Review: Age of Ultron (Spoiler Warning but I will do my best to minimize this.)
Marvel movies fans all love the Marvel cinematic and in particular the Avengers. And for good reason, the entire movie is fantastic. Are there flaws? Yes, however, there will be flaws in EVERY movie if you look hard enough. The point being Marvel Studios did a great thing and made a movie that blew all expectations out of the water. So much so that the Avengers fandom is all excitedly waiting for the second movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and are ready to have their minds blown out of the water again. However, if the movie is anything like the Marvel comics event of the same name then we all need to be prepared for a very confusing event that may or may not affect the movies.
First things first the art is fantastic. Aside from being clear and concise enough that you can always make out what is going on but it captures the mood of the story perfectly. This is a story where everything that could have possibly gone wrong not only did go wrong, but in the worse way possible and all the various artists did a great job in capturing this feeling. It’s odd because a book with four or five different artists would usually have made the book feel inconsistent but here it works.
It’s hard keeping track of the characters and their growth in this book. A lot of well written characters are either not used very long or replaced with warped versions of themselves. Especially when the major events in this book begin to unfold, it really makes some of the characters feel useless.
This all leads to the meat of this book which is the same as the meat of every work of fiction: the story. Earth lays in ruins with a high percentage of the human population is dead or near death. The superheroes sworn to protect the planet have also drastically dwindled drastically. Big guns like the Hulk and Thor have fallen. But what caused all of this? Ultron, the maniacal and evil robot bent on conquering the world has managed to take over the entire planet in a matter of days.
The weird thing about this story is that we don’t actually see Ultron take over. You only get that information in the tie-in issues to Age of Ultron (which I have after making purchase mistake). This both works and doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work for me because, in reading event comics, one of the more interesting aspects is seeing how far the world gets into chaos before being pulled out of it. This time the earth starts off as totally S.O.L and has to be pulled from the brink.
It works because we get to see our heroes do their hardest to bring an end to the ensuing chaos. Not that it seems to help. We see Ultron has literally millions of copies of himself all over the globe and he has been constructing huge…doom fortresses over the major cities of the world. The Avengers are scattered across the globe, while the bulk of the Avengers are in New York others are trapped in San Francisco and Chicago. They all collectively decide to move to Antarctica to make a new plan. Black Widow (part of the San Francisco group) discovers Nick Fury’s emergency bunker (and he apparently has a lot) and finds the location of the BIGGEST bunker. The Red Hulk gets his huge, hulk hands on an Ultron drone and learns a secret about the big bad robot.
However, once everyone gets to Antarctica that is when the plot goes off the rails. It turns out that Ultron (that is the main body) is sending his agents from the future to attack. This revelation is what brings up the king of creating plot holes; time travel. The brilliant plan Nick Fury and Tony Stark come up with is this: they take the heaviest and stealthiest hitters they have left, invade Ultron’s main headquarters in the future, and save the day. This plan alone raises a lot of questions. How do they know they are going to the right future? Will going into the future matter since Ultron already has his agents all over the world? During the mission Iron Man admits to Nick Fury that Susan Richards (Ms. Fantastic) and her powers to render them all invisible would be useless…so how had she been hiding them earlier in the story?
This is the biggest problem in the whole Age of Ultron event, the plot holes and minor inconsistencies. It would be hard to discuss them without spoiling the story but there are a lot more than the Invisible Woman’s role.
The other problem I have with this story is a lack of feeling like we are supposed to care. Every great story gives the reader some level of emotional investment to what they are reading as a way of better hooking them into the world they are trying to immerse themselves in. However, and especially with the time travel aspect, the whole story becomes harder to become invested in. My favorite Marvel character was killed during this, brought back to life, and killed AGAIN throughout the story which only gave me a headache. Time travel can be used in fiction (see shows like Doctor Who for that) and still immerse the audience but here it falls flat.
Overall, Age of Ultron is a decent story in its own right. It has a unique setup, followed characters that we rarely see spotlighted, has great artwork, and has helped to get me ready for the movie. However, it does have plot problems and the time travel element serves to make things more confusing and emotionally draining. I recommend everyone read it, but you have been warned.