The worst has happened. The Avengers’ greatest enemy, Ultron, has won. The Earth is conquered, the human race decimated and enslaved, and the Avengers on the run. In a last ditch effort to stop the evil artificial intelligence, our heroes have turned to time travel for salvation.
After several trips back and forth through time, resulting in bad and worse results, a decision is made. Hank Pym is to hardwire the monster’s defeat into its programming as he builds Ultron for the first time, then make himself forget he did it – supposedly preserving the timestream, yet saving mankind. Will it work? Find out in my review of Age of Ultron Book Ten, after the jump.
After more than a few months, but nowhere as long as most big comics events, we are finally here, at the epic conclusion of Age of Ultron. Perhaps Ultron will make an appearance. The book has more pages than the standard $3.99 comic, is written by Brian Michael Bendis, and illustrated by a virtual gang bang of artists (so much for universal visual continuity) including Bryan Hitch, Alex Maleev, Butch Guice, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, David Marquez, and Marvel Comics head muckety-muck, Joe Quesada.
With the hand of Quesada in this (infamous for his treatment of the erased Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson marriage), as well as Bendis, and this being such a major event, this final issue should have some finality, some importance, some closure – correct? I hope you haven’t bet any money on that. I was very very disappointed with this Book Ten.
Ghost of Pym Past
The issue begins with Dr. Henry Pym, ‘some months ago,’ chilling in his lab when he gets a ping on his computer, telling him to answer his door. When he does, there’s no one there – except for the invisible Invisible Woman, and a package with a tablet in it. He goes inside and plays the message he’s told to. It’s his past self in the video of course, warning him about Ultron.
In what should be a major story moment of this series, I am left with nothing but questions, irrevocably pulling me out of the story. Who could possibly ping the computer of the Scientist Supreme without him knowing it, or allowing it? Pym doesn’t have defenses in his outer hall against intruders, especially invisible intruders? He is an Avenger after all, with tons of enemies still gunning for him. And most of all, where did Past Pym get a digital tablet?
This is all looking past that Past Pym seems to know a lot more that we have been shown he does. But then again, that’s a Bendis trademark – important things happening off-panel. He says things like “Of all the things we’ve messed up in our lives…” That alone kinda boggles my mind. What exactly did the Wolverines and the Invisible Woman tell him? Everything? Perhaps that knowledge is what causes the psychotic break that turns him into Yellowjacket.
Or perhaps not. In the JLA/Avengers crossover, a past version of Pym is confronted with his sins and mistakes. He faces a choice to change those things to make himself and his future life better, or set the timestream safe and save humanity. He chooses to save mankind. D’oh! Not the first time this Age of Ultron has been derivative. I have mentioned the similarity to things like House of M and Days of Future Past before, so nothing new there.
Next we are treated (yes, I’m in sarcasm mode) to a battle between a team of Avengers and the super-villain scientist team called The Intelligencia. Why does it look familiar? Because we have seen this before, well over two years ago, which is when I’m guessing that Age of Ultron was actually written. That would explain the glitches in this series pretty easily. Spider-Man was just Amazing then, rather than Superior, among other things.
In the original story, first presented in Avengers #12.1, The Intelligencia had found a Spaceknight fallen to Earth, and attempted to reverse-engineer it. Surprise, it was really just a shell that was holding Ultron, most recently at that time causing trouble in space during Marvel’s Annihilation events. Ultron says hi, and escapes… to eventually return and make Age of Ultron a reality.
Thanks to the ever-more-knowledgeable Past Pym, Iron Man on the site of the battle is sent a kill code for Ultron. It takes far too long to download into the metal monster, during which time we watch Ultron dispatch a handful of Avengers, including unbelievably Thor. In the past, Thor has been one of the few Avengers to stand toe to toe with Ultron. I still find it difficult to believe Bendis listed him among those dead as this series started.
After eight pages, mostly with giant panels, and one double page spread (another Bendis trademark), Ultron is defeated. I say ‘defeated,’ as opposed to ‘killed’ or ‘destroyed,’ because it is never definitively stated as such. After all this crap, ten issues worth, there should be finality, closure as I said. There is not. If this is not the end of Ultron, then all of this was for naught.
This isn’t like the death of Catwoman over at DC Comics, where we all know she’s not dead and she’ll be back soon, because that’s how comics work. In this story, if Ultron is not dead, it invalidates the entire story. Ten issues at four dollars a shot is forty dollars. If Ultron is not dead, I would have been happier if Marvel Comics just politely asked me to set fire to two twenty dollar bills.
Before we, as readers, have a chance to question this conclusion however, stuff gets weird. After another two-page spread that forwards the story very little with the resolution of Logan and Sue Richards returning to a ‘normal’ present day New York City. Looking at it, I could only think that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could have done the same thing in one panel, and it would have cost less.
This is followed by five pages of caption-less pretty pictures. We see many alterations of Iron Man, Hank Pym, and Wolverine, as well as montages of various timelines and alternate universes. It pleasantly reminded me of the rare full page panel the late Dave Cockrum did waaay back in 1974, when Kang the Conqueror and Rama-Tut first clashed in Giant-Size Avengers #2. Yeah, Dave did it all in one panel.
The explanation that follows the pretty pictures state that all of Wolverine’s trips through time have broken time. Yep, that old gem, the space-time continuum is broken. I have to wonder, Wolverine does it a few times, and he breaks the whole durn thing, but why when Kang does it, and we know he’s done it hundreds, if not thousands of times, he breaks himself?
After our haphazard explanation of the space-time continuum being broken, and the multiverse having holes in it, I fully expected a segue way into Jonathan Hickman’s upcoming multiversal Avengers epic, Infinity. That’s perhaps what it should have been, but it wasn’t. We got segue ways, all right, but to completely different places.
What we get is Ultimate Spider-Man seeing Galactus, preluding the planet-eater (the real one this time, not a cosmic gas cloud) attacking the Ultimate Universe. Considering the rumors that have been floated regarding that comics line, one might suspect that Galactus gets lunch this time.
Next there’s a one page conversation between Pym and Stark that vaguely hints at the series we know is coming – Avengers A.I.. I have to wonder why Marvel didn’t take this promotion opportunity. This is followed by the much-anticipated first appearance of Neil Gaiman’s Angela in a Marvel Comic. Don’t get your hopes up. It’s a single two-page image, followed by an ad for Guardians of the Galaxy #5.
And that’s it, that’s all we get. Pym meets Pym, without explanation. A recycled battle from a two-year old comic. An unconfirmed resolution. Single and double page spreads that could easily have just been normal single panels on a comics page. And multiple ads for upcoming comics. As I said, Very very disappointing. I am sooo glad that Bendis is (hopefully) done with the Avengers now.
Collect ‘Em All
Haven’t had enough? Feel like taking your own trip into the past? If you want to check out my reviews of Age of Ultron Books One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine, here you go, clicky-clicky.