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Another View: Age of Ultron #10 Part 29

What’s interesting about the end of Age of Ultron #10 and the fallout explored in Guardians of the Galaxy #5 is how it seems like it’s part of the build-up to Infinity. Yet, there’s a disconnect there, like Bendis’s set up for why the universe and Thanos would try to destroy Earth is one thing and Hickman’s explanation/story is a bit off. They’re in the same area, just out of step. However, it’s a case of a Marvel event directly leading into the next one in a way that we haven’t seen before. Ever since House of M, there has been a semi-organic flow to the main plot of the Marvel Universe (if only because Bendis seemed to be the writer behind the events), but not such a direct link between the end of one event and the beginning of the one that follows. There were always intermediary status quo bridges; that’s still here to a degree, lessened by the proximity between Age of Ultron and Infinity.

It’s hard to completely quantify the effect of Age of Ultron in plot terms, because all of the comics we had read post-Avengers #12.1 were a result of the events in Age of Ultron #10. As I’ve said before, Age of Ultron and Avengers vs. X-Men seem to occupy roughly the same time period, so there’s actually a disconnect between Age of Ultron and Infinity that isn’t reflected in the release schedule. The relationship between those two events makes the exact placement of Age of Ultron complicated on another level. You could explain it away by placing the events of Age of Ultron as happening roughly at the same time as when Avengers vs. X-Men happened, but the ‘timequake’ happened closer to Infinity. It’s rather awkward.

Some have complained about the ambiguity of the scene where time ‘breaks,’ because what exactly happens is unclear. That’s always seemed to be part of the point; Bendis views time as more fluid than many readers would like despite a fluid, not-strictly-linear time being the only way to make sense of the events of the Marvel Universe over the past 30 years or so. What’s unexpected is the way that Age of Ultron itself becomes a microcosm of that very idea. Events overlap and conflict, causing a confusing chronology. While much of Age of Ultron didn’t strictly happen as ‘counting’ for the Marvel Universe, it all happened for the readers. Or, to put it another way: what Wolverine stories ‘count’ and which ones don’t when he’s in eight books every month? In what order do they happen? How can you consider it the same character when the portrayal differs?

After countless rereads and 29 entries in this writing experiment, I’ve still yet to settle on one explanation, one specific reading of Age of Ultron #10 and its effect on everything around it – and where it situates itself. It’s an odd floating comic that covers a width breadth of time, both inside and outside of the Marvel Universe itself. It seeks to explain the Marvel Universe’s unique relationship with time while simultaneously being a metaphor for it.

12 Comments

Where does Age of Ultron fit on future Tony Stark’s “Rip Hunter” timeline? I realize that future Tony was from the “Avengers Next” future, not from the nearly-identical AoU future, but it was clearly intended for us the readers as much as for younger Tony. Most other major Marvel events were pre-planned to fit on there, so I’m curious if we can look back on that timeline and say “Wow, Bendis really did have all this planned back in 2010.”

Update: here’s a link to the timeline: http://www.newcomicreviews.com/bendisboard/timeline.jpg. I see that “Ultron War” comes right after “Steve’s Vision,” which has “Yesterday’s X-Men” next to it. The original 5 X-Men did arrive in the present Marvel U just before AoU started, soooooo….

I’m impressed, looking at the link. “Steve’s Vision” was used in the NOW! Avengers from Hickman, so that’s come in to play (with the “we have to get bigger” stuff). I believe the Kang’s Forces one is in play in Uncanny Avengers.

So they either had a lot planned already, or Bendis threw out these cryptic phrases and let it play out so that things could fit somehow.

Since AvX seems to have come into play later on (unless I missed it on the board), what role do you think the delay of AoU and the replacement with AvX has in the disparities where you can’t “link up” things perfectly? Is it merely “timequake” and a handwave, or …? (I realize this is only a half formed thought and I have nowhere to go with it. Random Half-Thought!)

And I’m sure you’ve seen already anyway, but the 5 issue What If AoU has been solicited. I know you’re a sucker for What Ifs (and from what I’ve heard of the AvX one, you’d HAVE to be a sucker to come back for more ;) ).

“what Wolverine stories ‘count’ and which ones don’t when he’s in eight books every month?”

Y’know, it’d be much easier for Marvel to just not put him in every single comic like they already do (and this goes for Spider-man as well), instead of having Bendis write some masturbatory event that’s a meta-commentary on how we as readers have to treat/view Marvel Universe continuity in order for it to make sense. Give Wolvy a regular solo series, put him in one, maybe two X-Men books, and have him drop out of the Avengers. You do that, and suddenly 90% of Marvel’s continuity disappear.

I mean, if you go back to giant-size X-men #1, he’s totally against joining teams and the only reason he’s willing to join Xavier is that it’s a mutant team. Plus, he’s running a school now in addition to being on multiple X-teams and having solo adventures (he will be back to the JG Academy after Cornell finishes the first couple arcs of the “new Wolverine,” I’ll guarantee it).

The whole reason he was put on the Avengers in the first place was to boost sales; Millar, Bendis and Quesada wanted to rip off the whole JLA idea of using “A-listers,” and Wolverine was at the time their second most favorite/well known character. But thanks to the Avengers franchise of movies, they now have a slew of big name characters, plus some “traditional/classic” Avengers characters that, while they haven’t appeared in film yet, probably show up in theaters in the near future. Marvel simply doesn’t need Wolverine to be an Avenger in the comics anymore. Fox owns the movie rights to Wolverine (along with other X-Men characters), so it would probably be more beneficial for Marvel to be pushing current/possible future Avengers movies characters in their Avengers comics, since people who will be reading the comics because of the movies will be looking for Avengers movie characters.

The same goes for the X-Men films and comics; these other movies companies are essentially doing big-budget 2 hour advertisements for your comics, so the comics should probably reflect the movies at least a little bit. Moviegoers are going to associate Wolverine with the X-Men, not the Avengers, so stop wasting Avengers page space with him. Same goes with Spidey. Now that Bendis is off the Avengers books, maybe we can finally get past these kind of fan-fictiony concepts.

It was an incredibly bad event that led to nothing. The “broken time” stuff didn’t amount to anything so far and Wolverine is, apparently, free of any responsibility…and he still have the nerve to blame Cyclops for everything bad that happens.

Bendis has a problem with events: pacing. This one was not different, as some issues didn’t move the plot forward at all. It seems like he cannot maintain tension and build-up over 10 issues or so. Expectations were incredibly high for Secret Invasion and what we got was: the Avengers stuck in the Savage Land, very minor characters disguised as Skrulls, the utter destruction of Spider-Woman as an interesting character and no deep insight of the Skrull empire and motivations other than some prophetic statements. It was my biggest Marvel disappointment of the past 10 years.

Coming back to AOU, maybe Marvel is still waiting to continue the “broken time” plot but I haven’t seen any indication of this so far and it really had nothing to do with Infinity. Hell, Beast brought back the 60’s X-Men AFTER AOU, which means that the broken time stuff did not prevent time traveling.

Besides, why the hell Marvel’s editorial is so addicted to time travel plots? It is happening EVERYWHERE, in almost every comic, from Spider-Man to Avengers to X-Men. I’m beyond sick of this, as it is constantly creating incredibly convoluted storylines on an already convoluted continuity (looking at you X-Men).

If I was Alonso I’d put a ban on time travel plots for at least a year or two.

Update: here’s a link to the timeline: http://www.newcomicreviews.com/bendisboard/timeline.jpg. I see that “Ultron War” comes right after “Steve’s Vision,” which has “Yesterday’s X-Men” next to it. The original 5 X-Men did arrive in the present Marvel U just before AoU started, soooooo….

That really does fit perfectly.

The Age of Ultron did take place at that point in history. It just took place at that point in history after Ultron went back in time and conquered the world starting in Avengers #12.1.

But going just by the nominal date of time in the Marvel Universe, Age of Ultron would have taken place between Avengers #1 and All-New X-Men #1.

This would also explain why THAT’s the point in time that the time breaking happens (All-New X-Men, Angela showing up, Galactus going to the Ultimate Universe) because THAT’s where the majority of the time tampering took place. To wit, imagine writing down on a piece of paper with a pencil “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men” and then writing “Age of Ultron.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Age of Ultron” and write in “Magic/Science War.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Magic/Science War” and write in “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men.” What’s going to happen is that the paper is going to start falling apart, right? From all of the erasures. That’s what happens to the Marvel timeline. That point in time had been erased and written over so many times that a fissure in time opened up at that point in time, which is what allowed the All-New X-Men to exist in the present and what yanked Angela from her dimension, etc.

*continuity hiccups disappear

Adam, the placement of that note is placed in a way that it’s hard to tell where it falls (it’s next to Steve’s vision, but underneath Ultron War) — and, if you look at the map, the spacing of events doesn’t totally line up with how things actually happened. Events that were far apart are right next to one another, while some that were close are spaced out… it looks more like a rough guide to events than a perfectly planned timeline.

Or, what Brian said.

Adam

January 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Update: here’s a link to the timeline: http://www.newcomicreviews.com/bendisboard/timeline.jpg. I see that “Ultron War” comes right after “Steve’s Vision,” which has “Yesterday’s X-Men” next to it. The original 5 X-Men did arrive in the present Marvel U just before AoU started, soooooo….

That’s the timeframe I fit it into.

To wit, imagine writing down on a piece of paper with a pencil “Marvel Now Begins.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men” and then writing “Age of Ultron.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Age of Ultron” and write in “Magic/Science War.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Magic/Science War” and write in “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men.” What’s going to happen is that the paper is going to start falling apart, right? From all of the erasures. That’s what happens to the Marvel timeline. That point in time had been erased and written over so many times that a fissure in time opened up at that point in time, which is what allowed the All-New X-Men to exist in the present and what yanked Angela from her dimension, etc.

Excellent!!!

“To wit, imagine writing down on a piece of paper with a pencil “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men” and then writing “Age of Ultron.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Age of Ultron” and write in “Magic/Science War.” Then using an eraser to roughly erase “Magic/Science War” and write in “Doc Ock Becomes Spider-Man/Fantastic Four leave Earth/Cyclops forms a rogue team of X-Men.” What’s going to happen is that the paper is going to start falling apart, right? From all of the erasures. That’s what happens to the Marvel timeline. That point in time had been erased and written over so many times that a fissure in time opened up at that point in time, which is what allowed the All-New X-Men to exist in the present and what yanked Angela from her dimension, etc.”

Am I the only one who came to a similar or exact same conclusion as this like,right after they finished reading AoU instead of needing to write a cathartic 29-and-counting series of posts on the final issue of AoU in order to figure this out? lol

I kid, but seriously – it took me like five minutes to figure out when AoU took place and then see what Bendis was going for with “time breaking,” that all of the constant time travel and history changing had caused time to break down and things as we remembered them changed. It’s not that hard a concept to grasp. It makes even more sense post-Battle of the Atom – time breaking (and people like Magik, Current Hank McCoy and Future Hank McCoy continuing to abuse it) is why the past X-Men now can’t return to their own timeline.

Bendis owes you money, Chad.

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