So I think that Age of Ultron has basically become a less extreme Age of Apocalypse for the entire Marvel universe. There are lots of familiar faces in this issue, but they’re not who they seem. Luckily, there is a handy guide to the new incarnations of characters that show up in Age of Ultron #7. Brian Bendis throws some legitimate surprises and plot twists in this chapter of Age of Ultron. He has gone from his earlier work on the series which was a bunch of sitting around and debating ethics with a little splash of action at the end to turning the event into a plot and action-driven albeit with a lot of dialogue. Brandon Peterson’s art is also better suited for this brand of storytelling than Bryan Hitch who basically only drew bleak, futuristic cityscapes with androids flying around.
The story begins with yet another moral debate as Sue Richards tells Wolverine that Hank Pym’s creation of Ultron did some good things for the Marvel Universe, like “fathering” Vision who married the Scarlet Witch. However, Bendis doesn’t choose to dwell on this, but returns Sue and Wolverine back to the present. “Past” artist Carlos Pacheco does get to give the reader an excellent parting gift of a T-Rex attack and soaring pterodactyls as the story moves on to the present and possibly future. I’ll miss his retro-Bronze Age stylings and hope Marvel puts him on an X-Men book set in the 1970s.
Brandon Peterson’s artistic vision of this alternate “present” looks like Blade Runner, but without the noir elements and the constant raining. Paul Mounts also uses a subtle color palette on the cityscapes putting most of his work in the garish costumes of this universe’s superhero team called The Defenders. This team is a verbose bunch, but they make their presence known through bombastic action instead of the exposition overload we got earlier in this event. Peterson really cuts loose with his costume design borrowing from different eras of Marvel comics, ranging from Wolverine’s brown costume in the 1980s to Cable’s pouch look in the 1990s, and Captain Marvel’s costume from the current Kelly Sue DeConnick run. Through the quick fire dialogue during the fight scenes, we learn a little about the state of things in this alternate universe. The Defenders’ Wolverine is a bit more feral, Reed and Sue Richards are missing, and someone very unlikely is in charge of things. Bendis doesn’t make this new universe a complete dystopia, like “Days of Future Past”, but whets the reader’s appetite just enough before dropping a cliffhanger for the next issue.
In the last couple issues, Bendis has picked up the pace of Age of Ultron, and the art hasn’t dropped in quality since Bryan Hitch’s departure after issue #6. After the shocked events of last issue, he drops the reader right into a brave new world unlike anything we’ve ever seen from Marvel. But he also makes room to develop characters. The fight and conversation between the two Wolverines sums up that character perfectly. There are familiar elements from stories like Age of Apocalypse, “Days of Future Past” (Wolverine and underrated female character pairing), and even Secret Invasion, but Bendis has placed his own stamp on this event that could have some big ramifications for the actual Marvel Universe. Peterson also shines in the art, not just in the set pieces, costumes, and cityscapes, but also in the smaller character moments. No one draws a better terrified Sue Storm than him.