Real Talk: 'Age of Ultron' #7 Presents a Mild DystopiaA comic review article by: Jamil Scalese, Shawn Hill, Sean Gonzalez
Jamil Scalese: One simple assassination and the Marvel Universe gets tossed into mild dystopia. Figures.
The new Age of Ultron centers on the last remaining pillars of the "Old Now," Wolverine and Invisible Woman, navigating their way back to the "Present" fresh from killing Henry Pym, a move made to prevent Ultron's creation. Their successful kill results in an askew world evidently hit hard by the absence of Pym and his contributions. Just about every hero from the "New Now" sports an injury, and the final page had me just a bit creeped out.
It's still unclear exactly how bad this new universe is, and exactly how Sue and Logan will mine their way out of this mountain of shit, but it's pretty fun watching them wade through their mistake. The turn this took last issue keeps veering left, so much so that there is no mention of the psycho robot mentioned in the title. It's a weird crossover, and I'm a sucker so I dig it. What do you guys think? Do you like AU #7? And if so, what the hell is wrong with you?
Shawn Hill: I think "mild dystopia" has got to be the best phrase to come out of this crossover yet. I agree the leftward veering you describe is Bendis staying on his toes as a writer; there are consequences to every action, and Wolverine and Sue's emotional one last week has had unforeseen ones that have left them more confused than ever. I like that it also makes the point that Ultron wasn't the only thing Hank ever did, that his errant creation didn't undo all the positive results of his brilliance over the years.
That's only fair, especially now that time travel is in the mix thanks to Dr. Doom's machine. I love that the Kree/Skrull war actually happened, opening up Earth for a world of shit long before Secret Invasion (something nearly as bad as the Chitauri version in Ultimates, apparently). The Logan vs. Logan battle was a pretty cool one this month, with a retro-Wolverine vs. the cynical mess ours has become. I also was happy to see Brandon Peterson break out his A-game, even if he did have to use it on such a motley crew of Avengers (Janet with Nega-bands, apparently, rather than Wasp-y powers, with no Pym to influence her? And dating a one-eyed Cyclops? I like it!). We get another reconfigured view of Alterna-Manhattan, and this one is almost in league with what Hitch was doing from the start.
Sean Gonzalez: Mild-dystopia? From what we've seen this place looks great. I, for one, can't understand why Logan and Sue didn't immediately come clean to The Defenders (Love it!) Colonel America even gave them the opportunity to explain!
Either way, I totally agree that we're a bit off kilter regarding the story. Everything going down seems like a bit much to cram in three issues before the end. I know I'm not alone in wanting to find out more regarding our war-torn veteran heroes but I doubt we'll find an excuse to see these folks again.
Regarding Bendis' overarching plan, I wonder why he'd choose to distract from Ultron in the event that's been built up as his ultimate conquest. If we were going to be dealing with alternate universe's and time travel, Marvel shoulda brought back Exiles again. Unless the idea is to have Ultron displaying ultimate control over time in addition to Earth, I'm not getting it.
Jamil: The original point is surely convoluted at this juncture, so much so that it's hard to understand how we got here. The event originally focused on the entire Marvel roster reeling after a massive defeat, now it's narrowed to two displaced heroes trying to make sense of a new set of rules. My favorite bit of irony is that they basically traded one technological overlord with daddy issues for another.
Peterson had a lackluster offering last issue, but given more to do this time around he presents us with a fantastic window into the Pym-less world. He does what an artist is supposed to do on a Bendis project and really goes hard on the splashes and provides us with superb acting to go with all the given back-and-forth convos between the characters. My favorite section is the double splash of Sue reacting to a Helicarrier infested NYC, a scene that mirrors a similar moment from the previous issue. Carlos Pacheco's opener is nothing to sneeze at either, drawing the Savage Land's creatures with the animalistic intensity they deserve. Last issue the duality of these two artists didn't work, but in issue #7 the intended disjointed harmony is achieved.
I'll give it to Bendis, it seems he's worked this one out, and he claims to have full backstories on each of the Defenders that grace this issue's cover (I'm hoping we get more on how the hell Scott Summers took over the mantle of his son). I've mentioned it before, and I think it's true of a lot of us comic readers, alternative universes and the like get me engaged. Still though, I'm with you, Sean -- where the hell is this going? It's apparent the series has moved far away from a killer AI story and is now serving the "glorious abuse of time-travel" motif that Marvel has been hinting at the last couple weeks. Don't get me wrong, I am fucking in love with that idea, it just that for the purposes of this event comics we're way off track. This story now serves its true master: company mandates. Submit or perish, fellas.
Shawn: The focus on Pym, and the value of his absence, could be read as a slow build-up to the Ant Man movie, I give you that. To the extent that anything about an Ant Man movie makes sense. But the thing is, corporate interference usually messes titles up (look at the drek the previous Justice League of America ended up with amidst promising runs from McDuffie and Robinson), and this time it might be doing the opposite. I can't say I'm in love with yet another version of "Ultron vs. Life" (just makes him a more metallic Thanos); but rifling through the Avengers/X-men history books is kind of fun. It worked for Busiek in Avengers Forever, and Bendis seems to be rolling with the mandates pretty well so far.
Sean: That's all well and good, but as a legitimate crossover that's got tie-ins, new character introductions, and the seeds for some new ongoing titles, I'd expect something polished and not seemingly tacked together.
Honestly, I don't mind this change of direction either, but my only complaint is that it doesn't look like we're reading a crossover event anymore. If we're all enjoying the dynamic between Sue and Wolvie as well as the introduction of these Alterna-Defenders, does it matter if the series doesn't seem to be addressing what it was built up to be? Then again, it's only been one issue since the death of Pym. We may very well see Ultron rip a hole into this universe too. (Actually that sounds awesome. I'm now hoping that's exactly what happens.)
Jamil: I'm suspecting that the first and second act won't come together until AU #10, which might make the payoff all the more impactful, or more likely, piss us off because of the meandering it took to get there.
I'm still on board, obviously since I already invested in seven issues and a handful of tie-ins, but if the series slows down for the next two issues merely to lay groundwork for the arrival of Angela I'm going to be massively disappointed.
Shawn: But, you guys, maybe Angela will totally rock!
Follow along with Age of Ultron with our other Real Talk reviews:
- Age of Ultron #1
- Age of Ultron #2
- Age of Ultron #3 (w/ Superior Spider-Man #6AU and Fantastic Four #5AU)
- Age of Ultron #4
- Age of Ultron #5 (w/ Avengers Assemble #14AU and Ultron #1AU
- Age of Ultron #6 (w/ Wolverine and the X-Men #27AU)
- Age of Ultron #7
- Age of Ultron #8 (w/ Avengers Assemble #15AU)
- Age of Ultron #9 (w/ Uncanny Avengers #8AU and Fearless Defenders #4AU)
- Age of Ultron #10