Review: 'What If? Age of Ultron' #5 Bringing it All Back Home?

A comic review article by: Shawn Hill, Jamil Scalese

Jamil Scalese: Like a cool beverage on a hot, lazy day this finale hit the spot.

Issue to issue we've both found this series a little more original and engaging than its source material, last year's Age of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis. The one-off stories by Joe Keatinge and the rotating artists have been diverse and unpredictable. Yet, I think we've hoped the whole project had a little connectivity and cohesiveness. We got our wish granted hard in issue #5, mi amigo.

Black Widow, Goddess of Thunder

The latter half of Age of Ultron centered on Wolverine's murder of Hank Pym before he could create Ultron and this issue takes a similar approach but instead of offing Pym it presents a world void of the idea of Ultron. Naturally, this place captures the attention of Ultimate Conqueror Ultron and his servant Ultron-Pym (Ultron-1321) from issue #1's Wasp-less universe and being evil dickheads they escape their dying world for the one we find in issue #5. Romping through the multiverse like a Hulk in a china shop Ultron visits all the previous universes we saw in issue #2-4 and picks up Sailor Wolverine, Mjolnir-wielding Black Widow and Ava, the Captain America Initiative member with the Frank Castle fetish, along the way.

That annoying time migraine impetus gets no explanation but dismissing that small detail I loved how Keatinge and the various artists from the series brought everything together for a satisfying conclusion. I can't remember the last time a miniseries kept me on my toes like this.


Shawn Hill: I enjoyed it too, though I did think the issues had wild swings in quality. The whole Multiverse-al “explanation” (isn’t that usually more of DC concept?) swept away any real logical connection between events. Something to do with Dr. Doom and his time platform being on the fritz, connected only tenuously to the original series? In fact, though we got plenty of Wolverine, we got very little of Sue Storm this time out, and she was a pivotal player, too. She made an appearance, but in a moment where Reed appeared uncharacteristically flummoxed.

I expected this issue to offer a different version of Hank Pym’s demise, but I suppose that would defeat the concept. Instead we have wild world-hopping that felt a little bit like flailing, and our core heroes fleeing to the one non-Ultron overrun alternative. Which is a very sci-fi plot, actually, but I don’t know if it makes sense with the Avengers mentality. That's a pretty big step, to just count your losses and restart from scratch.

Still, Wasp’s dialogue and pep talks this issue were stirring, and Keatinge’s attempts to tie together each of the installments thus far was an effort much appreciated. It was brilliant to fold back in the original artists for a jam issue that made a lot of sense, conceptually. Even if we did end up in another variation of the post-apocalyptic future so common when you ask What If? At least it was one that made sense given what we’ve seen of this pocket Ultron-iverse that Keatinge created, and it had a modicum of hope.


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