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Another View: Age of Ultron #10 Part 22

The biggest mystery in Age of Ultron #10 is one that’s gone unsaid. It’s so weird and hard to notice that I didn’t really notice until this very evening. It’s flitted around the edges of my rereading of the comic, but never quite cohered. But, I’ve got ask: what happened to Moon Knight and the Protector in that final Ultron battle?

In the reused Bryan Hitch pages from Avengers #12.1, we see that Moon Knight and the Protector are part of the Avengers team that has rescued Spider-Woman from the Intelligencia. They don’t do much in the few panels they show up in, but they are there. However, neither one is seen at all in the Butch Guice-drawn pages. In the Age of Ultron #0.1 retcon, Spider-Woman is wearing her costume and two Avengers have disappeared. I noticed a while ago that the Protector isn’t in that scene, because I’ve found it funny that the final published appearance of Noh-Varr in that costume and identity is actually reused art. When looking for him, I realised that Moon Knight isn’t there as well. Simple artist oversight or something more meaningful?

The easy in-story explanation is that those two were never there. The ‘timequake’ where time ‘broke’ rippled back and simply removed them from that mission at the moment where the timeline differed. They’re clearly visible in the post-Ultron explosion wreckage in Avengers #12.1. In Age of Ultron, they’re simply not there anymore and no one seems to notice or care. Not even a “We could use that Kree superhero with the alien future tech to help us defeat this crazy robot!” from any of them. So, they were actually never there and no one remembers how events used to be (obviously).

Except, when I examine that first Guice panel, I can sort of make out their bodies. Moon Knight is barely visible and seems unconscious, while there’s a black and white figure that looks like he’s trying to get up, both on the upper platform. Of course, Moon Knight could be wreckage and the Protector could be… I don’t know, more wreckage or a shitty drawing…? Their absence is so weird, especially because of the blobby, not-at-all-detailed allusions to their visuals in that first panel. It seems like almost an afterthought that their semi-coloured shapes are there. It’s like they’re not. It only confirms the ‘timequake’ theory: in that panel, we see as they fade from reality, never really there. But, for what reason?

Moon Knight needs to disappear and never be there for his experiences with the Ultron head to make sense. If he was present for Ultron exploding and his head go flying, he would have probably mentioned that at some point during the Bendis/Maleev series. As a sequel to Age of Ultron, it needs Moon Knight to not actually encounter Ultron at all. It’s a subtle change that allows a comic already published to exist.

As for Noh-Varr, near as I can tell, Butch Guice probably just didn’t want to draw that awful costume. And who can blame him?

9 Comments

What’s fascinating about this version of what happened is that Bendis et al can claim that it’s not a “mistake” but a very important story element.

Even though it’s highly likely it’s just a mistake ;)

If it’s a timequake, does that mean Kilgore Trout is now part of Marvel continuity?

This is becoming like the All-Star Superman theory that Leo Quintum was Lex Luthor. The story can be read that way, but the author went on record saying it wasn’t true. Well, Bendis hasn’t gone on record here, but I do think the simplest explanation is that Guice just didn’t bother to draw Moon Knight or Protector in those panels.

Authorial intent is meaningless. All that matters is the work itself. At best, authorial intent is an interesting bit of trivia.

It is true that it’s never, ever occurred to me to wonder whatever happened to Moon Knight or the Protector. Not just regarding this comic, but in general.

I know that fallacy of authorial intent is a widely known theory, but isn’t it just one possible approach to a work? Bendis’s intentions for the events and direction of his own story may have no bearing on how you interpret the things you notice and the story you construct for yourself post hoc, but the unilateral statement of “the authors’s intentions are meaningless” always seems unnecessarily confrontational and borderline petulant.

I grant that you may have merely been responding to the one comment which could be seen as dismissive of your analysis, and that it is not a stone cold rule. I, however, never really felt that I understood the idea of the “fallacy”

What the author intends can be useful in a few ways, sure — primarily in determining how successful the author was at accomplishing what he or she set out to do. But, really, what the author intends should come through in the work. You shouldn’t need to know the intention, it should be apparent. Besides, you can’t trust what an author says about their work — or that they are aware of everything that they wound up saying with it. Also: people lie. You can’t trust what they say about the work to be true (if they say anything at all). Especially in the world of corporate superhero comics. So, I don’t put a lot of stock in authorial intent that I don’t find in the work.

So Chad, would author’s intent be meaningless in, say, the Mystery of Edwin Drood? I’m sure a lot of Drood fans would love it if Dickens’ lost journals turned up one day revealing his true intentions for the story. A lot of people would probably be disappointed as well, and some people probably have come up with better explanations than Dickens himself had. Still, if we knew his true intentions, wouldn’t that settle a lot of issues from a historical-literary standpoint?

The same issue would probably apply to the Bible–definitively knowing the authors’ intentions would settle a lot of debate about the meaning of disputed books and verses.

“So, I don’t put a lot of stock in authorial intent that I don’t find in the work.”

But if something comes off as ambiguous, but could be interpreted one way or another, then surely in that instance authorial intent would have some bearing on the overall conversation, even if it is not the final word on the subject.

Adam, there are some works where knowing the intent would be more useful than others, yes.

Sean, as I said, it can be useful. I was speaking to the concept broadly. Certainly, in some works, you would allow for the known authorial intent to colour you reading more than others.

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