Age of Ultron: Back to the Future

age1Everything has changed in the Marvel Universe of the Age of Ultron maxi-series. In a bid to save everything, Wolverine has traveled to the past and murdered the Avenger Hank Pym before he can create the artificial intelligence known as Ultron – who in the present has conquered the planet and decimated mankind.

But we all know what happens when you mess with time, don’t we? Yep, that’s right. Biff kills your dad, marries your mom, and makes her get back-breaking breast implants. Things may have gone from bad to worse for Wolverine and his traveling companion, the Invisible Woman. Find out why, in my review of Age of Ultron Book Seven, after the jump…

Marvel Team-Up

Back in an undetermined year of Marvel’s Silver Age, Wolverine has killed Hank (Goliath) Pym before he has a chance to create Ultron. The Invisible Woman uncharacteristically stood by and let it happen. Now they’re on their way back to the Savage Land and Doctor Doom’s Time Platform to go home to the hopefully fixed present.

age3This is an odd pairing, and it makes me wonder what writer Brian Michael Bendis is up to. Wolverine is one of his pet characters, so that’s easy, but Susan Richards? Why her? Is it only for her power set? Because one would have to be at least invisible to get out of Avengers Mansion after murdering an Avenger (even though it’s sadly not shown on panel).

Too Little Too Late

Too little too late. That may well be the legacy of Sue Richards in this issue. She has a lot of wisdom in Book Seven, but of course of of it is too late to convince dumbass Wolverine from doing the wrong thing. In the Savage Land she deters a T-Rex easily while chiding Logan, “Killing isn’t the answer to everything.”

age4Too little too late, Mrs. Richards. Where was this great power, great responsibility, and great bravado when your psychotic berserker traveling companion gutted your friend Hank Pym – a man who in your own words was “a heroic man in the middle of his prime.” If you can force-field a giant carnivore, you can force-field a mutant murderer.

Time Tag Team Art

The art duties are once again split between the past and present, Carlos Pacheco on the former and Brandon Peterson on the latter. Sadly that means Pacheco only gets five pages. This is not a shot at Peterson, I just prefer Pacheco is all. Peterson is a bit darker though, more suited to our new timeline I suppose. I gotta say, he did draw Sue’s eyes weird a few times.

Peterson being a bit darker isn’t really enough to differentiate however. Advance hype indicated that it had to be different artists once time travel was evoked, because things would be so different. Bryan Hitch in the first five issues imbued the story with his gritty realistic tones. But are Pacheco and Peterson suitable for this phase?

I’ll give you Carlos Pacheco for the past easily, as I noted last time, he’s done the Avengers of the past before in Avengers Forever. Peterson on the other hand doesn’t evoke for me, at least, anything as specific as Hitch or Pacheco.

age5Biff Tannen Is Your Stepfather

The wisdom of Sue Richards, that was so absent in Age of Ultron Book Six, is thankfully alive and well in Book Seven. She knows how bad this new now could be. She’s done the math. No Ultron means no Vision, and no Vision… Well, as Sue herself notes, “the Vision was one of the greatest Avengers of all time.”

Things have changed. I have to give Bendis serious props for thinking through how things might have changed without the Vision. The Kree/Skrull War reached Earth. Further along that line, it seems that the “Secret Invasion” went a little differently as well. Skrull paranoia seems rampant when Logan and Sue are confronted by this timeline’s heroes.

New York City is different as well. No Baxter Building or Avengers Tower on a much denser skyline, and a fleet of SHIELD (I’m assuming, I could be wrong) Helicarriers overhead. It also seems that Iron Man may well be in charge of … a lot. Absolute power corrupting perhaps? His ‘StarkGuards’ are in the Savage Land, and they’re also in NYC.

defendersThe New Now Defenders

And there doesn’t seem to be any Avengers in existence. Did the unhinged Scarlet Witch eventually destroy them? Or was it Count Nefaria, Kang, Dormammu, the Squadron Supreme, the Zodiac, or any number of other threats the Vision was key in defeating?

Instead of the Avengers, Logan and Sue face off against a very interesting teaming of the Defenders. This is a group whose very existence sorta suggests there might not be a Fantastic Four or an X-Men, as well as the Avengers in this new timeline.

The members of these new now Defenders include a burned Hulk, a cratered and perhaps slightly more mutated Thing, a ragged more serious Doctor Strange, Wolverine in his John Byrne brown costume, Star-Lord, a recent pet character of Bendis, and the Janet Van Dyne Wasp, who is apparently now Captain Marvel.

Janet seems to be coupled with the character called Cable, whom she calls “Scotty darling.” I have enough time travel headaches with this story to even think about how Cyclops might now be Cable. And then there’s ‘Colonel America,’ who could be Cable and could be Nick Fury. He certainly isn’t Steve Rogers, that’s for sure.

switchFinal Thoughts

Does any of this sound familiar? It’s not the first time that Bendis has pulled this trick. A whole new reality, a What If world? Yep. Remember “House of M”? It’s not a good idea to rehash old ideas, even if they are your own, especially when the storyline suffers from other such comparisons. I pointed out its similarity to “Days of Future Past” in an earlier review here at Biff Bam Pop!.

Has it occurred to anyone else that there may have been a switch on page twenty? We never see Sue subdued. The last we see of her, Janet is asking who she is really. And isn’t it odd that both Wolverines aren’t there when Iron Man and his minions show up?

Perhaps a switch has been made. The Defenders appear to be afraid of, or at least wary of, Iron Man. In learning who Logan and Sue really are, could they be protecting them from Stark? And could Iron Man have replaced the evil power vacuum left by the absence of Ultron? Did we trade Ultron’s Sentries for Iron Man’s StarkGuards?

How’s that for a cliffhanger?

Catch Up

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, Five, and Six of Age of Ultron, clicky-clicky.

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