Or – “Weekly Books Make Everything A Blur…”

Marvel’s current publishing strategy isn’t one that every company can pull off, but it’s one they’ve had success with since the 80s: Put out as much product as you can, as quickly as you can.  With Hickman’s Avengers, it’s been pretty successful.  With Age of Ultron, well…

Your Major Spoilers review awaits.

AgeOfUltron4CoverAGE OF ULTRON #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Artist: Paul Neary
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Age Of Ultron: The world has been taken over by Ultron, crazy-pants artificial intelligence and creation of founding Avenger Hank Pym.  Ultron has taken over the world, and the remaining few heroes have been forced to live underground in order to survive.  In a world where rogue robots patrol the skies killing all humans, Wolverine and Kitty Pryde She-Hulk and Luke Cage have slipped behind enemy lines on a mission to save all humanity…

MURDER, MOST FOUL…

As we saw at the end of last issue, Luke Cage took the She-Hulk to Ultron, intending to trade her for some sort of favor in the new robo-pocalypse, only to find not Ultron, but Ultron’s “offspring,” The Vision.  The disemboweled Vision hangs as a centerpiece of Ultron’s nerve-center, as much a prisoner as the rest of the heroes, making for a truly horrific moment as we open this issue.  Unfortunately, Hitch and Neary’s work downplays the inherent horror of the of the situation with a scratchy and blotchy Vision who doesn’t really look particularly human at all.  Their Luke Cage is likewise difficult, especially his future haircut.  She-Hulk’s awful hair is a little bit better, and when she gives up the ruse, the issue gets its first moment of life.  Leaping into action, she literally chucks Cage out of harm’s way (several BLOCKS out of harm’s way) before taking on an army of Ultrons herself.  In a moment that is completely unexpected (in a good way), the Ultron-drones blow her brains out ON-PANEL, leaving an anguished Vision to watch as his comrade falls dead.  It works dramatically, and is the first real surprise in four issues of this miniseries.

WAIT, HOW DID THEY *ALL* KNOW?

Things continue at high-speed from there, and it’s good to see the book getting it’s groove on for the first time.  The former Power Man opens up the floodgates on his rage, and begins cutting a swatch through Ultrons, only for the robots to respond… WITH A NUCLEAR STRIKE.  It’s a moment of overkill both in-universe and out, but one that builds the tension for high stakes.  Captain America’s squad escapes New York thanks to the powers of Storm and the Invisible Woman (neither of whom are actually Avengers, amusingly), while Red Hulk is forced to kill his ally in Chicago, and Black Widow discovers the secret of Nick Fury’s hidden plan for what to do when the world ends.  Unfortunately, that involves heading for the Savage Land in Antarctica, a dicey proposition at best.  There’s some strangeness to the plot, though, as (even though there is evidently no way for her to communicate this information) all our various factions converge on Ka-Zar’s hidden world some eight days later.  As the issue ends, The Black Widow informs her pals that, thanks to Fury’s files, they know how to save the world.

THE BOTTOM LINE: STILL PRETTY GLIB, BUT AN IMPROVEMENT…

We still don’t know when this is, but now that the story has finally started moving (and know that we know that Ultron’s end-game involves time-travel) I’m a bit more forgiving this time around.  The narrative flow is unusual, but Bendis manages to avoid some of his regular pitfalls in dialogue and plotting, even if there are still problems with both.  The heroes utter hopelessness is demonstrated rather than just yackety-yacked about, which helps as well.  Still, I don’t understand quite how the characters were able to coordinate, although with Emma Frost in Cap’s group, it’d be easy to explain it with a few lines of dialogue.  Age Of Ultron #4 makes a drastic improvement over previous issues by actually doing something, and demonstrating the live-or-die stakes that the heroes face, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  There are two scenes that pull this book up past the previous three, and more stuff like that could conceivably make me think of this as more than just a retread of ‘Days Of Future Past…’

Rating: ★★★☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


Reader Rating

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. Mark
    April 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm — Reply

    “Oh my god they nuked Cagey”
    “you Bastards”

  2. April 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    Actually, wasn’t Storm ON the Avengers for like five minutes before AVX happened?
    Also, I’m finding Age of Ultron only slightly less bleh than Fear Itself was.

    • April 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm — Reply

      Well, there was a big announcement, but she never actually appeared with them after it, as I recall…

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