What If? Age of Ultron #2

Background

The Age Of Ultron event involved Wolverine going back in time to stop himself from going back in time to kill Hank Pym in the hopes that he wouldn't create Ultron. Ultron was ultimately stopped but all the time travelling broke the timeline and caused multiple time and space incursions.

Story Details

During his conflict with Tony Stark, Obadiah Stane sent him a bottle of wine to tip him over the edge in alcoholism. Tony wound up dead, Stane took over his company and The Amour War broke out.

Thirty Years Later: As Wolverine stakes out an Ezekiel Stane (Obadiah's son) warehouse, it explodes! He enters the fray, after some cargo, fighting off Stane's soldiers. Ghost Rider (not a known Ghost Rider but someone else fuelled by vengeance) enters the fight and they are able to survive long enough to survey the cargo the soldiers are protecting: some original Stark Iron Man armour! Wolverine is shot, blacks out and wakes up to find the armour gone. He and Ghost Rider leave together.

They travel to China to see Hulk, who has taken on the practices of a Shaolin Monk. Hulk is zen. He refuses to help Wolverine and Ghost Rider to bring down Stane.

Their next stop is Rutland, Vermont where they find retired Peter Parker. Peter has two kids and is married to Betty. Wolverine wants to talk to him about Stark and Peter can't refuse.

Inside his family home, Peter hears about how the new Ghost Rider was created (his family had been slaughtered by Stane's technology) and that, if he wants to stop this happening again to other kids, he has to help now. Peter takes him down to his basement where he digs out a chest full of bits of Spider-Man costumes. He sighs... then goes upstairs to tell his wife that he has to go...

Back in China, Spider-Man (wearing a mish-mash of Spider-Man costumes) convinces Hulk to join them... but no smashing!

They fly to The Savage Land in an old Avengers Quinjet. When they arrive, they find a Master Mold (a giant sentinel-birthing robot created by Bolivar Trask) that Stane has reconfigured to birth Stark Armours. They land and are immediately attacked by Stane's soldiers! Hulk leaps off to begin smashing Master Mold (he is allowed to smash robots) whilst the others quickly repel the soldiers and make their way inside the hole Hulk has created. Deep inside they find the control room which houses a Stark Armour, Ezekiel Stane himself, a young girl who is the descendent of Trask and a dozen soldiers. Stane is using the girl to control Master Mold (as it only responds to Trask DNA) and is protecting himself behind her. Spider-Man figures the only way out of this stand off is to attack the Stark Armour! Hulk fastball specials him at it! His interference detaches it from Mater Mold's central core, causing a massive surge of power which destroys the armour... and Spider-Man!

A week later, Wolverine returns to Betty and tell her the news of her husband's passing.

Shortly after, Wolverine, Hulk, Ghost Rider and the young Trask girl visit Peter's grave and are inspired by his sacrifice.

General Comments

What on earth has this got to do with Age Of Ultron? Seriously, I can't figure it out! Ultron is on the front cover, Ultron is in the name of the comic book and I bought it because it was designated to have something to do with the darn Age Of Ultron series.

So we get an alternative timeline when Tony Stark died and The Armour Wars kicked off and killed lots of heroes.

According to the recap page, this story is simply set in an alternative world that we are exposed to from Wolverine's "breaking" of time. So... a normal What If...? story then... that still has nothing to do with Ultron. Sigh.

That aside, this is still a fairly bad comic. Writer Joe Keatinge delivers that unique Fantastic Four that's been re-done before and kills Peter Parker in a situation so poorly established and heightened that I don't care that my favourite character is dead. There are some nice Spider-Man nods I suppose: married to Betty Brant, the mis-matched costume, settled with kids and the attempts at humour.

I do like the fact that Keatinge doesn't lay the whole plot, past and new world order out for you on a plate, but he then isn't quite clever or quick enough to establish the plot, past and new world order through enough. The subtleties are too subtle and a little uninspiring.

Then there is the art from Ramon Villalobos. His style reminds my of Beavis and Butthead or King Of The Hill with an abundance of additional, equally-weighted lines to add detail and texture. There's no black in this book and, for me and other fans of depth and shadow, this is a big flaw. There are some that may appreciate this style, but the lack of black and attempt to create depth with flakey little lines is something I can't appreciate.

The action scenes lose integrity, flow and quality rapidly because there's rarely definition of movement in the art and the dialogue is busy wrapped up in explaining what is going on rather than exploring emotion and delivering character. Maybe this is a just a fault of What If...? issues...

Overall Rating

Peter Parker making the ultimate sacrifice is the only thing that saves the world... and this book.