By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco (Artist/Penciler), Roger Martinez (Inker), Paul Mounts, Jose Villarrubia (Colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer)
The Review: If you’ve read every issue of Age of Ultron up to this point you’ve probably been in one of two camps. You may have been growing increasingly impatient with Bendis’ glacial pacing, begrudgingly putting down your $3.99 week after week hoping each time that this will be issue to get things moving. Alternatively you’ve enjoyed it every step of the way, have withstood the downbeat and malevolent mood and savoured a Marvel event book that’s employed more substance than style. Either way it’s been a bumpy, expensive ride with few signs pointing to how, if at all, its outcome will impact on the wider Marvel Universe. Age of Ultron #6 signals the beginning of the end of this journey, and it might just have managed to keep everyone happy into the bargain.
It covers quite a lot of ground. Ostensibly it’s the natural progression from last month’s cliffhanger; Nick Fury and a handful of the more powerful Avengers head into the future to confront Ultron while Wolverine goes into the past to kill Hank Pym (thereby circumventing the whole Ultron problem in the first place). Admirably, this issue really jumps into both storylines head first and there’s immediate outcomes presented on each front. And when I say outcomes…I mean deaths.
You could probably have guessed that Fury’s camp would suffer the most casualties. The dude almost drops his team straight into the meat grinder after all as they move from the Savage Land direct to New York (even time-travelling genocidal robots want a piece of the Big Apple it seems). Now a gleaming technopolis devoid of human life, the city offers nothing but an ambush from thousands of flying Ultron heads and the Avengers are pretty much sitting ducks. They are, after all, just drifting in the wind thanks to Storm’s weather powers, and that can’t allow for much manoeuvrability. They get slapped around some and a major character literally loses his head – we may see a few Avengers captured and brought before a gloating Ultron before the series is up, but otherwise it looks like this particular plan has gone wronger than corduroy.
Wolverine fairs better, even if he has a tag-along: the Invisible Woman, acting here as Logan’s conscience, a voice of reason in opposition to his strictly murderous intent. They almost immediately get to finding Hank Pym and the confrontation quickly descends into violence with Wolverine proving once again why he’s the best there is at what he does, and Pym in shock from what is, to him, a bewilderingly unprovoked attack.
Susan Storm tries her best to argue against murdering Pym, and she’s a character perfectly placed to make that argument. She’s a member of Marvel’s first family, a core component of the magic team that kickstarted a whole heroic universe…and to her killing is just wrong; “There has to be a line we – we do not cross.” But in this act, under these circumstances, even she can see Wolverine’s point…
It’s a great issue. It’s full of action that serves the book’s sense of spectacle and underpinning the whole thing is an unexpectedly affecting rumination on that perrenial topic: whether or not heroes should kill. The shifting and displaced temporal elements add an interesting twist to this decades old conundrum, with current iterations of heroes bringing the grittier, more violent comic book tropes of modernity to bear on those of the past. It was something I posited may have been going on at the forefront of the last issue but Susan Storm and Wolverine’s exchanges in this instalment seem to address it head-on.
Art-wise? I’m happy enough. Carlos Pacheco takes care of the ‘past’ shenanigans and this is definitely my favourite section of the book. It’s brightly coloured by Jose Villarrubia and given a softer edge by Pacheco’s pencils which help convince of the scenes’ setting in a more innocent time. Plus, I Iove Pacheco’s Wolverine – a compact package of taut muscles and Clint Eastwood sneers. I’m not so enamoured with Brandon Peterson’s work on the ‘future’ element of the book however. He doesn’t do too bad overall but the odd fugly facial expression and the unconvincing spectacle of his aerial battleground left me missing Bryan Hitch a whole bunch. And so did this chapter’s noticeably more tepid depictions of violence. Yes, heads are decapitated and stabbed, but here it’s all done in silhouette with the gore left to the imagination whereas I’m sure Hitch would have given us severed vertebra and spurts of brain tissue…in a perfect world I’d have loved to have seen a Hitch/Pacheco team-up, but it’s a moot point. It’s certainly not a bad-looking book after all, though it does lack a little of the feel of the top-flight, cutting-edge visuals that usually accompany Marvel’s main event books.
Conclusion: For all its violence and diverting temporal hijinks Bendis has still managed to include enough depth in Age of Ultron to turn out a reasonably thought-provoking book. Better than that, this script is also a lean, mean, time-travelling machine, accomplishing much in its meagre page count and leaving the series in a terrific place – I have literally no idea what to expect next. The change in art may take some getting used to, but not the quality in storytelling; that I’ll take of much of as I can get.
Filed under: Marvel Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Age of Ultron, Brandon Peterson, Brian Michael Bendis, Captain America, Carlos Pacheco, Invisible Woman, Jose Villarrubia, Marvel, Marvel comic Reviews, Marvel Comics, New York, Nick Fury, Paul Mounts, Roger Martinez, Storm, Susan Storm, Time Travel, Ultron, VC's Cory Petit, Wolverine