Age of Ultron #10
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Alex Maleev, Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice, Brandon Peterson (cover), Carlos Pacheco, David Marquez, Joe Quesada
Colorists: Paul Mounts, Richard Isanove
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Because of the events and format of this book, it is extremely hard to write about. The last issue and ending of Age of Ultron #10 will be debated about for years to come by Marvel fans. However, I actually enjoyed this issue which finally had a fight with Ultron, some great characterization of Hank Pym, and events that will affect all the Marvel books across the board. There are some weak points, like Alex Maleev’s art clashing with the other pencilers’ and the Angela reveal being a little underwhelming, but I think that Bendis stuck the landing and wrapped up all the main plot points of Age of Ultron while leaving room for developments in future books.
The highlight of this issue is its tight plot. Bendis likes to meander and have his character chat it up for a few issues before they do anything, but this issue is all business. The reader gets to see the rise of Ultron which happened a little before Age of Ultron #1 and the effects of the time virus that Wolverine told Hank Pym about earlier. Unlike the previous issues, in which there has been an over-emphasis on Wolverine at the expense of characters like Pym and Ultron, we see the consequences of Wolverine’s actions and not him doing more things. These consequences are literally universe shattering and tie into plot threads in some of Bendis’ other books, like All-New X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and last summer’s Spider-Men event. It is great to see a time-travel event that actually has an effect on the Marvel universe and doesn’t end with a deus ex machina or a reset button. Bendis’ work on Age of Ultron paves the way for different kinds of stories to be told about the Marvel Universe starting with Mark Waid’s Age of Ultron #10A.I. and followed by Joshua Hale Fialkov’s Hunger and Sam Humphries’ Avengers A.I.
As well as the plot which actually makes sense in light of the entire miniseries, the issue did an excellent job exploring Hank Pym’s character and even developing it a little bit. Hank understands that he’s made mistakes in trying to create artificial intelligence as well as his relationship with Wasp and tries to fix them. His intelligence shines in the battle against Ultron where his knowledge of the robot proves extremely helpful. His conversations with Tony Stark and Hank McCoy reveal his ability to hold his own or even supersede his geniuses. However, he doesn’t completely change at the end, but wants to do A.I. more responsibly. He says this earlier in the series when Wolverine and Sue visit him in his lab in the 1970s, but this version of Hank Pym has seen multiple timelines and the effects of his creations and means it in a different way. Even if the Age of Ultron doesn’t hold up, Bendis has rescued Pym as a character and given future writers the ability to explore his character in greater depth.
This book has seven pencillers, and for the most part, their work flows together well. Bryan Hitch and inker Paul Neary show off their ability to show epic superhero battles in wide panels as the Avengers take on a team of scientist supervillains and then Ultron. They don’t depict the entire battle, but Butch Guice does an excellent job mimicking Hitch’s wide panels art. His lines are also cleaner, and while Hitch and Neary focus on detailed panels, Guice focus on storytelling with each panel moving the plot forward. However, though he has done good work with Bendis on Daredevil, Moon Knight, and other books, Alex Maleev’s pencils clash with the other artists. His Hank Pym looks different than the other artist’s renditions, and his grittier style doesn’t work in a superhero science fiction story. But despite this, the art shines in this issue with a pair of beautiful two page spreads that act as the climax of the story.
Even though Angela seems shoehorned in as a generic outside threat (though beautifully drawn by Joe Quesada), Age of Ultron has a solid ending. Bendis and the artists craft a story that affects the entire Marvel Universe. They may have lost a few battles in this event, but they win the war and show that a comic event can be told without having loads of tie-ins or running into every book. It is a story where actions, like meddling with the space time continuum or artificial intelligence, have consequences. Even though it is not the most reader friendly series, Age of Ultron (especially #10) is a treat for hardcore Marvel fans in the way it warps continuity and characters from the 1960s to the present. It is also one a few alternate universe stories that affects the main timeline immediately. This book could be the prelude of a Crisis of Infinite Earths type of event for Marvel that involves the entire multiverse.