Age of Ultron #2

Background

Ultron, an artificial intelligence invented by Hank Pym, has been planning for it's takeover of Earth. Constantly, it has been defeated by the Avengers. But after each defeat, it evolved to become better than before. Now, Ultron has taken over Earth. And humanity is essentially screwed.

Last issue, Hawkeye saved Spider-Man (Otto Octavius, not Peter Parker) from the Owl and Hammerhead's gang. They were confronted by a fleet of golden Ultrons, which they luckily escaped from. Hastily, Hawkeye brought Peter to a broken-down S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and were impolitely greeted by a few of their fellow Avengers. They allowed them into the remains of the Helicarrier, where they found Captain America with his head in his knees, next to his broken shield.

Yes, the Superior Spider-Man is in the event. If you don't know what that means, and you're a regular reader of Spiderfan.Org, then you are a little bit on the crazy side. Seriously, how long has this revelation been around? Three months?

Story Details

  Age of Ultron #2
Summary: Spider-Man Appearance
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Bervoort
Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas, John Denning
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Paul Neary
Lettering: VC's Cory Petit
Colorist: Paul Mounts

Last issue, we got a glimpse of NYC under Ultron's reign. This issue, apparently, is occurring across the United States, in San Francisco, CA. And it is holding up as well as New York City. Meaning it's certainly not.

Many of the skyscrapers of San Francisco look as if a wrecking ball smashed into the side of each one. Rubble and jalopies litter the streets. It seems as if a nuclear bomb has been dropped in the street, leaving behind a deep hole. Smoke is fuming out of three different locations from a fire with an unexplained origin. Unlike NYC, the sky is not covered by machinery and processors. Instead, it is just a disgusting shade of green.

On the streets, there is much debris and a building is practically about to topple on the street. Many cars lay in the debris. A trolley is under a load of rubble, obviously going nowhere. Corpses inhabit the inside, eerily sitting in their seats. A load of bodies are all falling on each other, trying to exit it as fast as possible.

Natasha Romanova, Black Widow is walking down a vacant street. A blanket hangs from her head, almost acting as a poncho. She is also walking with worn-out sneakers. As she is walking past a building with pillars that look as if a spray of bullets hit it, she spots three golden Ultrons flying by.

The group of mechanical menaces swoop down, looking for any sign of life with their fiery eyes. They continue down the street without finding anything but debris.

Once they're gone, Natasha gets up from a group of dead bodies, which she was hiding among. She covers up her left eye with her hand, as if she is trying to protect it from the depressing broken-down buildings. She starts walking again when a hand with a pistol reveals itself. "What do you have?" the gunman questions.

He steps out of the shadows, still with his gun steadily pointed at Natasha. The man looks like he was just heading to work, with neatly done hair. "You've got something. What? A car? Food? Give me what you've got," he demands. "Where did you get the gun?" she asks, ignoring what he just said. "D-drop the blanket and put your hands on the-on the wall," he interjects.

Natasha starts playing with him and he obviously gets angry. "I'm going to shoot you," he says. "No. You won't. If you were going to, you would have. If you were a real man, you would have. That I would respect," Natasha rants. "Did you get to watch your family die? Do you think they watch you now?" Natasha says as she pulls back her blanket. Her left eye is covered with what looks like burnt skin. Her eye is now only a miniature dot, probably impossible to see through.

"N-no more talk! Give me what you have!" The man is done with Natasha's games. But, before he can act, he is shot in the head. In sign language, Natasha says that she had it. A man atop the roofs signals, "Sure you did." The sniper on the roof is none other than Mark Spector, Moon Knight. Mark is wearing a coat over his costume with a bandit's mask covering his mouth.

Natasha bends down to the dead man. She finds a fiber bar and a bottle of water and takes them from the man. Mark signs, "Safe house," to Natasha. Soon, she is hiding in debris as a fleet of Ultron fly overhead. Her left eye is covered with the blanket again. She is walking down an alleyway when she hears, "Submit or perish. Submit or perish."

Two golden Ultrons are annihilating three men. They try running away and Ultron shoots a fiery blast, cutting the upper half of their bodies from the bottom. Once all of the people are dead, they walk away, past a door which Natasha enters when the coast is clear.

Inside the entrance is a barber shop that looks untouched by the Ultrons. Natasha sits in a chair and nudges the armrest. Underneath her, the squared tiles that once acted as the floor slide away. Then, the chair rolls down a hidden staircase of some sort. At the bottom of it, she steps off the chair and climbs down a staircase.

May boxes and files are all spread on the floor. An old computer sits on a table and an undone bed is on the floor. "Well, that was a bust..." a voice says. Natasha quickly points a gun and knife at the direction of the voice. "Watch it, Natasha. You're going to put an eye out with that thing," Moon Knight jokes. "Aren't you funny," Natasha says dryly.

"I thought it would take just a little longer for humanity to completely collapse on itself," Natasha says. "Well, you were really kidding yourself then. No word from the outside world?" Mark asks. Natasha says, "Everything is dead or dying." Mark asks, trying to change the subject, "What do you think Fury was doing here?"

In front of them is a board filled with newspaper articles and pictures of heroes and villains alike. "This was Fury's secret hideout. Well, one of them," Natasha replies. "It looks like this was where he was holed up during the Secret Invasion." Mark says, "The people he can trust in blue and the people he couldn't in red?"

"I wonder if he made it out of the other side of this?" Black Widow thinks aloud. "I wonder if he's going to kill us for using his stuff," Mark says. "He most certainly will," she replies. "Where do we go from here?" "Go? This is the safest place in the universe," Natasha says.

Mark says, "And we don't think that Ultron will somehow tap into S.H.I.E.L.D. intelligence and discover these little Fury vacation spots," he says. "One of the great things about Nicholas Fury is that he never wrote anything down. If you don't write it down, there's no paper to trail. The Machine can't find this place because nobody knows it exists," she says.

"We have to find the others. Thor, somebody had to make it through this, too..." Mark worries. "Just promise me that you will help me shove a nuclear warhead up that robot's @$$," Natasha says. "I don't mind going out. We're all going to eventually," she says. Mark exclaims, "But not without taking that %&^$ thing with us," Mark says. "Exactly."

Back in NYC, in the Helicarrier, Spider-Man sits, obviously stressed. "So, the end of the world actually happened and I slept through it?" Spidey asks. "How much more me could I possibly be? My name is Peter Parker, by the way. I guess we can forgo the paranoid formality of a secret identity. All of those things that were so freaking important to us--Not so important anymore, huh?"

When someone asks him what happened, Otto says that he went to bed and when he woke up "the world had gone to absolute Hell." He thought that he had cracked up. "Well, I've always been pretty sure that no human being can have gone through all of the things I have gone through and not eventually snap," Otto says.

"What did you see, Peter?" someone asks. Otto goes back to when he was sleeping in his messy apartment. A pizza box lay open and he was on his couch in his costume, mask in hand. When he woke up, he looked out the window and saw people running frantically. He put on his mask (oddly enough, he isn't wearing his "superior" costume) and swung outside to find complete chaos. A mechanical wall pushes through the city, toppling everything in it's path.

"Do we know if it's just Manhattan?" he asks. "We assume that it's everywhere. No one has even tried to enter the airspace," Luke Cage replies. "Washington DC is gone. We know that for a fact," Cage says. Peter bites his lip and asks, "Can I just say...I'm really glad to see you guys," Spidey says. "I-is this everybody? This is it? 7,000 super heroes in New York...This is all that's left?"

"How did you end up kidnapped?" Tony Stark asks. Otto goes back to where he left off. He was swinging into the mechanical wall when an electrical surge rushed past him. Then a caped figure dropped from the sky.

"My spider-sense didn't even go off. There was just a flash of white. I woke up drugged and tied to a chair," Otto finished. When he tells them that his captors were going to sell him to Ultron, Cage says, "No offense, but why would the robot need you? And why would he need those idiots to bring you to him?"

"I don't think it's a matter of need. Maybe just want. But I'm hardly an expert on world-destroying artificial organisms," Otto says. (He is a expert on world-destroying egomaniacs, though.) "It might be that the Owl and the other guy are just fooling themselves into thinking they can do business with it. But they were really about to get themselves evaporated," Daisy Johnson, former acting-commander of S.H.I.E.L.D., says.

"I thought that too, Daisy. But I'm under the distinct impression that they have done this before. Bartered a person of interest," Otto says. The heroes all start in an uproar after hearing this. "But we're going to do something...Right?" Otto asks. "Survive," Tony says. "Tony, survive is not something," Otto snaps.

"No, it's not...But that's because we didn't have a plan...Until now," Captain America says.

General Comments

I liked this issue. I know that many people are all angry that not enough was explained in it, but I'm not. I read a comic book for enjoyment. I don't care if it's a little slow. This is a ten-issue miniseries that comes out every or every other week. Explanations will come soon enough. I care if I liked the issue or not, and I loved this issue.

Bendis was practically nudging us with a stick throughout this one. What's "The Machine" that Mark and Natasha were talking about that could see everything? What's up with Black Widow's eye? Who captured Spider-Man? What happened to Washington DC? Why is Ultron trading heroes with dirt like the Owl? What is Captain America's plan? And, most of all, how did Ultron win? I am excited to see how Bendis will tie all of this up in a bow.

There is also great character work here. The impenetrable Black Widow was actually insecure about herself! Doctor Octopus is helping stop the end of the word! (Ock's sentence saying, "So, the end of the world actually happened and I slept through it?" is classic.) Moon Knight and Black Widow actually killing innocents for food surprised me.

But, sadly, one of the glaring problems of the comic is Spider-Man. The dialogue feels like it was switched around a bit for Ock, but the art is the problem. Hitch drew regular Spider-Man swinging throughout the city streets. Is it his problem that Marvel switched Spider-Man after they had begun production in the book? I could be a stickler and point out why this story makes no sense chronologically, but I can just as easily do the reverse. Otto telling the Avengers that he is Peter Parker means that it is probably taking place before Superior Spider-Man #7. Maybe Ock shredded his costume and the old threads were just temporary. Maybe this takes place before he even made his costume! (Which would take place between ASM 700 and AvSM 15.1.)

Bryan Hitch's art remains top-notch. I really liked his panels with Peter/Otto. He expresses emotion really well. Maybe, he can join as a rotating Spider-Man artist. (Wasn't there a rumor that Brubaker and Hitch were going to take over the Spider-Man title before Dan Slott came up with Superior Spider-Man?) I love how Bendis uses him, too. Only Hitch could pull of that two-pager where Spidey is swinging by to see the chaos of Ultron's reign.

Overall Rating

A good character issue that flows right from the last issue. Fantastic art, also.