Real Talk: 'Age of Ultron' #9 Has Us Guessing How This Thing Is Even Going to EndA comic review article by: Shawn Hill, Jamil Scalese, Sean Gonzalez
Shawn: So the most pivotal moment of this series wasn't in any of the Hitch issues (as beautiful as they were). And it wasn't really about the ultimate destruction of America (which is apparently inevitable, in whatever form, be the cause robots or witches). Instead it was about a moral decision, a crucial action that once taken, can never be revoked. Probably. Unless you do it right. Because you have to. Maybe. Bendis is all about phutzing the lines when it comes to magic and science, but in this series the dominance of either leads to destruction. And what staves off destruction. The simple possibility of a human choice to do the right thing.
Jamil: Beautiful stuff, Shawn. How the fuck am I supposed to follow that?
I had big worries that issue #9 would be watered down, merely a bunch of pages biding time for the conclusion. This issue brings things full circle, and actually works as a false ending to the whole series. I'm not saying it doesn't suffer from the same spaced-out quality that has haunted the event (I mean they literally reuse an entire page from a previous issue), but it packs thematic punch.
I liked how in trying to escape a devastated New York infested with androids NYC Wolverine finds himself in the same place, shredding through a pair of Doombots. Everyone is dead and the situation is hopeless. What else is there to do but time travel?
After ignoring a warning from (half a) Stark, our friend Logan rewinds to Age of Ultron #6 and has a chat with himself about being himself. I loved the throwback costume, and the conversation with Pym could prove to be pivotal, we'll see about that in the coming weeks, months and years.
Sean: Kinda thought this ish was hilarious. The fact that Wolverine has such a hard time listening to anyone just tickles my funny bone. Also, watching Wolvie regrow from bones is always a treat. Then there's the confusion in the lab battle, with Pym being completely dumbfounded. Of course, it's a tad awkward when you consider that he was about to be murdered. Lastly, after all the build up, the first time we actually come in contact with Ultron Prime is it's classic version, which honestly looks like a cross between a Dalek and the scary
furnace from Home Alone.
Still, I can agree that this did a good job winding things down, despite leaving little forewarning for the next issue.
Quick question: Is it just me, or does it look like Pym didn't get a chance to set up Ultron the way everyone discussed?
Jamil: Actually, and I'm no Marvel expert like Shawn (or even Paul Brian McCoy), Bendis uses Roy Thomas' dialogue verbatim! I agree that this issue did have an underlying humor to it. There is something too awesome, and kinda lame, about Ultron's first words being "Want da-da."
Shawn: Bendis' ability to homage Marvel's past has definitely gotten better as of late. His delving into the original X-Men, his commitment to figuring out time travel and magic, they've made this series surprisingly interesting and even subtle to me. The coolest thing about the issue was how the much ballyhooed cover image didn't mean what it seemed to mean, once you'd read the story itself. I wasn't as onboard with his dithering Sue this issue, as she seems a little less effective than in previous issues. But, maybe all the repeat time travel loops are messing with everyone's heads. Certainly it was a surprise to have 616b Tony say anything at all rational after the raving of previous issues.
Jamil: Well, you knew they just had to wedge in that foreboding warning as to set up the next event or crossover, or whatever. "We're not alone in the universe." Yeah, no shit, Stark, a whole bunch of downed spaceships litter Antarctica.
Is it blasphemous to say I enjoyed Peterson/Pacheco's art maybe a little more than the Hitch issues? I love the duality of their styles, with Peterson doing as good as job as Bryan Hitch evoking that foreboding, everything is lost feeling, and Pacheco, a guy who grew up reading Silver Age Marvel comics, bringing the heat in the flashback scenes. We've seen this combo before, but it's just a bit more polished in Age of Ultron #9. The script has an element of hopelessness and hopefulness that definitely shows up in the art.
Shawn: Not blasphemous at all, I agree. We didn't get what we expected in this series, but I think it's a case of getting what we needed instead. The time-lost adventure doesn't have the ambitious scope of something like Avengers Forever, but its tighter focus has been a big plus. Plus I've been re-reading my Essential Avengers Vol. 3 to double-check all the Ultron stuff, and so far, so good.
Sean: My problem with the Pacheco/Peterson mixing in earlier issues basically stemmed from the scripting problems. I just didn't think they utilized the two styles well enough. By now, it looks like they figured out a comfortable balance you mentioned. It definitely shows better than it did when random panels were thrown willy nilly through the pages.
Despite not having a grand scope, I still have doubts that Bendis can wrap everything up as neatly as we might hope. I have a wary feeling we'll have to follow the number of comics that are born out of this series for any actual closure. This bodes well for Marvel, but it doesn't really speak for Bendis' storytelling abilities. I can also see a number of fans being turned off.
Jamil: They did warn us this crossover would be a little different from the previous ones, and we've discussed that at length. Other than the arrival of Angela, and maybe some type of crossover with the Ultimate Universe, I'm not too sure what to expect from the finale.
TIE-IN TIE UP
Uncanny Avengers #8AU
(Rick Remender, Gerry Duggan, Adam Kubert, Frank Martin Jr.)
Jamil: Here are the final tie-ins of Marvel's springtime event and jeez, wow, oh man did they save some of the best for last. These two issues dive in the crevices of 616b and somehow both feature Callisto. Sean Gonzalez will take a look at Fearless Defenders #4AU, and right now I team up with Shawn Hill to tackle what I consider the best crossover issue so far.
Shawn, simple and to the point: Uncanny Avengers is very likely my favorite title on the stands. After a sluggish, though still very good, start this title has taken over the magic generated by Uncanny X-Force and upped the quality with every installment. It's got three big-time villains, a cast of fan-favorite heroes stoked in history, crackling character interaction and a weaving plot that looks to be a whopper of a time-travel story. It's the antithesis of decompressed comics; by the time I get to the staples I feel like I've read two trades worth of Bendis stories.
As much as I love my stories chock full of continuity, plot and time-based superpowers the inherent problem is Remender's style sometimes moves too fast when the situation calls for a little more breathing room. That's why Uncanny Avengers #8AU serves as the perfect compliment to both the ongoing and the crossover. It masterfully mixes elements of both, adding depth to each series that the main books don't allow. Fleshing out the Apocalypse Twins wasn't necessary but they did just kinda appear from nowhere to kick copious amount of ass. Kang is a punk!
Shawn: I won't deny this issue looks great, but it was as convoluted and overworked as some of the lesser issues of AvX! Major melodrama, many deaths, unlikely juxtapositions and alliances. While I do think it read true to Remender's work on Warren's seduction by Apocalypse, it was another trip down Morlocks Lane, and all those battles in the sewers are always so grim. It's also about the corruption of an innocent (similar to the current Thanos Rising story), and those can easily read as clichéd. While I admire the attempt to wed the ongoing plotline with the alternate world of 616b, it was a lot to pack into one issue and risked preventing any emotional identification with the characters for me.
Jamil: I will admit that the alternate versions Cap, Havok and Rogue are a little less interesting than their main universe counterparts. I guess I really loved the focus on the villains, especially the siblings, and the general ingenuity of the plot, specifically Kang using 616b as a gameland to have the twins sharpen their combat skills
I also attribute my love for this to the creative team, which is a near dream team of artists I like. I've already proclaimed my undying love of Remender, Duggan (along with co-writer Brian Posehn) has found his stride on Deadpool, I'm pretty big Kubert fan (though after Flashpoint I prefer Andy) and I consider Frank Martin Jr to be one of the best color artists in the biz. A conflux of my favorite creators means I have to like or I'm a hypocrite, right?
If you don't read both Uncanny Avengers and Age of Ultron it's probably not a great issue, but it's you happen to follow both I believe that this is a can't miss.
Shawn: It didn't miss, it just didn't hit very hard for me. You know what I buy the least is Mr. and Mrs. Havoc and Rogue. Those two just don't seem a likely pairing, in any reality. I understood where the story was going, but I just felt disconnected from most of the action.
Jamil: Havok and Rogue as a couple did seem a little forced, but I've seen more unlikely couples in real life so I can let it go. Proximity and circumstance are more Cupid-like than I think we'd like to admit. With that said I'm all about seeing Cap and Scarlet Witch hook up! That'd be kind of rad.
Shawn: We could have if she'd survived, but then she'd have been able to take on Morgana herself, I suppose. I agree, I had no problem at all with the idea of Cap being her widower. They were flirting with a relationship before Disassembled, and it still makes sense to me now. Cap was the hero of this tale for me, I think I just wish it was more than one issue so Remender could have really fleshed out some of his 616b ideas.
Fearless Defenders #4AU
(Cullen Bunn, Phil Jimenez, Karl Kesel, Antonio Fabela)
Sean: Another issue that makes us want to stick around in 616b! I honestly don't know what Marvel's plan was. I don't think I've ever been teased so hard about an entire universe before...
Besides the usual bemoaning that I won't get to spend more time with The Defenders of this world, I gotta say this issue was fun. Jimenez really outdid himself on something that doesn't really play into the main Age of Ultron thread or even the main Fearless Defenders series. Of course, there are a number of familiar faces (even some who I haven't seen since the last time I saw Amazons in the Marvel universe), but we mostly follow around Artemis who has been showing off her spunky attitude back in Fearless' main run.
The big, and most entertaining, difference being that Ares is tossed into the fray. As fun as it is to see Ares back with the living, there's an elaborate backstory involving Amazonian betrayal, evil sorceress marriages, and multiple familial arguments that run on and prove unnecessary. I'm pretty sure that if you put the queen of the Amazons in a room along with the God of War, you won't have to come up with too many reasons for them to start beating each other up.
Despite not doing any actual harm, I'd consider skipping this one if you're regularly following Fearless Defenders and don't care for a red herring. On the other hand, if you're a fan of Jimenez and his interpretations of masses of warrior women, jump on in.
Follow along with Age of Ultron with our other Real Talk reviews:
- Age of Ultron #1
- Age of Ultron #2
- Age of Ultron #3 (w/ Superior Spider-Man #6AU and Fantastic Four #5AU)
- Age of Ultron #4
- Age of Ultron #5 (w/ Avengers Assemble #14AU and Ultron #1AU)
- Age of Ultron #6 (w/ Wolverine and the X-Men #27AU)
- Age of Ultron #7
- Age of Ultron #8 (w/ Avengers Assemble #15AU)
- Age of Ultron #9 (w/ Uncanny Avengers #8AU and Fearless Defenders #4AU)
- Age of Ultron #10