This series started out with a bang. Ultron has already taken over the world, destroying cities and killing millions of people. The remaining super-heroes are forced to retreat to Nick Fury’s secret hideout in the Savage Land. While the Avengers use Dr. Doom’s time platform to go into the future to confront Ultron, Wolverine and Sue Richards journey into the past to kill Hank Pym before he creates Ultron. Which is where the whole story breaks down and becomes just another time-travel-creates-lots-of-alternate-realities dodge. Wolverine kills Pym which creates…surprise!...another reality that no one particularly likes. So Wolverine goes back in time again to stop his other self from killing Pym. Instead they have him build a failsafe into Ultron, then induce amnesia so he doesn’t know he’s done it. Finally, with this issue, the series lurches to its pitiful conclusion.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Editor:||Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort|
|Assistant Editor:||Jake Thomas|
|Writer:||Brian Michael Bendis|
|Artist:||Alex Maleev, Brandon Peterson, Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice, Carlos Pacheco, David Marquez, Joe Quesada, Paul Neary, Roger Bonet, Tom Palmer|
|Cover Art:||Brandon Peterson|
|Lettering:||VC's Cory Petit|
|Colorist:||Paul Mounts, Richard Isanove|
Hank Pym is in his lab “some months ago” when his computer system goes “ping” and a message appears that says, “Open your door, Doctor.” Outside he finds a package left by the Invisible Woman in invisible-mode. Inside the packet is a tablet labeled “play me.” He does. A video plays of himself before the mindwipe, telling him all about Ultron and what has to be done about him.
Meanwhile, the Avengers (Thor, Wolverine, Beast, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, Iron Man, Spider-Woman, and others) invade the headquarters of the “group of fairly intelligent criminal masterminds” known as the Intelligentsia. The villains have “stumbled upon what they think is found alien tech that crash-landed here.” The Avengers defeat the Intelligentsia but then the “alien tech” starts up. Having watched the video, Hank Pym knows what is going on. He contacts Iron Man and tells him to “launch the code” because the tech isn’t alien tech at all but a transportation shell containing Ultron. As Thor engages Ultron in battle, Hank tells Tony the code “is a kill code that is very specific to a backdoor code portal program built into him.” The code will take a while to load. The Avengers try to keep Ultron occupied but, seeing what is going on, Ultron is “decoding your code as you upload it…closing the backdoor as you open it.” But then, with the code completely loaded, Ultron shuts down. Using his hammer, Thor smashes Ultron into pieces. Pym explains, “We sent him what looked like an average backdoor Trojan Horse code, but the trick of it was, when Ultron tried to defend himself and re-code it and shut it down…it triggered a self-replicating virus that was implanted in him at his creation.” Iron Man asks why Pym never used this on Ultron before. “I didn’t have it before,” Hank says.
Successful, Sue Richards returns to Wolverine. They are no longer the Sue and Logan of Earth-616 but are from the alternate reality where Ultron won. Suddenly, Wolverine is hit by images of himself from many realities. Also struck by alternate reality images are Iron Man, Star-Lord, Hank Pym, the Thing when he was Blackbeard and Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man who sees the Mayday Parker Spider-Girl and the A2 team, a zombie Spider-Man, Killraven, and the Squadron Supreme among others. Then, in a big two-page spread, the realities shatter (Miguel O’Hara, the 2099 Spider-Man is glimpsed here). Time quakes reverberate from Earth into space.
In a lab, Hank Pym, Tony Stark, and Hank McCoy confer. They decide that “To destroy Ultron, Wolverine repeatedly abused the space-time continuum” and that they are “teetering on multiversal chaos.” Other worlds and other universes are affected too.
In the Ultimate universe, a bolt of energy coming from the sky knocks down Miles Morales. He looks up to see the 616 version of Galactus. The turn of a page reveals an ad for Hunger #1 in which Galactus “has his sights set on the Ultimate Earth.”
Meanwhile, Hank Pym thinks he knows what he did wrong in creating Ultron. “I know what I have to do,” he says. A turn of the page reveals an ad for Avengers A.I. #1 in which Pym, apparently, puts his new knowledge into action.
And, finally, “the multiversal chaos” is so severe that it brings Angela all the way from the Image universe to Marvel-reality. She is not pleased. (Neither am I.) A turn of the page reveals an ad for Guardians of the Galaxy #5 in which Angela will make her appearance.
This is about as disappointing as one of these crossover events can get. This series started out so well with Ultron having taken over the world and then fell into utterly clichéd time travel manipulations; concepts that were old fifty years ago. The first half of the series was just one big McGuffin with the only significant thing being Wolverine and Sue Richards going back into time. (The whole Avengers team went off to the future to stop Ultron and were never dealt with again. I guess they got wiped out). And so the plot is...Wolverine changes the past and makes the present worse (though it's debatable that the Morgan Le Fey universe he creates is worse than everybody being dead) so he goes back again and stops his earlier self from doing what he's doing. I think I saw this in an old issue of Amazing Adult Fantasy... or was it an old episode of Tales Of Tomorrow?
But the series itself isn’t the worst of it. What makes this so godawful is all the hype and deception surrounding it. This issue comes in a black bag, as if the cover is too shocking to see on the newsstand or as if too much is revealed. When you remove the bag, you find a standard image of the Avengers fighting Ultron, which is shocking only in that it features Storm and Red Hulk, who do not appear in the story.
That’s bad enough but then there’s all that nonsense Brian Bendis was spewing in interviews. On Newsarama.com, in an article entitled, Brian Bendis Guards Age of Ultron High-Level Secrets, this exchange occurs.
Bendis: …we have a big surprise at the end of this story that literally five people know. There are people in editorial who don't know, and they're annoyed by it. There are friends of mine who work in comics and work very closely with me who kind of go, "No, you can tell me." I'm like, "I really can't." It is the closest kept secret.
Nrama: Right, I think you said that even someone like Matt Fraction doesn't know.
Bendis: No, he does not know. And listen, this man was there at the birth of my child. He knows everything about me! Except this.
Nrama: So it's that big of an ending?
Bendis: It's that big of a surprise. And no one can guess it. You cannot guess it.
To which, I can only say, “Huh?” Now, if you read that carefully, Bendis corrects Newsarama from “big ending” to “big surprise,” which should have been a tip-off. Because I thought he meant that he had some grand conclusion to the whole storyline, some way to resolve it, some new approach to time travel and paradoxes that would knock our socks off. I didn't think he meant that he was going to stick some things in that would start other series. Things that had nothing to do with this maxi-series, except that, you know, the only reason this series existed was to spin off other series. So, Angela arrives. Is that the “big surprise?” Of course I wasn't going to guess that was the end of a series about Ultron. One doesn't have anything to do with the other! That's like Shakespeare saying, "You're not going to guess the ending of Hamlet," and then, at the very end, putting in that Fortinbras has a hangnail. Hah! Didn't expect THAT, did you? Nope. But what does it have to do with anything I read?
I know some of you are asking, “Did Bendis know what he was doing years in advance? Are the events in this series planted in previous storylines? Does the battle with the Intelligentsia fit in with any of their previous appearances? If Ultron’s emergence here was going to be the beginning of “Age of Ultron” until he’s short-circuited by the backdoor code, then why is Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel here instead of Captain Marvel? But the story does say these events took place “some months ago,” in which case, what was Ultron waiting for?” And the answer to all of these questions, of course, is “Who cares?”
That is also the answer to Angela’s appearance. And to Galactus threatening the Ultimate universe. Who cares? And, again, who cares? I thought I was reading a series about how Ultron conquered the world. Silly me. Turns out I was reading an unoriginal time travel tale that only existed to get me to buy more Marvel series. I know the business of comics is to sell more comics but this is about as low as it gets.
If I could give this negative webs, I would but I can only go as low as one-half web. Read at your own risk.