Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Comics: Age of Ultron 1-3

Marvel's big event book is out: Age of Ultron.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has been building to this story for years.  For those who don't know, founding Avenger Ant-man (Hank Pym) once created a robot named Ultron.  But Ultron turned evil and has been trying to take over the world ever since.  And it would appear that Age of Ultron is the result.

The story begins after Ultron has already taken over the world.  New York and other cities are in ruins, with savage gangs roaming the desolation.  All the while hovering above them is the giant ship of Ultron.  Avenger Hawkeye stages a daring rescue of a captured Peter Parker, who is being held by the low-rent villain the Owl.  Apparently the Owl has some kind of deal with Ultron to deliver him super-powered people in exchange for free reign in NYC.

After the rescue, Spidey and Hawkeye meet up with what is left of the super-hero community.  They are not only scant in number but they are defeated in spirit.  And it is from this group that any kind of salvation must come.

Some reviewers complained about the slow pace of the book.  One said it was a 3 page story told across 22.  I disagree.  The beginning is so jarring, that it takes a little while to catch up.  The art by Bryan Hitch is beautiful.  It reminds me of his epic, cinematic take on the Ultimates a few years back.  Bendis' writing is also fairly sharp.  I actually like that he throws you into the middle of the story.  The good part about jumping ahead to Ultron's victory is that I knew every other reader was in the same boat with me.  I didn't feel like I had to have read the last 3 years of Avengers comics to understand what was going on.  It was a good jumping on point.

And the story has already had some very interesting twists which I will not spoil here.  The heroes are grasping at straws, but even those small threads give them enough hope to go on.  Bendis has also written some moments of great courage and sacrifice worthy of Marvel heroes.

While I am enjoying it, I am cautious.  My experience with Marvel is that they can deliver a strong opening to a book, but they can never quite close the deal on the ending.  Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, The Infinity Gauntlet all blow you away in the first few issues, and then then end on a sour note.  I hope that is not the case here.  So far, I am enjoying the read.

4 out of 5 stars.

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