Age of Ultron #10 (Comic) Review

Age of Ultron #10 (Comic) Review

The Age of Ultron has been a fascinating look at the way a story can change over the course of ten issues. The series started as a post-apocalyptic look at what would happen if the evil A.I. Ultron finally won the day and conquered the human race.

This tale was a bleak, Days of Future Past-like glance at the future of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Then somewhere around the midpoint the narrative switched gears, and became a time travel story in which Wolverine and Susan Storm travel back in time to stop the robot menace from ever being created.

Now, diversity in a story is not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem with such a wildly changing approach is that it has prevented Age of Ultron from ever really establishing an identity. This all comes to a head in Age of Ultron #10, which under the weight of erratic storytelling ultimately fails to satisfy.

The individual scenes that writer Brian Michael Bendis crafts are all effective, but when they are put together side-by-side they don’t add up to a fulfilling closing chapter. The Avengers’ big battle with Ultron is well staged, but with all the time travel machinations happening it also feels like an afterthought. This kind of epic, event-ending throwdown should come with a sense of catharsis, but it ends up falling flat because for the last five issues or so the big bad has been on the back burner. On a positive note, Bendis continues to write Henry Pym beautifully. The character’s awkward yet kind personality and severe intelligence are often lost in lesser depictions, but here Bendis gets it just right.

Marvel employed seven art teams in order to get the book out on time, so the look of Age of Ultron #10 is too varied in style to feel like a cohesive package. That isn’t to say that each of the individual pencillers isn’t doing fine work, but it’s hard to stay connected to a character when they change their look. Not just between books of an event, but within the issue itself. There are two pages however that, despite their resemblance to pages from DC’s Infinite Crisis, are breathtaking in detail and incredibly powerful in their imagery.

The main problem with the way Age of Ultron wraps itself up is that it fails to deliver on the expectations it has created for itself. We were promised all or nothing stakes in an everything-is-going-to-change-type conclusion and yet what we received was an event without any real consequence. Yes, there is now a fundamental disturbance in the overall Marvel multiverse, but Bendis merely hints at what this could mean. So, without any hard answers as to what comes next, what we are left with is something that is a setup for future events rather than a great ending to this one.

Iron Man by Joe Quesada TPB

Iron Man by Joe Quesada TPB

Marvel Comics’ collections department is a fairly well oiled machine at this point, and when Marvel movies are on the horizon, they smartly time a number of releases to hit the shelves in and around the release dates of new films. This collection is one such example of new Iron Man collections hitting shelves over the next few months, leading up to the much-hyped release of Iron Man 3. This new collection brings together Iron Man (v3) #1/2, 26-32 and Iron Man Annual 2000, under the name Iron Man by Joe Quesada. Back when Bob Harras was still Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada had enjoyed success as the Editor of the Marvel Knights line, and in 2000 started writing Iron Man. His run on the title was relatively brief (as his last few issues were co-written with Frank Tieri), and he had the unenviable task of following Kurt Busiek on the book, who’d had a very successful run, but nonetheless he hit the book hard and made quite a splash.

ironmanguy.jpgFor fans of Iron Man in this era, Quesada is remembered as the writer who introduced the concept of an Iron Man armour gaining sentience, and Tony Stark struggling to come to terms not just with what it meant for him, but also to contain this creation of his. Artificial intelligence is common in the Marvel Universe, and often it corrupts or goes bad, but this was Tony Stark becoming trapped in his own armour, which was obsessed with him, and making Iron Man as a force for good more effective than it had ever been before.

Quesada does a brilliant job in writing the initial storyline with the sentient armour, as each and every issue ends with a fantastic cliffhanger. The first issue closes with Tony waking up in hospital after a battle as Iron Man and discovering that his identity was discovered the night before. The next issue ends as Tony Stark discovers his armour is sentient and he’s suffered a heart attack, while the third ends with Iron Man killing a long-time villain as Tony is trapped, helpless within the armour. Each issue has a story to tell, in building this multi-issue storyline that is quite powerful. The collection closes with the Sons of Yinsen storyline that was in Iron Man #31-32 and Iron Man Annual 2000, and they’re not bad in terms of concept, but the actual execution is a bit off. The storyline involves the revelation that Wong-Chu, the man responsible for keeping Tony Stark captive and inadvertently creating Iron Man in the first place, is still alive. Make no mistake, if you’re purchasing this volume, you’re doing so for Iron Man #26-30, and it’s well-worth it.

As a fan of the Iron Man comic during this period, I was a huge fan of Sean Chen’s take on the armoured Avenger. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of the Sentient Armour storyline that Chen left the book, but he was ably replaced with Alitha Martinez. In looking back at this storyline, the two of them provided one hell of a one-two punch in the art department, and although I did prefer Chen’s artwork, Martinez made a great impression on the book, and definitely did a great job on the closing chapters of the Sentient Armour storyline.

The sentient armour issues are among my favourites from this particular volume and era of Iron Man comics, and were only previously collected briefly in a now long-out-of-print trade paperback from the early 2000s. Finally, those issues are reprinted in high-quality glossy stock, and the reproductions look fantastic. The Sons of Yinsen storyline isn’t near the high level of quality in the first storyline, but it’s still most definitely worth owning. Highly Recommended!