Review: Age of Ultron #9 By Brian Bendis, Carlos Pacheco, and Brandon Peterson

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Age of Ultron #9

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Carlos Pacheco, Brandon Peterson, Roger Bonet, Paul Mounts, and Jose Villarrubia

 

The short of it:

Remember last issue when the helicarrier crashed into New York in a giant boom? Well, that’s how this issue open, with the city getting blown to bits and EVERYONE BEING DEAD. Except for Wolverine, our Wolverine, who is just missing most of a leg and has to wait a week for everything to grow back. So he can get attacked by the evil magic Doombots before we find out that Emperor Iron Man is also alive, kinda…sorta…he can ankle grab and talk. Well, not really talk so much as warn about how time is alive and you can’t screw with it or it screws you back, and really just showing a lot of knowledge about something he hasn’t done before. Then he dies.

Years ago we relive the moment when Wolverine decided it was time to gut Hank Pym like a fish, only this time his past self shows up to knock out Sue and go after himself in her place. So at the moment when Sue would have temporarily saved Hank, before being stripped of her resolve due to the thoughts of her children, in walks Whisker Mask Wolverine. He actually proves more effective than Sue, as she had to use her powers at full strength to restrain Wolverine, but this momentary distraction gets Hank freed. They discuss what has to be done while Hank just sits there confused and trying to work it out. Because with his assassination attempt thwarted, he’s just intrigued by this conversation between two of the same guy.

Whisker Mask Wolverine pitches him Iron Man’s idea of “put in a fail safe that shuts him down for Age of Ultron but leaves him around for everything else so we don’t destroy continuity”. All this talking, however, is just giving Pym ideas on how to build Ultron, but unlike the last time around, he actually has someone explaining to him WHY this is a bad idea (instead of stabbing him). His main issue is that now he knows this stuff, and he’s going to want to change this stuff, and Sue shows up to be all “You have to forget it”. Everyone starts to deal with migraines and brain explosions as they slowly realize that they have a lot of ideas but no planned executions, but they figure something out off panel. Because our time travelers all head to the Savage Land where the Wolverine’s have a decision to make. You can’t have both of them running around, so one of them has to take care of the other.

A Wolverine emerges from the cave, claws bloody, and is ready to head home and see if they did it. While meanwhile Hank Pym sits in his lab as Ultron comes to life for the very first time.

 

What I liked:

  • Man, Carlos Pacheco is like a breath of fresh air. Not to knock Brandon Peterson, who I’ve unfortunately been insulting the abilities of for no fault of his own (it’s not his fault he isn’t Bryan Hitch), but Pacheco is just what the doctor ordered here. He nails the old school flavor of the art while keeping everything nice and clean. The bright colors and non-gritty characters is very welcome.

  • It isn’t confirmed, but it is heavily hinted at, but the mind wipe Ultron gave Pym back in his first appearance is someone Hank planned on so he would forget the stuff he was meant to forget. That’s actually a really clever use of established continuity if it winds up happening.

  • I actually really like that they used Whisker Mask Wolverine, Pacheco draws the hell out of that look.

  • And Bendis writes the hell out of Hank Pym. I mean, really, in Hank’s two issues thus far he’s been the Hank I want to read a book starring.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • The original solicited cover for this issue had Hooded Man Wolverine getting stabbed by Whisker Mask Wolverine, but now it’s Hooded Man stabbing Hooded Man. This made me think that we’d be seeing a double dose of Hooded Man, but nope, Whisker Mask. Why change a cover that is totally accurate? It just doesn’t make sense.

  • Like Wolverine needing five days passed out to regrow his leg below the knee around his adamantium bones. I’ve seen dude regrow more than that after being burned alive by the sun in less time.

  • And the convenient plot device of “Let’s do what Tony said despite it requiring Wolverine to have to explain smart people talk to a guy he just STABBED”.

  • Even when talking to himself from a week ago, Wolverine is the most cryptic fucking time traveler ever. He’s super vague and uses little known secrets to make him believe himself, but how hard would it be to say “I’m you in six days. This goes horribly.”

  • This wasn’t the first issue of the series to use a sweeping time travel retcon to say “LULZ! NEVER HAPPENED!”

 

Final thoughts:

The moral of this story is that no matter what you do, someone is going to show up in New York and murder everyone.

The other moral is that time travel stories are great excuses to spend many issues doing whatever you want with the freedom to retcon them into nothingness when you’re done.

The more of this book I read, the more I think about ways it could have been shorter. It’s needlessly decompressed for no real apparent story reason (in other words, to sell more issues), and even the not-awful issues have that padded feel to them. This was issue nine of ten, but this series has yet to really provide me with half of that in terms of content. Had this been a tightly paced five issues, I think all the complaints would be gone. Well, alright, not ALL of them, but at least some of them.

I do like how giving Hank a chance to know why he’s being executed leads to him trying to think up ways to not screw everything up. I mean, yes, he still screws everything up (he has to), but at least if they were to have cut his head off at this point he’d know what he did to deserve it. Despite having two Wolverines from different points of time doing the worlds worst ever job at explaining anything. Seriously, there’s vague and there’s these guys. Just give someone a direct answer!

Man, those are some crappy sentries. There is ONE survivor, but you don’t attack him because he’s sleeping off his near death experience. For FIVE days. Seriously, dude wakes up and is instantly attacked, so what were they doing, waiting for a fair fight? Do their sensors only pick up the awake?

Ripped in half not-quite Emperor Tony sure is a master at understanding time travel. For a guy who was positive that these time travelers must have been agents of his magical foe, that’s pretty…dumb. I mean, he knows all about how you unravel time into nothingness via changing it, something he seemingly has never tried to do, and it’s just…yes, you need a smart person to tell Logan he’s been screwing up, but at no point do I believe that Stark is doing anything other than speaking out of his ass.

You know what’s a shame? Bendis never really wrote Hank Pym for any extended period of time. He’s the best written character in this issue, and combined with his last near death experience, he’s had some really solid characterization. He would have been such a great fit on some Avengers roster, but instead Dan Slott kept writing him and…you know what? Complaint removed. Initiative and Mighty Avengers were both great.

I really miss The Initiative. And Avengers Academy. Damnit, I guess I’m going all in on Avengers A.I., Pym in a leadership role never seems to disappoint me.

 

Overall: 6/10

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