Review: Age of Ultron #1 By Brian Bendis and Bryan Hitch


Age of Ultron #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Neary, and Paul Mounts

The short of it:

New York is a vast wasteland of death and a giant mechanical city sits atop the remains. There are still people, barely; thugs using their weapons and drugs to get what they want. Women being used to placate what needs they have. And Hawkeye, angry, shooting to kill as he makes his way through the one populated house we know exists. Populated with junkies, thugs, would be rapists, The Owl, and Hammerhead; sure, but populated nonetheless. Clint opens fire and people start to die, and his badass cred goes through the bloody roof, but it’s all a rescue mission.

Hammerhead and Owl have a deal, they turn an Avenger over to the ‘Big Guy’ and they get a free pass. Hell, they’ve got one in the basement being worked over in preparation for a time when they need a bargaining chip. The Amazing Spider-Man works well at that, beaten and bloodied and tied to a chair. Hawkeye manages the save, but he still has to deal with the heavily armed former crime bosses. Man with crossbows versus guys with automatic weapons. Yeah, I know, they didn’t stand a chance against Clint Barton, but the chance never comes up. Everything starts to shake. The Ultrons are here, and they don’t care about whatever deal Own and Hammerhead think they have. They level the place, Clint takes down one. ONE.

They go back to ‘base’ and we see what’s left of the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Angry, untrusting, beaten down, and adamant that they told Clint he couldn’t come back if he left. He’s pissed, he just save Spider-Man and he’s taking flak for not hiding. They have no plan, and their leader is a broken husk of a man.

This is the Age of Ultron.

What I liked:

  • By dumping us right into the middle of things Bendis has alleviated the stress of having to make perfect sense of how things got so bad so fast; which is especially helpful since I can’t imagine that the story would have gone perfectly smoothly if he tried to actually show off the downfall of the heroes.
  • This version of Clint would drive me insane in canonical comics, but man, it’s amazing how much better an archer works when they make no attempt to disguise that the weapon they’re using was designed to kill. Eyes, mouths, throats, foreheads; in the Age of Ultron, Hawkeye shoots to kill, and it REALLY works.
  • Does anybody remember when I said America’s Got Powers is the best work I’ve seen out of Hitch since Ultimates 2? This wins. This issue is carried from start to finish on the strength of the art, as the story really isn’t that strong. The book looks phenomenal, and is a stark reminder of why Hitch has been widely regarded as one of their chief stud artists over the last decade. This is pure blockbuster.
  • Paul Mounts coloring a big event just feels right. I don’t normally give colorists nearly as much love as I should, but I’ve met Paul a few times and he’s a hell of a guy. He’s one of the best colorists in the industry, and he always does great work when paired up with Hitch. Something else you might not know about him? Nobody has worked on more issues of Fantastic Four. Ever. He came on board with Mark Waid and the late, great, Mike Wieringo back in 2002. And now he’s coloring the Age of Ultron. Keep kicking ass, Paul!

What I didn’t like:

  • There is no impact. At all. Everything is established with flashy visuals, and the characterization and actual plot are left as after thoughts. For as much emotion as Bendis tries to get out of the reader, he fails to give the reader a reason to feel anything.
  • Why would Hammerhead get a briefcase full of money to run away with? What good is money?
  • I don’t eat when I read, but this issue gave me a terrible craving for popcorn. I only like that feeling in trade.

Final thoughts:

Man, how drugged did Spidey have to be to be completely out like that? At first I thought they were mainlining his blood and calling it MGH, but now I think they were just injecting him with anything to keep him docile.

The shaky art is kinda awesome. At first it gave me a headache, but now it just looks great. You really get the feeling that everything is shaking, and it channels some visual effects right out of a movie.

Why are the Ultrons gold? I can fully understand Ultron ruling the world, that’s been a long time coming, but why the color change? SILVER PRIDE!

Wolverine is in his Hooded Man costume from Hitch and Mark Millar’s Fantastic Four run. Love it.

So far this series is a Michael Bay movie, but unlike AVX, it has the makings of a good Michael Bay movie. I know, I know, there’s no such thing as a good Michael Bay movie, but come on people, the man made The Rock! And I don’t mean the WWE Champion Dwayne Johnson! It’s a lot of flash with not a lot of substance, but you do get the feeling that the substance is coming soon and there will be a ton of it.

It’s just very jarring to go right into the deep end like this, don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I’m just so unaccustomed to this type of story telling lately.

Overall: 7.5/10

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