Age of Ultron: Off the Rails

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.

One continuity, wiped from time by Ultron, a second, marred by the berserker Wolverine trying to set things right. Now we find ourselves in a world unlike either before it, one where Wolverine and the Invisible Woman are prisoners of an Iron Man who rules this planet. What’s next? Find out in my review of Age of Ultron Book Eight, after the jump…

Missed Opportunities

Last time, I had high hopes for this Brian Michael Bendis story. I was thinking that there might have been a switch made, and that there was a trick or two up the writer’s sleeve, but such was not to be.

age2After killing Hank Pym in the past, Wolverine and the Invisible Woman found themselves in a militant world run by Iron Man in a manner similar to the fascist regime of Ultron in the previous continuity, only with no killing. Instead of an Avengers, Fantastic Four, or X-Men, this world’s heroes were a ragtag group that called itself the Defenders (oddly led by Doctor Strange, who by my count, should be dead at least twice – at the hands of Ymir, and the Squadron Sinister – in a universe where there was no post-Ultron Hank Pym…).

The team seemed to fear King Tony Stark, and as capture occurred off panel, I suspected that perhaps they did not surrender our heroes to him as it at first appeared. No such luck. We jump ahead in Book Eight, as we begin this issue, our heroes are secure prisoners, and Logan is being interrogated. A switch would have been a story saving cliché in my opinion, but instead we get vanilla, again.

age3Iron World Order

In the interrogation, conducted by Professor Xavier, the White Queen, and very Doctor Doom-like Iron Man, we learn that time has gone down a different road on this world. The Avengers disbanded shortly after the death of Hank Pym, a murder blamed on Skrulls. I can see how that makes a small bit of sense. But I was unaware that the Skrulls were really treated as that dangerous a threat at that point in the Silver Age. I won’t however argue the point, for all intents and purposes, one could say that Skrulls murdered an Avenger.

We learn that Iron Man was torn in half during the Latveria-Asgard Wars, and this crazy Stark is the result. Here Bendis made me groan. This is an old trick of his – putting the words and concerns of traditional Avengers fans into the mouths of villains, psychos, and unreliable narrators. Here, we watch this sociopathic Iron Man lecture Wolverine on what he should have done rather than kill Hank Pym. He even says that Pym was his “very good friend” as if to drive home the point that this Iron Man is not the good guy.

age4Wandering Monster Rolled and Ready

If nothing else, this Iron Man is a bit more understanding of magic, almost paranoid of it. There is an impending dread of attack from Morgana Le Fey, and just like that, her forces attack, an army of Doom-like demons. Almost as if thinking about her caused it to happen.

There could be two things going on here. My first thought was – where is the Scarlet Witch? My second thought, and the more likely answer, is that Bendis has run out of ideas. Like a wandering monster in Dungeons & Dragons, they are designed to spice up the slow parts.

age5No One Trusts the Defenders

Meanwhile, once he’s taken prisoners, Stark and company kicks the Defenders to the curb. This is the moment they decide they have had enough, take down Xavier and Frost and break into the Helicarrier to rescue Wolverine and the Invisible Woman. Once our heroes are free – it’s time for an old fashioned team-up to fight Le Fey’s forces.

What’s wrong with this picture? Too convenient? Too transparent? The combined forces of Doctor Strange, Professor Xavier, the White Queen, and a Doomed-up Iron Man can’t stop Morgana Le Fey? Come on, don’t be ridiculous. Where’s Hawkeye when we need him? He’d take those odds with his eyes closed and one arm tied behind his back.

The White Queen makes a snide comment about why no one trusts the Defenders, but hell, I don’t trust any of you. And you know what, I don’t care about any of you either. My Wolverine killed my favorite Avenger, and my Sue Richards stood by and let it happen. The rest of them are just doppelgangers. I have no horses in this race, so when Iron Man’s toy helicarriers overturn and nuke New York… guess what? I don’t care. Age of Ultron Book Eight, for me, was epic fail.

What Has Gone Before

Who knows what will happen in the next issue of Age of Wolverine? If you want to check out my reviews of Books One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven, clicky-clicky.

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