Chad Nevett, Author at Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources - Page 3 of 28
Two weeks and three issues in, what is Futures End about? We know that Brother Eye needs to be stopped before taking over the world, but, given that Batman (Beyond) only appears on one page this week, it doesn’t seem like that’s what this series is actually about. It may be about alien invaders. It may be about Mr. Terrific doing his best Rock impression. It may be about living in the shadow of a devastating war. It may be about Superman wearing a cooler Nu52 outfit than John Romita, Jr. is stuck drawing come June. Or, it may be about the preservation of the status quo. Just like every other superhero comic.
Five years ago, I wrote on this very site: “‘Will I ever reread those?’ I think to myself, looking at the four volumes of 52 and I just can’t say. It’s certainly possible, especially if I feel like doing one trade each week for a month’s worth of Reread Reviews (which actually isn’t a bad idea), but… if I don’t think I’ll ever reread them, why do I keep them? Although, based on my experience of trading comics as a kid, I know that if I do ever get rid of them, sometime in the following ten years, I’ll have a strong urge to reread them and then where will I be?”
For the month of January 2014, I wrote about Age of Ultron #10 everyday. Here is the archive of those posts.
Some people seemed to understand what I was doing here; others clearly did not. After a month of trying to find as many ways as possible of examining a comic, of writing more than twenty thousand words on a single issue, of doing it just to see if I could, we have arrived at the end. But, before I leave, one last reading of Age of Ultron #10 where I explain what the comic is really about.
Age of Ultron #10 felt familiar the first time I read it. My first instinct was that it was a conclusion to a story much like Secret War. When people called Age of Ultron an ‘event comic,’ I’d smile to myself and say, “Nah, it’s just another Secret War.” Secret War wasn’t an ‘event comic,’ it was this weird little mini-series that began before Brian Michael Bendis took over Avengers and killed the title. It’s the real beginning of his run on the Avengers franchise and Age of Ultron is the real end. Or, maybe prologue/epilogue?
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.
The only Age of Ultron tie-in comic that I’ve put any stock in (I guess besides Avengers #12.1) is Guardians of the Galaxy #5. While the consequences of time ‘breaking’ were felt in other comics, this was the only one written by Brian Michael Bendis that shows the ‘timequake’ scene from Age of Ultron #10 (er, unless the Ultimate Spider-Man panel from those two pages was reproduced elsewhere…). It’s the closest thing we get to an explanation about what happens, courtesy of everyone’s favourite Mad Titan… (Or, clone thereof!)
The morality of superheroes killing is a recurring idea in Brian Michael Bendis’s Avengers books. Usually, it is raised as an option and shown to be a faulty one. When Clint Barton ignores Spider-Man incredibly whining, childish arguments against killing Norman Osborn (they basically amount to the lame “But it’s wrong! ALWAYS! SO THERE!”), he’s captured by Osborn and shown the error of his ways. Any time the idea of killing is actually discussed and put into action, it is shown to be faulty. Yet, subtle killing happens quite often.
Brian Michael Bendis seems to follow the cue of many cable and HBO TV shows where the second-last episode of a season is where all of the big moments happen, while the finale is mostly clean-up with a few smaller moments of closure. It may not seem like it, but Age of Ultron #10 follows that pattern as well, leaving the big moral quandaries and events to the previous issue and wrapping things up in a fairly straight forward manner itself.
In the second half of Age of Ultron, the main characters are, ostensibly, Logan and Susan Richards as they travel back in time to somehow alter the future to prevent the “Age of Ultron” that has left the world in ruins. Logan sees killing Hank Pym as the only solution to his problem. No Hank Pym means no Ultron. Susan struggles against that idea, but, eventually acquiesces because of the staggering disparity between the life of Hank Pym and the large body count that Ultron amasses over his lifetime, including Susan’s family. Part of what makes killing Pym the only solution available that they can see if that Pym’s ego and ambition would prevent him from creating Ultron if told what the consequences were; he would simply try to make Ultron better (and most likely fail). It is only when they see the world without Hank Pym that results from their actions that Logan goes back and stops himself before he kills Pym and they come up with another solution.
But, but, but…! What about Tony Stark? If Age of Ultron #10 offers Hank Pym redemption (or doesn’t – U-Decide!), what does it offer Tony Stark, who, after Pym, is the most active character in the issue. While Wolverine and Sue Richards helped set up the plan, their roles are mostly over by this point, dropping off the iPad note, and, then, going into the future to ‘break’ time. It’s Stark who is Pym’s partner in taking down Ultron and Stark who, in Avengers #12.1 and the rest of Age of Ultron, reacts strongest to Ultron, representing the promise of technology in the face of Ultron’s tech-gone-extreme approach.
Something that’s always felt unsatisfying about Age of Ultron #10 is how Ultron’s defeat, while clever, doesn’t feel big enough. After the robot killed so many people, decimated the planet so much, his defeat has always seemed less than monumental and heroic. ‘Heroic’ is probably the wrong word; it simply does not feel like the Avengers and the other heroes somehow triumphed over evil. Thinking about it, it actually falls in line with how Bendis events end.
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?
“You won’t be part of either team.” I maintain that, if you want to know anything about Hank Pym, that is the most important line in Age of Ultron #10. It offers great insight into the character, particularly when you take into account that he’s being told this by his past self. While Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t delve into that tension, it remains an undercurrent of everything involving Pym throughout the issue.