It’s been four months since the last comic book event and I’m sure there’s at least one person out there shuddering in a cold sweat, waiting for their next fix. Thanks to Marvel Comics the wait is over, as writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Bryan Hitch join forces to pit Ultron against the X-Men, Avengers and the whole lot of the Marvel universe. The story has come out of nowhere with no ties to current series and Bryan Hitch has openly spoken that he’s done with Marvel, which is two strikes on this series before you even open it. That can’t bode well…is it good?
Age of Ultron #1 (of 10) (Marvel Comics)
Hitch is the the second creator to have lambasted Marvel in the last 6 months (the last being Greg Rucka), largely because his creative control has been reduced over the years. Falling out of favor was made worse when Age of Ultron was delayed to the point where the entire series is finished; a rarity in the double shipping days of comic book shipping. Even with all this bad blood though, the first issue of the series comes off without a hitch (pun intended), which is drawn beautifully and sets up an event that’s more epic than we’ve come to expect from Marvel.
The opening panel. Doesn’t look good for the heroes.
The book opens “today” and Ultron has already conquered New York City. It appears he’s built giant dome-like structures ala Blade Runner in the middle of Manhattan; the sky is blotted out and rubble lies everywhere. There is relatively no plot to speak of in this issue and you really only learn that the heroes are in a bad place. Villains like Hammerhead do Ultron’s bidding. The entire issue really only encompasses Hawkeye’s retrieval of Spider-Man from the clutches of some villains. Considering the pace of the first issue, Age of Ultron might be a very long series indeed.
In most cases a universe-spanning event in comics requires a month or two of setup from the regular series. The entire point of an event is to bring the heroes together in one massive story, but it’s also a way to create a resounding change once the event is over. Considering this story has absolutely no setup it’s a bit different from previous events. I for one found this opening issue a little annoying, especially considering it comes out of nowhere. Marvel probably could have held onto this story for years and published it whenever. We may eventually find out how it ties into what we know about Marvel today, but because there is no setup it comes off a little cheap. They say if you use flashbacks or tell a story out of order you’re cheating the story, as it’s a cheap and easy way to deliver drama. The way this series reads so far—only one issue, I know—it reads a little cheap, but I’m holding out hope that the 10 issues will effectively tell the story.
I’m unsure but…did the bad guys make Spidey take drugs?
You, your friends and every critic under the sun are going to be talking about one thing after reading this issue: the art. This is Hitch’s show and we’re just here to witness it. The man knows how to draw rubble (I mean just look at his run on Ultimates), and there are enough epic widescreen shots of rubble in this book to satiated any rubble fanatic. Unfortunately, rubble and rubble alone a compelling comic does not make. But hey, it’s jaw-dropping to say the least. Action works well too and the composition of the pages lends nicely to the chaotic sequence of this issue. The only quibble I could find with his work in this issue are faces when they aren’t close up and an annoying use of blur that spans two full pages. Aside from that it’s incredibly clear its his work that will be remembered over any writing.
The “heroes” aren’t so friendly anymore.
Bendis haters will do well to know there isn’t much dialogue here. There isn’t much of anything really, as it’s only one sequence and a twist that’s not too hard to believe. The heroes are down, depressed and at their wits’ end. You’ll finish this book thinking, “I get it already, the heroes lost…give me more!”
Considering Spider-Man’s banter, is this Peter Parker or SpOck?
- Epic art is epic
- Decent premise
- No story to speak of
- Awkward faces
Those who will be sold on this series will say they love it due to the premise. Who wouldn’t like a Terminator style debris-filled world, only instead of rebel John Connor you get superheroes? That said, this first issue doesn’t do much beyond expressing the fact that the heroes are down on their luck. The action is taught, but you’ll be left wanting more. Essentially this is an intro to an event that doesn’t do anything beside deliver that first five minute action scene in the opening minutes. If you’re looking for story or character you’ve come to the wrong place. That isn’t to say I won’t pick up the next issue, but this issue can easily be skipped without missing a beat.
Is It Good?
Nope. Once you realize art isn’t everything this is a rather underwhelming introduction.