SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Judging from comments, I feel like I should explain how I view the events of Age of Ultron #10 in more detail, specifically when the issue (and series) take place and what that means for my somewhat sarcastic post from yesterday.
Firstly, I don’t presume that the ‘timequake’ that occurs in issue 10 is localised to a specific moment in time. The concept of it suggests a ‘breaking’ that spreads throughout time. The images that we see are of six people, at least three in different times: Star-Lord, Hank Pym, and Blackbeard Thing. I could argue that Wolverine is in a fourth time period, but that’s not as objective. Pym is in the period covered by Avengers #12.1 that is reexplored/rewritten in Age of Ultron #10, which happens in the past of when Star-Lord is when the ‘timequake’ hits him during the current Guardians of the Galaxy series. Blackbeard Thing is clearly not in the present, adding a third time period. Iron Man and Ultimate Spider-Man are not presented distinctly enough to pinpoint when we are seeing them (presumably, Stark is in the same time period as Pym and Ultimate Spider-Man is in the present, which is close to the same time as Star-Lord). But, whatever, that doesn’t matter. We have enough evidence to show that the ‘timequake’ isn’t limited to one time period, meaning that it has no bearing on when Age of Ultron #10 happens. (Though, the explosion/shattering of time showing numerous images from Marvel Now books seems less based in a specific time period and more in a variation on the recent trend of comics giving teaser images of what’s to come over the next year.)
So, that out of the way, here’s how I see it:
1. The opening scene, the repurposed pages of Avengers #12.1, and the rewritten follow-up scene take place, obviously, during the events of that issue, which came out just before Fear Itself. The first page also provides the only reference to when the issue takes place: “Some months ago.” In the opening scene, we see the Sue Richards that travelled back in time with Wolverine to stop Ultron.
2. The two pages where that Sue and Logan arrive in New York via Nick Fury’s flying car takes place at roughly the same time as the events of the first half of Age of Ultron, which is some point in the future. (Yesterday, I half-joked that that future is what the Marvel Universe is soon entering because Peter Parker is Spider-Man in Age of Ultron, not Otto Octavius. As was pointed out, some tie-in comic(s) had Octavius as Spider-Man; as I responded, Brian Michael Bendis didn’t write that comic and I only read the actual Age of Ultron series. I tend to have a fairly narrow view of events in that I usually only read the comics written by the writer of the main series, ignoring the rest (unless it’s a comic I’m already reading or is written by someone whose work I really like, like, say, Secret Invasion: Thor, written by Matt Fraction when the only other Secret Invasion comics I read were written by Bendis). So, my views on Age of Ultron are 100% based on the Bendis-penned series. The tie-ins do not exist in my world and citing them is irrelevant.) This is the future, because we never saw the events of Age of Ultron in present continuity (aside from those tie-ins that don’t really count). While it’s possible that the series would happen with us seeing the rewritten continuity simultaneously (and without explicitly being stated as such), it seems unlikely somehow. Since the series seems to take place in the future of the ‘present’ (aka the time when the series was being released), Sue and Logan would travel to that future time to verify that they succeeded in stopping Ultron. Their New York is still there; they won.
3. The ‘timequake’ spreads across time.
4. Pym, Stark, and the Beast discuss what happened. The Beast, oddly, has his pre-secondary mutation appearance, suggesting (inaccurately) that this takes place prior to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. This scene seems to take place shortly after the defeat of Ultron ‘some months ago.’
5. A series of epilogue teasers plant seeds for stories that will be published after Age of Ultron #10, showing three consequences of the ‘timequake’ that was not limited to a specific time or reality.
Not a lot of this is made explicit. Only the teasers and the take down of Ultron are specifically locked down in time periods. Technically, the Pym/Stark teaser doesn’t need to be a ‘present’ scene either. It could either be a scene from shortly after Ultron’s defeat or even a scene shortly after Bendis’s final Avengers story where Pym helped rescue the Wasp.
Part of me finds all of this ambiguity fitting for an issue where time ‘breaks.’ Maybe none of it is as clearly defined as I’m arguing. Maybe it bleeds together and jumps around, put back together in the wrong order.
Then again, Age of Ultron #1 tells us that the story takes place “Today,” so who knows.
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