Travelling Man's Blog


Review: Age of Ultron Book 5 by Travelling Man

Age of Ultron

Book Five

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils by Paul Neary

Colours by Paul Mounts

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

Cover by Hitch, Neary & Mounts

Published by Marvel

£2.85 (Or £1.80 with Super Card Go!)

 

Hail, hail the gang’s all here. And the gang has a plan. And of course, this being the Marvel universe, the gang actually has two plans, one noticeably more stabby than the other one.

Have a guess which one Wolverine champions?

Bingo.

After the plodding pace of book 4, this is a welcome and desperately needed uptick in information density if not actual action. It opens on a flashback, with the revelation that Tony Stark has been trying, and failing, to fix the Vision. So, he does the one thing that brilliant, idiotic people in the Marvel universe always do; calls other brilliant idiots to help solve the problem for him. It’s a temporary Marvel brain trust as Tony, Reed Richards and Hank Pym discuss how to fix Vision and, of course, Ultron. It’s also a smart scene, as Pym’s first appearance in the book that’s pretty clearly his fault involves him discussing Ultron, justifying why the homicidal AI isn’t actually his fault and…Reed Richards giving precisely zero damns about what Pym thinks. Pym has always been a divisive figure in the Marvel Universe and, let’s face it, a lot of people are going to want to give him the hard word this series. It’s a smart move introducing him here, and also setting out the stall for the intellectual conflict that’s assuredly coming with him.

It also, finally, takes Tony Stark off the intellectual bench. Snapping back to the Savage Land, in a really smartly done pair of twinned panels, Stark finally figures out just what Ultron used the Vision for, how much it’s his fault and how elegant the strategy was. Tony nearly comes apart and in doing so, drags Cap off the bench to talk him down. The two senior statesheroes (That’s a word now) of the Helicarrier club have been worse than useless so far so it’s nice to see both of them getting their act together at last.

Plus, just as everyone’s older brothers get their act together, the Marvel universe’s spy dad turns up to help things along. I’ve rarely been happier to see Nick Fury in a comic, and his entrance here (Or rather the helicarrier club’s entrance to his SHIELD bolt hole in the Savage Land) is one of the best moments in the series so far. Fury is the Marvel universes’ greatest pragmatist, a man who always has a plan and this is no exception. In fact the Fury sequence is smartly written you’re all the way through it before you realize that, once again, the Helicarrier club are sitting around discussing what to do.

The difference between this and the inept planning they carry out in the first couple of issues is massive though, thanks to Fury and the simple fact that for the first time the heroes have been handed a weapon they can use; Doom’s time platform. So, the true nature of the story is finally revealed and yep, it’s a time travel book. Which on the one hand is cause for some pretty serious concern about how the book’s going to end, but on the other? I’ve got to admit, I’m interested. And, against all odds and evidence from the last four issues, it’s because of the discussion about just what they’re going to do. Cap and Tony are adamant that they should travel back in time and reason with Pym to stop him creating Ultron. Wolverine on the other hand has read comics with Hank Pym in them before and points out what no one wants to admit; that the second they tell Pym he can’t create Ultron, they guarantee he will.

So they have to kill him.

And you know what, I think he may be right. This is one of the smartest, most honest approaches to Marvel’s parade of geniuses I’ve ever seen. The fastest way to get one of these guys to do something is to tell them they can’t and as a result, this is a straight up no win scenario. They kill Pym, the effects on time are horrifying. They don’t kill Pym, Ultron’s created and the effects on the world are horrific. There’s no easy answer and the search for that answer, as well as the refusal to do the one thing neither Tony or Cap prepared to do. At least for now…

Extra bonus marks for both Fury’s mini Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse of old superhero tech too, especially his response to Spidey’s line about his webshooters being there (‘You’re the only guy who can have webshooters?’) and extra special bonus points for it being retro (Cap’s energy shield! Dude!) and for Tony’s nod and wink to Battlestar Galactica. Bendis is clearly a fan.

Extra extra special bonus points for the eventual plan too; go upsteam to when Ultron is and kill him. Fury even picks a smart team for it too; Tony, Cap, Storm, Sue Richards, Red Hulk, Black Widow, Quicksilver and Quake. That’s a solid strategy with a solid unit backing it up. It’s just a shame that, if I’m reading it right, Widow at the very least is still in the bunker when the kill-team move out. It’s not on the level of the wild inconsistencies in who was where that showed up in Avengers vs X-Men last year but it’s still a clunky play that someone should have spotted.

And then there’s that final page, with the hard choice being made by the one person in the room who can make choices like that. Logan is going to go and kill Hank Pym, and I suspect he won’t be alone. Whether or not he makes it, and the effect his trip will have, fascinates me and by the end of this issue, I was all the way back onboard. Age of Ultron has taken it’s time getting here, but the implications of what’s about to happen are fascinating. Bring on book six.

Alasdair Stuart

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