“I’m not going to let what happened change the value of my life and shame on the rest of you. Shame on you for giving up…”
We’ve barely let the changes of Marvel Now! fully sink in but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for another cross-over event to shake up the status quo right? Well, ready or not, the snow is starting to melt and that means it’s time for another Marvel wide cross-over spectacular. But is Age of Ultron worth the next 5 months of our undivided focus? Easy answer; yes, so far.
Instead of a jumble of writers and a sea of lead-in specials, Age of Ultron: Book One is a more personal epic. It appears to be telling a tale, not an event, and series writer, and five-time Eisner Award winner Brian Michael Bendis, wastes no time in getting to the heart of the story. The premise is simple; Hank Pym invented Ultron, a super-intelligent AI that hates all of humanity and longs to destroy it and judging by the first panel, which features the New York City skyline in ruin, he has. Book One sets the premise up nicely while giving nothing away. This issue narrows the focus on Hawkeye who is still good at shooting people and, despite the wishes from what’s left of the Avengers, he chooses to save Spider-Man from torture and certain death.
Bendis is a writer who respects comic readers. We know these characters inside and out and he knows it. This is a great introduction to the world and Book One isn’t bogged down by melodrama or back story. And just when you wonder how Earth’s mightiest heroes could end up so broken, you turn to that last page and see all hope lying shattered on the floor.
Hitch’s cinemascope style is great as his wide-screen panelling really drives home that ‘epic’ feel. There’s a hint of nostalgia as well, as those who are familiar with Hitch’s work on The Ultimates can feel right at a home with his display of Hawkeye’s bad-assery. However it’s not all perfect as some of the faces tend to look muddled in what appears to be panel favouritism; some panels seem to be just there to get to the next one. But the action looks great and the colour palette is spot-on. Heavy greys and blues really add to the atmosphere, and the splashes of each heroes signature colours sets them apart and lets us know who to root for.
Whether you’ve been jaded in the past by the intrusive nature of big event comics, Age of Utron: Book One is a step in the right direction. Knowing that Bendis is taking the helm shows singular focus and respect for the story, one that Bendis has been preparing for years. Age of Ultron dives head first into post-apocalyptic territory and pulls no punches. This could be the event we never wanted, but have always hoped for.