Age of Ultron: The Ghost of Avengers Future

age1The worst thing that can happen has happened to the Marvel Comics universe. Ultron, the Avengers’ most dangerous enemy, a machine monster built by one of their own, has conquered and laid waste to the planet, and decimated and enslaved mankind. The few surviving heroes of the world have escaped to the Savage Land where they have come up with a plan to save us all.

With access to Doctor Doom’s Time Platform, half of the heroes have decided to go to the future, from which Ultron has masterminded this conquest, and defeat him once and for all. However, Wolverine has different plans, he will go to the past and kill the Avenger Hank Pym, who created Ultron in the first place, before it happens. Now, enter the two Ages of Ultron, after the jump…

Carlos Pacheco on Goliath and Yellowjacket in Avengers Forever.
Carlos Pacheco on Goliath and Yellowjacket in Avengers Forever.

Changing Faces of Art

A rather big change occurs in Book Six of Age of Ultron. The artist of the first five issues, Bryan Hitch, is gone. Instead we have two different artists lending visuals to the words of writer Brian Michael Bendis. For the Avengers journeying into the future to confront Ultron, our artist is Brandon Peterson, and for Wolverine’s mission into the past to murder a hero in cold blood, Carlos Pacheco. Pacheco is actually a very cool choice for the latter scenario as he also depicted two different versions of Hank Pym in the wonderful maxi-series Avengers Forever several years ago.

The editing problem raises its ugly head right on page one in the credits this issue. I don’t even want an editor, you, just a simple proofreader is all. The credits list one art team for “Past:” and one art team for “Present:.” Yeah, I was confused too. Isn’t one story line going into the past, and one storyline going into the future, not the present? Yeah, haters gotta hate, and nitpickers gotta pick nits. Honestly though, I thought I had missed something and the one team was attacking Ultron in the present.

I have to say it however, despite all the complaints I have had in past reviews here at Biff Bam Pop!, I would have rather still had Bryan Hitch doing the art. There’s a serious drop in the overall quality and seriousness of this storyline. Pacheco and Peterson, as well as their respective colorists, are much too four color superheroic for this dark tale of murder and genocide.

age2Nick Fury, Secret Idiot

In the future (or is it the present?), the team of ersatz Avengers step off of Doom’s Time Platform into the Savage Land, and are unsure they have actually traveled through time at all. I was surprised both parties emerged in the Savage Land actually, as I thought the machine could pinpoint place as well as time. Perhaps I’m wrong.

Immediately the group notices that the Invisible Woman is missing. Insert your own joke here. How would they know? Nick Fury shows he’s not as smart as Bendis keeps telling us by saying she was his ‘stealth component.’ Iron Man quickly points out the fallacy of this, her being invisible wouldn’t stop a being with thermal vision from seeing her. Maybe if Fury had said he was counting on her force fields for defense, I would have had more respect for him.

As if he’s not having a bad enough day in Age of Ultron Book Six, when Wolverine (and Sue Richards) show up in the past, they carjack Fury’s flying car. I really have a hard time believing this, as Bendis always builds this character up, and then here, in the space of two pages, shows him to be a fool in two different time zones. There’s a serious discrepancy in what we are told, and what we are shown, when it comes to Nick Fury.

Ultron’s future Manhattan, click to enlarge.

The Dark and Shiny Future

Flying via Storm’s winds, the Avengers make their way to New York where they find that they just might be in the future. The city, and the entire east coast has become mecha-formed into a machine paradise. Futurist Tony Stark is impressed in a brief character bit, but I was a little disappointed he’s not keeping his mind on the objective too. I was not impressed myself with Peterson’s pencils on the two-page spread of the city, Hitch he is not.

In pages that parallel Wolverine’s actions in the past, the Avengers are being overwhelmed by the sudden arrival of hundreds of flying Ultron heads. As if to prove me wrong in saying Captain America is not a bitch a few weeks back, the star-spangled avenger is decapitated, signaling the beginning of the end for our heroes in the future. Thankfully it’s done in tasteful shadow. As much as I wanted Hitch back, I know we would have seen this, and graphically, under his pencils.

age4Wolverine Vs. Goliath

As mentioned, Sue Richards hopped onto to Wolverine’s time trip. One would hope that she is there out of moral outrage, hoping to save the life of an old friend, but no, “It’s insanely complicated.” Who is this woman, and where is the real Sue Richards?

While the new duo steal Fury’s car and make their way to Silver Age Manhattan, we join Hank Pym as Goliath, circa Avengers #42 in 1967, as he examines the artificial creature known as Dragon Man. As we watch, Pym narrates out loud his thought process toward creating his own artificial intelligence – what would eventually become Ultron.

As much as I am sure Bendis dislikes Hank Pym, he plays this scene, and this character quite well and perfectly in character. I was blown away by these sequences. It was almost as if BMB was channeling Kurt Busiek or Steve Englehart. Enter Wolverine, announcing himself as “the ghost of Christmas future,” snikt-ing his claws and attacking like a villainous assassin.

Bendis does not forget, as I thought he might, that Goliath was one of the major powerhouses of the Avengers team at the time. Hank was not going to go down easy, and fights the little bastard until physical size-changing strength and superheroics fail against adamantium blades. Bendis sets the bar high in this black and white good vs. evil conflict… in which Hank loses, with his life.

age5I’m not sure what saddens me more – the death of one of my favorite heroes (as long as it lasts), or the moral death of another – why doesn’t the Invisible Woman stop Wolverine?? Logan has always been a killer, but when did Sue lose her humanity?

Romance and Remixes

I have a friend who is deathly afraid that the mission into the past, seen both here and in Wolverine and the X-Men #27, may result in some sort of romantic bond between Logan and Sue. I doubt it, but let’s be realistic, today’s writers are all about doing the impossible, the improbable and that which must not be done. We live in a world where Bucky lived. I hope that is not where this is going.

The FF kids - dead or alive?
The FF kids – dead or alive?

Also, maybe I missed something (and I know I can count on you folks to let me know if I have), but Wolverine more than once says in Book Six that Ultron killed Sue’s children. Did this happen off panel? I thought they lived while the rest of the Fantastic Four got wiped out by Ultron’s Sentries. Or does Logan know something we don’t?

I know I can’t wait for the next issue. In the meantime, if you want to check out my reviews of Books One, Two, Three, Four and Five, clicky-clicky.

Bonus, enjoy this track from my favorite nerdcore artist Adam WarRock called “Sad Ultron.” Not work or family safe, but… maybe Ultron’s not all bad…

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