Chad Nevett, Author at Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources - Page 3 of 28
I rather liked last week’s issue. This week, I was less enamoured with Futures End. Despite the upgrade in art with the return of Patrick Zircher, this week’s issue felt like a transitional one more than anything. A bit of moving the pieces around the board into better positions. While not superficially as entertaining as other types of stories, the way that the various plots are intersecting and piling atop one another is thrilling in its own way. It’s also how I’ve begun to learn to read this type of weekly comic after a month and a half. Maybe.
What being a ‘superhero’ means continues to crop up in Futures End. It’s beginning to look like a longform meditation on the concept, what it means in the Nu52DCU and beyond. The fifth issue opens with Mr. Terrific acting like his definition of a superhero: announcing a new piece of technology. In this case, the uSphere: a floating globe that’s “your brain’s backup.” The announcement is a big media event with an over-the-top speech by Mr. Terrific that’s long on rhetorical flourishes and short on substance. “And that, my friends, is how to be a super-hero,” he says after, removing the sunglasses he was wearing during the announcement, a reversal of Clark Kent removing his glasses to assume the identity of Superman. For Mr. Terrific, being a superhero is being a successful technology magnate. We are living in the shadow of Wildcats Version 3.0 clearly.
A full cycle is complete. One month. Four weeks. This is the quintuple-size debut of Futures End and… where are we? What have we learned? What have we gained as people? How has this weekly dose of the Nu52DCU five years in the future enriched our lives? Has it really been just a month? It feels like more/less. I don’t know anymore… I just don’t know…
In the first issue of Futures End, Green Arrow was killed and Firestorm didn’t help save him, because the controlling half of the superhero, Ronnie, turned off his phone to have sex, meaning the passive half of the superhero, Jason, had to run around and find him, wasting too much time in the process to be of any help. In the second issue, Jason continued to berate Ronnie at the funeral of Green Arrow even as Arsenal irrationally blamed Firestorm for the death of someone he took no role in killing. In the third issue, Ronnie has, apparently, not stopped being Firestorm since that time, basically holding Jason hostage. This is the most interesting plot in Futures End. This is what I love about this comic.
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.