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Real Talk: 'Age of Ultron' #6 Exchanges Good Art for Things Happening

A comic review article by: Sean Gonzalez, Shawn Hill, Jamil Scalese

Sean Gonzalez: Shucks. The grand ol' battle between the desperate future survivors and a fresh young batch of Avengers didn't happen. Instead, we're treated to Wolverine vs. Giant Man, which manages to keep the intensity pumping on high despite the scenes being paired with the downfall (literally!) of our heroes in the future.

Clearly Bendis has finally found a steady pace, and he chugs along through these parallel missions well enough. I'm just disappointed that the art has gone through such a dramatic shift right when the writing found its comfort zone. Pacheco does a stunning job of representing Buscema's era while also providing a visceral showdown between the two heroes. On the other hand, Peterson's panels --while drawn grittily enough-- seem to be tossed in willy-nilly. The randomness of the layout makes the events that take place in the future come off as a tad irrelevant. Of course, this sense of irrelevancy is only increased when you consider the effect of Logan and Sue's actions in the past. This all brings me to care less and less about the loss of these heroes. It's getting more and more likely that all these deaths -- decapitations and all -- will be rectified in a time reversal... wavey... thingamabob?

 

 

Shawn Hill: I dunno, the Wolverine/Pym battle basically amounts to "WTF are you?" vs. "Eat claw, Silver Age Fossil!" Pym is even more pathetic begging Susan for rescue... it's pure culture shock, which Bendis nails to the wall. I found that part predictable, and I don't think either Peterson or Pacheco are turning in their best work. Both look really stiff, though Peterson at least channels a little Niven-esque drama. Pacheco actually looks like Breyfogle on an off-day, in fact. 

That said, I applaud the final outcome for the past travelers, which was much more dramatic (and more clearly told) than the apocalyptic future section. The only clear part of that was the spread of Robo-Manhattan, which was pretty beautiful, whatever it was meant to be. However, Cap looking like Uma Thurman getting sliced up in Kill Bill on the same page ... not a pretty sight.

 

 

Jamil Scalese: After dissension among the ranks last week I think we unite like Voltron on Age of Ultron #6. It's the tale of two cities, or maybe the tale of two Furys, but those separate threads are noticeably uneven, both in art and tension. 

It's all about the off-kilter Invisible Woman/Wolverine team-up. Pacheco nails most of the past sections, and Roger Martinez holds down the ink game with gusto. I also enjoyed Jose Villarrubia's colors. That half of the team evokes an era gone by without going totally retro on the art. 

I agree with you perfectly on the other half, Shawn. The only great page is the first glimpse of Ultronopolis, which Tony accurately describes as a "masterpiece." The rest of the work looks flat, unexciting and unfocused. Maybe that's on Bendis, as the only action is our heroes magically bypassing a trip that took them eight days in AU #4 then getting their asses handed to them by Ultron skulls.

The first half's slow sizzle made this one of the best issues in the crossover, totally switching up the pace, raising the stakes and rooting the story in the past while still pointing it toward the future… There are plenty of neato moments, but the idea of Pym turning around to find a strange little feral man spitting accusations and popping "snikts" excites my inner 12-year-old. I'm a fan of this brand of culture shock. Normally, the dynamic is portrayed from the opposite side, that is, a main character receiving a visit from the mysterious agent of the future. This time we follow the agent and it helps he's one of the best characters to ever get the pencil and ink treatment. 

 

 

Shawn: Too bad it wasn't Hitch's pen and ink. Though I did like the big splash where Giant-Man was all like, "I got this!" only to find bigger doesn't mean much against a feral little indestructible beast.

 

Age of Ultron #6

 

Sean: Pym's confidence was completely justified. There were absolutely no slingshots in sight. I totally get why he thought he had the upper hand.

I'll concede to you guys that the art does seem a bit sloppy. Especially the panel layout-- though I don't think either of the artists are to blame for that-- but I really think Pacheco did a great job with the past scenes. I don't think Hitch could have elicited the same feeling that the less realistic style of the past does. Of course, I did miss him in UltroNY because we mostly just saw destroyed buildings in earlier issues and didn't really get to see much of his techno robotic cityscapes. I guess I'm just not sure whether I'm getting a sense of sloppiness from these awkward story beats or just the flip-flopping between the two artists.

Another thing about the two artists that I'd like to admit is that if I hadn't read the credits, I might not have noticed the difference between the two guys. I'm just not sure if the idea of past/future and Pacheco/Peterson is clear enough. Perhaps if they had kept Hitch on for the future scenes, the art differences would have been more striking, and the panel layouts would have stood out more. As it stands, the ink and color had to pick up the slack, which as mentioned earlier, really saved the feel of the issue.

 

 

Shawn: You're right, they could have gone even more retro for the past. They sort of did with the art swipes for the tie-in story (and also with some interesting Marvel-specific ripples of the butterfly effect), but that left the main issue feeling a little slight. Grim fates in the future and the past, but we're still no closer to a head-on (sorry!) meeting with Ultron himself. This issue definitely continued the decompressed feeling of the storytelling.

 

 

Jamil: I can't argue with that much. More happens here than the preceding issues, but there's still a lot of posturing and near-needless banter. We've said it before, it's a Bendis comic so this shouldn't be a shock. 

I'm fine with the pace now, I'm at peace with it, and the fact that this issue switches up the entire game makes it a good read. The event started as a disaster movie and has moved into a time-travel story. In some earlier reviews we wondered how this storyline came to be, since it does seem like Marvel started building a Victorian mansion then decided halfway through to go with a high-level duplex. There was an AR from last issue that shed some light on that. Seems our general hunch was right, this started as a Hitch-specific project that had an indefinite ending (probably due to Marvel NOW!), Bryan Hitch got mad because he felt he was misled about the length and left to do creator-owned stuff, and the second half of this has been molded specifically for the latest wave of changes and status quo switch-ups. Shit, (a) Star-Lord is on the cover of next issue. When Hitch started drawing the first issue no one knew who that dude was. 

Time-travel, dimension jumping, that gets my attention. Bendis did not miss the opportunity to give us a moment I'm not sure we've ever seen, Hank's "ah-ha" moment in regard to creating artificial intelligence. Who knew it was Dragon Man's fault? I really dug that peek into the mind of Pym circa Avengers #41 (Buscema's first issue!). You guys had issues with how Bendis was portraying the Scientist Supreme, how well do you think he did when he finally got his hands on the character? 

 

 

Shawn: Well, I was being frivolous above about their confrontation, but I think Bendis actually went to the core of both characters when future Wolverine met past Giant-Man. He seemed to be referring to the way Angel in the X-Men (another tall blonde jock-type) first thought about Logan, that he was a grubby little creep. Angel thought his big beautiful wings could save him from everything (having not yet met the Morlocks or Pocky-Lips), and Giant-Man had the tendency to feel bigger was so much better. The only Pym persona that would have had a chance against Wolvie was Yellowjacket, and if you're right about the issue no., then Wolvie was about two years too early to have to face Hank's sneakiest side. I don't generally feel Bendis' handle on science is any better than his attempts at magic, but the plot elements in this issue made sense from scene to scene. I also liked how the final choice was really up to Sue, not Wolverine, and she was thinking both rationally and emotionally. That's how she was able to keep up with the boys from the start, that sort of mental balancing act.

 

 

Sean: The fact that Wolvie and Sue are time traveling together is probably my favorite part about the whole experience. It reminds me of Marvel Two-in-One or Brave & the Bold. Two superpowered beings who are heroes for extremely different reasons, but in the end, they agree on what needs to be done. 

Having said that, if I was being picky, I would say that Sue would have picked up a tad more responsibility when it comes to time traveling and its consequences from her time with Reed. Then again, I'm pretty sure Reed completely disregarded any notion of subtlety in manipulating time in a recent issue of Fantastic Four.

I guess this issue did it for us in a lot of different ways, but the important part is that we haven't lost hope yet. I mean, the issue as a whole might have had some problems, but the showdown between Hank and Logan has probably been the most entertaining part of this whole series for me. I just hope that the next couple of issues can use this newfound momentum to tie some threads together instead of just letting everything hang and fray at the edges. With the knowledge that the second half of the series is going to be involving more Marvel NOW! continuity as well as bringing in even more characters (from Star Lord to Angela and time-altered heroes in between) I cross my fingers in hopes that things don't end in a messy cluster.

Of course, sometimes a messy cluster can be fun too. As long as it's drawn well.

 

TIE-IN TIE-UP

 

Wolverine and the X-Men #27AU

(Matt Kindt, Paco Medina, Jaun Vlasco, David Curiel, Rochelle Rosenberg; Marvel)


 

Marvel has a rich history of team-ups. Marvel-Team Up, Super Villain Team-Up, Marvel Two-In-One, Deadpool Team-Up, Superior Spider-Man Team-Up , some title called A+X...We love 'em and they keep making 'em.

 

 

If you enjoyed the unlikely team-up in the pages of Age of Ultron #6 then this tie-in comic is for you. Set during the event of the issue, Susan Richards and Weapon X's nifty new (old) ride breaks down and it leads them to an underground SHIELD bunker for spare parts.

Writer Matt Kindt, doing grand things in the Dark Horse ongoing Mind MGMT, steps in on Wolverine and the X-Men #27AU and produces a quality story about two distinct, ultra recognizable characters who have no business operating in the same room, let alone engaging in a vendetta partnership. Instead of trying to bring these characters together through some type of contrived connection Kindt writes each according to the demands of the core storyline. Amazingly, this is both a good Logan story and a good Sue story. Their separate paths conclude with developments that inform the end of AU #6, which makes it acceptable supplemental material for anyone enjoying the hell out of this event.

 

 

Paco Medina is one of my favorite under-the-radar artists and he displays why here. The tight, efficient style fosters more range than you'd expect. The art is buoyant, but doesn't' detract from the somber mood. In fact the creative choices fall in line with Pacheco's work in the core title. It's clean and big with nothing to hide.

This is arguably the best tie-in so far. My colleagues reviewed two great "street level" offerings last week, and this goes in a way different direction and extrapolates a memorable story from a compelling partnership. Although it has nothing to do with Jason Aaron's main series that "Strangest Heroes of Them All" vibe is alive and kicking.

 

 

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