ultron #10A.I. new meaning. Maybe the reason Pym is leading the new Avengers A.I. team is because he will emerge from the Age of Ultron as not only an artificial intelligence, but also as Ultron himself?
Among the geniuses, there is also the wish/what if conversation. Pym wants to go back in time and tell himself not to create Ultron. Richards wants to go back in time and be nicer to Victor von Doom, and kill Hitler, and knock the apple out of Eve’s hand in the Garden of Eden. Speaking of crazy talk, isn’t Reed the guy who just told his kids there is no God over in the Fantastic Four title? Who is this guy? And haven’t they all had access to Doom’s time machine at various times anyway. It sat in the basement of Avengers Mansion for years. These scientists could have played with it any time they wanted – but didn’t.
That last bit is important. They never messed with time because they knew better. They had seen folks, dangerous folks like Kang, and even Doom himself, misuse time unto horrible circumstances. They would never do it. And that’s what makes The Plan so dangerous, and so outrageous, so against the morals of the Avengers. They know how dangerous it is.
The survivors find Fury’s secret Savage Land hideout, and Fury himself, sitting on a stockpile of superhuman weapons, including Doctor Doom’s time machine. Fury’s plan? Travel back in time and convince Hank Pym not to build Ultron before he actually does it. Riiight. Check your old Avengers comics, folks. Pym didn’t even remember when he made Ultron (or if he did), because the robot erased his memory! I have theorized myself for many years that it was Ultron’s mental tampering that caused Pym’s first breakdown and transition into Yellowjacket. Chew on that for a while…
So if even Pym isn’t sure when he created Ultron, how would our temporal strike force pinpoint that moment? They couldn’t. Not that that’s why they don’t, but that’s beside the point. They elect to go find Ultron in the future and end him there. Yes, they do realize that, being in the future, he knows they’re coming. They go anyway.
So while the good guys are determined to fight the good fight, Wolverine and some of the others make a plan of their own. Their plan demonstrates that unlike the good guys, they are the bad guys. Wolverine determines to go into the past and murder hank Pym before he creates Ultron. It’s notable that former villainess White Queen Emma Frost is down with the idea when it was discussed earlier. Bizarrely, Monica Rambeau also agreed with the murderous mutant and the former Hellfire Club member. Is there something in Monica’s past we’re not aware of?
One would think that Hank Pym’s best friend, Clint Barton, would object to this course of action. But this is Bendis’ Hawkeye, and he hates Hank Pym, so I’m sure he’ll play along and be an accessory to murder. My question is – will Bendis remember that Hawkeye knows the controls of Doom’s time machine by heart, having used it so often himself in the pages of Avengers to visit his other buddies, the Black knight and the Two-Gun Kid?
Didn’t Iron Man’s Mark II armor have points on the helmet? Why is Captain America wearing a jacket over his chainmail in a tropical climate? What purpose does the Austin TX interlude serve? I found it repetitive as we already know this is happening everywhere, right? If SHIELD can make their own Ultimate Nullifiers, why do we need to call Reed Richards every time Galactus shows up? Why doesn’t Nick just grab a space Ferrari and go take out the Big G himself?
I’ll leave you for the moment with my favorite line of dialogue from Superior Spider-Man, who is guaranteed to be Otto Octavius, and not Peter Parker – “I have to actually be in danger — not just doomed and depressed. My doomed and depressed sense is blaring like a car horn, if that’s what you mean.” Your mileage may vary.
I’ll be back next time with more time travelin’ Ultron craziness, same Biff Bam Pop time, same Biff Bam Pop channel. In the meantime, if you want to check out my reviews of Books One, Two, Three, and Four, clicky-clicky. Until then, stay assembled.