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Another View: Age of Ultron #10 Part 09

I’ve been thinking about the duplicate Wolverine and Sue Richards and how, maybe, they’re still around and we just haven’t hit the point in time that they came back to. After all, it’s unclear when the events of Age of Ultron happened exactly. It was just a vague “At some point that’s maybe now or sometime after now… maybe…?” Actually, there’s only one clear piece of evidence that indicates when the post-apocalyptic events of Age of Ultron happen: Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

Right now, Dr. Octopus is in Peter Parker’s body, but, if the news leaks from yesterday and that Humberto Ramos Amazing Spider-Man preview cover of the next Marvel free preview book thing that Ken, the guy who owns the shop I buy comics at, will put in my bag in a few months when it comes out is to be believed, Peter Parker is coming back soon. His mind-brain will be in his body-person once again and he will no longer be superior, he’ll simply be amazing. Or spectacular. (Mmmmmmmmmmmaybe sensational.) Given that it’s unlikely that Age of Ultron presented an alternate present to what we were reading at the time – though, imagine a world where that happened instead of Avengers vs. X-Men and, perhaps, Logan wouldn’t have been so quick to want to kill Hank Pym, right? RIGHT? – that would suggest that it was the future. A future that no longer exists thanks to Brian Michael Bendis rewriting Avengers #12.1 Age of Ultron #0.

Put two and two together and we’re clearly entering the time period of Age of Ultron where, one day, Peter Parker will wake up and not have to cope with a robot invasion that he’s very ill-equipped to handle. That’s when Logan and Sue came back to, all teary eyed and world weary and ready to sleep for millennium. Which means, we’re coming up on a story where those two show up and, boom, that’s how Wolverine can die and yet not die. Ultron’s defeat made Logan mortal, but thank god we have a spare from an alternate future where Ultron only killed everyone who wasn’t named Logan! Retailers, order that issue by the gross! It will come in a foil-covered Polybag of variant colours! Collect ‘em all!

This is all pure speculation, of course. I mean, we did see that Logan’s reality shatter at time ‘broke,’ meaning that he possibly ‘broke,’ too. Unless it was a metaphor for the mental anguish he suffered in seeing Ultron’s forces kill the world, travel back in time to kill Hank Pym, have moral debates with Sue Richards, get stopped by himself, kill himself (see, he’s already out-lived one Wolverine!), negotiate with Pym to save the world, and travel back to his future to see that he saved the fucking world and boy is he tired. That’s bound to take a lot out of you and would sure make you not want to run a school for crazy teenagers anymore. It may make you want to hunt down yourself who, in losing his healing factor, has turned evil as the Logan we all know in present continuity is supposed to be doing. Before he dies. AT THE HANDS OF HIMSELF, BECAUSE WE’RE ENTERING THE AGE OF AGE OF ULTRON WOLVERINE AND INVISIBLE WOMAN.

Boom.

12 Comments

Actually, it was clearly established (at least in the Tie-In books) that Otto was the Superior Spider-Man during Age of Ultron.

Bendis didn’t write it, I didn’t read it, I don’t care.

Yeah, as we discussed earlier that was just part of Marvel’s attempt to make it seem like Age of Ultron MIGHT be happening in current continuity, which Bendis eventually makes clear in the actual story of Age of Ultron that it was not. So Otto couldn’t have been the Spidey in Age of Ultron, despite him being Spider-Man in the Superior Spider-Man AoU tie-in. It reminds me of how DC didn’t really follow Morrison’s cues on Final Crisis, either, although I imagine a lot of it was Bendis just not caring about what people did in their tie-in issues so long as he had control over his issues.

The Dark Knight

January 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Plus isnt the catacylsm thing thats happening in the ultimate books a direct result of Age of Ultron?

When you get to part 10, you should create some kind of time loop and circle back to part 1, which you release the next day. Ad infinium.

Yannick Lamarre

January 10, 2014 at 5:03 am

And didn’t the time quake thing affect Star lord in the early issues of Guardians of the Galaxy? That’s Bendis written and current continuity (pre-infinity) anyway…

Wait. Are you saying that the AoU event was not coordinated enough to at least keep Spider-Man’s mental identity consistent among the various books?

No wonder books sell so poorly these days. It makes one wonder if they even have editors anymore.

I don’t buy this one, not least because so much of the trend in current Big Two superhero comics is really “Death of the Epic” kinds of stuff, where personal visions by writers-as-auteurs tends to sabotage the shared universe/mega-crossover model. The last few Marvel Events — Infinity, Age of Ultron, AvX, and Fear Itself — run smack into this problem, since they need to have Big Consequences for lots of books, but are written by folks who mostly want to present their ideas (and politics) via focused character studies.

It’s been a poor fit most of the time, but interestingly Age of Ultron and Siege have been relatively successful, because in the former case the coordination across titles was done well thanks to years of careful setup where writers’ perspectives on the big picture had gotten established well ahead of time. In the latter case, as Brian notes, it seems to be that AoU was carefully isolated from pretty much all non-Bendis books in its core storyline and effects. It’s mostly a bridge between his Avengers and X-Men, as well as a way to develop the coda to the Ultimate Universe Bendis developed. (Guardians of the Galaxy has been similarly shuffled into a quiet corner; notice how the cosmic book ended up having next to nothing to do with Hickman’s cosmic Infinity crossover.)

As an A-X bridge, it’s a far more successful one than AvX, which was maybe the perfect example of how the auteur theory of writers runs up against shared-universe aesthetics.There, plot points anreven character beats seemed to be dropped between the rotating writers who had their own goals to accomplish, to the point that major plot events and key explanations seemed to happen mostly off the page of any comic. If Cyclops’s revolution in the current Uncanny seems rather under thought, it’s because pretty much all of the Phoenix Utopia other than “smash leftover Sentinels” was left unseen during AvX; this was probably to avoid the messiness off explaining how you “end all war” in say, the Middle East or Sub-Saharan Africa without pissing off half your real-world readers. That’s the central tension in writing a utopian plotline, and the writers chickened out. It would also have given the Avengers more of a point and made Cyclops a more ambivalent figure for the readers, which may also be why all of this was avoided.

But AoU is a story about how big visions collapse; as I noted below, that outs it on surer ground for Bendis, as it’s his favored theme, and it means that the story can get some meta-message mileage out of deliberately ignoring or confuting the whole shared-0universe aspect of a crossover ins ays even AoU’s spiritual predecessor, House of M, could not. (It had to revolutionize the entire X-Men line, for one thing.) AoU’s use of alternate and broken timelines, it’s deliberate sundering of the established time-travel rules, starts to look like Bendis declaring he’s not going to be bothered with anything he’s noir interested in writing. That’s good and bad; on the one hand, it carves out a space for individualist writerly visions; not he downside, it plays into Bendis’s particular tendency towards sloppy plot mechanics in which the start point and end point are well-defined, but the way we got from A to B is a shaky mess.

The other, probably unintended meta-message has to do with the apparent fact that AoU and a whole lot of these other auteur-writer runs around the same time are actually truncated, rescheduled, or displaced versions of auteur superhero writing shoved around by the plans for the Marvel Now! reshuffle. Go back to the period before AvX and then the period right after it and you can see a lot of plot lines being aborted or compressed. It hits the lats couple of arcs of Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man pretty hard; in pacing and plotting, they’re noticeably rushed, because they need to end with a restored Tony Stark jetting off into space for Marvel Now!. Similarly, Bendis’s ongoing distrusted Avengers/New Dark Avengers/Super-Agents of HYDRA plot line was hurried towards a conclusion and, based on HYDRA’s appearances in Bendis’s X-Men work and Hickman’s positioning of AIM, probably just plain dropped for the time being,

OF course, the irony is that the great reshuffle has been all about singular writerly visions being applied to different properties, whether it’s Hickman taking over Avengers, Bendis taking over the X-line, or Rick Remender pulling in his favored themes with A-list, Bright ‘N’ Shiny characters rather than the disreputable black-ops sneaks of X-Force, Venom, and Secret Avengers. Marvel Now is less a line0-wide event than a curious commitment to the idea of auteurs in bubbles; Rick Remender can do a big time-travle story without worrying too much about what’s broken or not, and kills loads of characters knowing that he just needs to give other writers a fig leaf to ignore it. Bendis, for his port, can have HYDRA suddenly a mere terror organization and pretend that Thanos didn’t just invade the planet if he wants to.

The visible compartmentalization of Marvel Now probably diminishes the likelihood of Alt-Logan popping up to derail Paul Cornell’s Wolverine plot line. But editorial events will nonetheless continue to pop in disruptively and rewrite the established plans; that’s what AoU is secretly about, in the end. The only way forward for a writer of distinct sensibilities and storytelling goals is to quickly pass over the paradox of working with the Big Picture and get back to business, continuities and crossovers be damned.

Is the question “when did the END of AoU happen?” or “when did Ultron’s invasion happen?”?

I mean, it seems like the Timequake happened contemporaneous with the Marvel books being published at the time, particularly since we got images of things happening in then-current Marvel which were obviously caused by the timequake. The “shattering” scene showed Hulk running through the timestream, Spidey 2099 going back in time, I forget what else, but they clearly linked to the Marvel U of 2013. My assumption on reading the issue is that Wolverine and Sue took the time machine to just prior to Avengers #12.1 to give Hank his own message, then travelled further ahead to when AoU should have started or shortly after and, hooray, found it hadn’t happened. (I assume this is also the point to which they traveled in #7, but found the Age of LeFay instead.)

What I *am* hyper-confused about is why, upon killing Hank in #6, modern Wolverine and Sue didn’t turn into Age of LeFay Wolverine and Sue. They arrive and find another Wolverine running around, and AoL Sue is impliedly off in space somewhere. My understanding is that Marvel is now going with “Looper” or “Back to the Future” time-travel rules: a change to your past affects your future self, so if you cut off your past self’s hand, future you suddenly loses a hand. I understand that this happened during “Battle of the Atom”–past Cyclops’ heart briefly stopped, so present Cyclops briefly disappeared. So the additional Wolverines running around in issues #7-9 really don’t make any sense in light of what Marvel and Bendis himself later established.

Wait. Are you saying that the AoU event was not coordinated enough to at least keep Spider-Man’s mental identity consistent among the various books?

It was not that it wasn’t coordinated. Bendis knew it was Peter. Everyone else knew it was Peter. They just wanted to have a Superior Spider-Man tie-in without saying “Oh, by the way, Age of Ultron all takes place in the past” because they didn’t want to concede that until the storyline actually ended. So they had a few tie-in issues where it was as if Age of Ultron was taking place in the present (Otto is Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four are on their trip away from the planet, etc.). I guess it was seen as a necessary evil. But it wasn’t like Marvel editorial did not know what the deal was.

But it wasn’t like Marvel editorial did not know what the deal was.

Again, this was also a plot line Bendis had set up well before Marvel Now! happened; I can see editorial not caring much about Spider-Man being “non-current” under the circumstances as long as the big stuff got set up. And as you’ve noted in the past, it makes it easier to runt he series as a TPB perennial. I really think hat tension between “it’s a line wide crossover” and “it’s a story this creator wants to tell to cap off his run on this book” is especially pronounced in AoU, to the point that I see that tension as central to the story itself.

I don’t think there is any evidence that clearly shows its actually Peter in AoU…it could simply be Otto playing the role of Peter Parker well enough to dupe everyone, I mean he still had Pete’s memories at that point and most of the Avengers don’t know his identity anyway.

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