Marvel Comics’ ten-issue maxi-series Age of Ultron is over by a few weeks. The massive time travel epic that had the Avengers’ greatest enemy finally winning has come and gone – but what has really changed? And will there really be any change? You can read my thoughts after the jump.
The real story of Age of Ultron is probably forgotten to the winds of space-time. I suspect that Wolverine and the Invisible Woman remember. I might also suspect that Hank Pym knows something of what really happened. But does it matter? Here’s the gist – the Avengers defeated Ultron a final time, using a long dormant computer virus implanted when he was created, a virus of Pym’s creation. That last part might be shaky. If Pym created it, why wasn’t it used years before this, saving countless lives?
We, the readers, and perhaps three characters from the Marvel Universe, know a different story, the ne that played out in ten widescreen issues of Age of Ultron. Ultron won. The planet was conquered. The human race was decimated. What was left of the Avengers was on the run for their lives. In desperation they turned to time travel, and most of them died.
Wolverine and the Invisible Woman sought to nip it in the bud, as Don Knotts used to say, and kill Hank Pym, Ultron’s creator, before he created the metal monster. This didn’t work out either. Through trial and error, multiple temporal divergences, they finally devised the plan of the retrofitted computer virus. The Avengers won, Ultron lost, world saved, but time was broken. We’ll get to that last one in a moment.
Hank Pym walks away from Age of Ultron relatively unscathed, despite getting fatally mutilated by Wolverine at least once. He bounces out of the series with a new origin by none other than Mark Waid in the oddly titled Age of Ultron #10A.I. and then right into a new series of his own, Avengers A.I..
With Ultron defeated, assumedly once and for all, and at the hands of Pym, he might be considered a hero, and is in most cases as indicated in these two issues. S.H.I.E.L.D. has a different take. They are aware that the virus that destroyed Ultron has gained a sentience of its own. Calling itself Dimitrios, after an old friend of Pym’s, it seeks to pick up where Ultron left off. Prodded by S.H.I.E.L.D., Doctor Pym organizes a hit squad of Avengers and pseudo-Avengers to take the new machine menace down, and thus Avengers A.I. is born.
The thing is, Hank Pym has stopped Ultron before, many many times. He did it during the Kurt Busiek run, the David Michelinie run, over in Steve Englehart’s West Coast Avengers, hell, believe it or not, he also did it in Brian Michael Bendis’ own Mighty Avengers – and Bendis was the architect of Age of Ultron.
Pym’s redemption for Ultron has been resolved countless times, but has seemingly never stuck. The same can be said of his slapping his wife, an incident ominously not being mentioned in the Age of Ultron era. I suspect its ghost will pop up again, and soon, but for the moment, Pym’s hero status seems to be sticking.
A direct result of the ending of Age of Ultron is of course Hank Pym’s revival and reversal of fortune in Avengers A.I., but the more exciting and dangerous aftermath of the event come from Wolverine breaking time and space. I have serious questions about Wolverine having done this. We don’t see him actually do this to begin with. We have only his word that he’s run through time far too many times, and then of course the writers’ words when we see all the diverse endings of Age of Ultron.
First there’s Galactus entering the Ultimate Universe, as chronicled so far in Hunger #1. It’s an intriguing idea, a scary idea, as I addressed in my review of the comic, but as a result of time and space being broken? I’m not sure. This is more in the way of a beakdown of dimensional walls, isn’t it?
The amping up of dimensional difficulties coming from Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers series may also be a side effect of this, but time and space? I’m not seeing it.
The biggest dimensional breach, at least the most newsworthy, although I don’t see the actual connection story-wise to Age of Ultron, is the coming of Angela to the Marvel Universe. When I first heard about this, I had to go to Google because I didn’t know who Angela was. I liked Spawn on HBO, and love Neil Gaiman, but never read the comics with any frequency at all. These characters, and their legal problems, barely entered my radar.
Angela’s appearance in this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy #5, written by Bendis, fantastic art by Sara Pichelli, with ‘consultation’ by Neil Gaiman, was less than stellar to my eyes. Oh sure, the art is terrific, and I dug the interaction between Iron Man and Rocket Racoon, but the Angela stuff just left me flat. It seems so out of place. The real action here is prologuing another dimensional tear storyline coming up – Infinity
Star-Lord runs into Mantis and shows her that there was a breach in time recently, “all of time at once.” Wouldn’t Mantis immediately suspect Kang‘s involvement? And speaking of the Conqueror, why hasn’t time broken from all of his travelling back and forth and back and forth through time? He’s done it so much he even created an army of divergent doubles from divergent timelines. If anyone breaks time, he’s the guy, not Wolverine.
Still, Angela’s appearance makes very little sense to me. If we’re going to pull a character out of another comics universe, I can’t be the only one who thinks immediately of Marvelman, can I? He might’ve been of some use against Ultron, and haven’t we been waiting for him to show up for forever?
The big Avengers news from Marvel Comics to come out of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was the big reveal of the title of the Avengers movie sequel. Yeah, it’s called Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. In the Joss Whedon-directed sequel to The Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will face off against the cinematic version of Ultron.
I have talked here ad infinatum about the origin of Ultron, so you must be asking the same question many comics fans are still asking. If we aren’t seeing Hank Pym in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until the Ant-Man movie, which comes out after the Avengers sequel – where does Ultron come from? It’s easy, if you think about it – Tony Stark.
Stark already has armors that are nearly sentient, scary powerful weaponry, and he has already built an artificial intelligence. JARVIS. Yeah, that’s what I think they’re going to do. JARVIS will become Ultron. JARVIS already acts more than a bit superior to Stark, what if he would gain independence from his ‘father?’
Don’t get me wrong, folks, this isn’t how I want it to be. I am as big a Hank Pym fan as you will find, and a Pym-less Ultron is almost blasphemy, but having seen Marvel’s The Avengers dozens of times, and loving it more each time – I trust Joss Whedon. I think this will work. But let’s not lose any sleep on it until it gets closer, okay?
Will Ultron be back in the comics? Sigh. Of course he will. If only to help promote the movie when it comes out next summer. Let’s just hope it’s reprints and trade paperbacks, because, if Ultron returns, it essentially invalidates the ending, and the plot, of Age of Ultron. Sadly, it’s at times like this that I remember that Marvel Comics is also the company that told me Bucky was dead, and Captain America, and Professor X, and Thor… several times…
Tripping Into the Past