Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Age of Ultron, Alasdair Stuart, Brandon Peterson, Brian Michael Bendis, Carlos Pacheco, Jose Villarubia, Marvel, Paul Mounts, Roger Martinez
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Brandon Peterson (Present), Roger Martinez (Pencils, Past) and Carlos Pacheco (Colours, past)
Colour by Paul Mounts and Jose Villarubia
Published by Marvel Comics
£2.85 (£1.99 with Super Card Go!)
Helicarrier club no more! In the future, Nick Fury’s kill team close in on what used to be Manhattan whilst in the past, Wolverine and a surprise partner struggle to decide whether or not to shatter the past in order to save the future…
Let’s talk about the art to begin with because the different artist for each time period is a smart idea. Martinez’ precise style is a good fit for the past sequences and he opens the page out quite a bit, which is a welcome change to the increasingly claustrophobic Hitch art of the previous issues. The downside comes, oddly, with Pacheco’s colours. They seem a little flat, and that robs the art of some of its impact. However, they both seem to be working in a deliberately ever so slightly retro style, meaning which is, I suspect deliberate. It means a couple of action beats don’t really pop, especially the Wolverine/Giant-Man fight, but it’s a smart idea.
In the present (Which is actually the future but who am I to argue with the credits page), Brandon Peterson gets to cut loose with a fight between Fury’s team and a swarm of Ultron drones. His sense of scale is bang on and bringing Mounts across from the previous art team helps a lot. Especially as my suspicions about the endless blue tones of the first half of the series have been borne out. The future is bathed in deep, yellows and oranges, the world polished to shine just like Ultron. It’s a weirdly pleasing, warm environment for the desperate fight to play out in, as Fury’s unit are systematically dismantled by the infinite waves of Ultron. That being said, some of the figure work is weirdly rough, with Captain America looking haggard and beaky on a couple of occasions and Red Hulk temporarily becoming almost all chest in one panel. Despite this though, the art team changeover works and the focus is on character rather than spectacle, as it needs to be at this point.
Because this is where everything changes. Bendis has carefully, too carefully for some, set up the new world order in the last five issues and here we get to see the two solutions to the problem play out. Fury’s team are slaughtered, within seconds of arriving in New York whilst in the past, Wolverine finds Hank Pym and…
The entire back of the issue is the fight between the two of them and it’s arguably the highlight of the story so far. Wolverine is upfront about the work Pym’s done, the good he’s achieved and how difficult this is. He’s also upfront about the fact that a choice between killing one man to stop Ultron and letting Ultron kill millions is no choice whatsoever. Pym, for his part, is a colossal (in both senses of the word) arrogant arse, just like he’s always been but somehow Bendis also manages to show him as an innocent. Hank Pym’s a genius and like all geniuses he’s never satisfied. That yearn for something better is admirable in every way apart from the fact that all roads lead to Ultron. To Bendis’ credit, Pym’s other less than finest hours aren’t even touched on and he’s content to show the man at a younger, more innocent (More formal, interestingly) time, unaware of what’s coming. It’s not Hank Pym’s fault, but it will be, and that’s why Wolverine wants to kill him.
And Sue Richards lets him. Travelling back with Wolverine to try and reason with him, she ends up being the deciding factor in the fight, holding Wolverine’s claws back as Pym begs for his life and Wolverine screams at her about what Pym’s done and what has to be done. Sue has always been one of the good souls of the Marvel universe, a character defined by her compassion and resilience and to have her here, at this ghastly moment in history, is genius. It also seals Pym’s fate, as she thinks of the billions of dead, lets Wolverine’s hand go and…changes everything. There’s no left handed splash page reveal this issue, no big twist on the last page, just a badly injured Wolverine waiting to heal up, a horrified Sue and Pym’s dead body. Everything’s changed. Four issues to go. I have no idea what’s coming and I’ve never been more invested in this series than I am right now.
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