Top critical review
28 people found this helpful
on 4 September 2013
There may be spoilers ahead...
In the mid to late 1980s, 2000AD published a Judge Dredd story called "City of the Damned", where Dredd travelled to the future in order to confront the Judge Child who had taken over Mega City One and destroyed it. Dredd fixed the problem by going back in time and killing the Judge Child at its point of creation, thereby re-writing history, despite having witnessed the nightmare future.
At the time, I recall thinking that I'd been cheated out of a great ending back then. It was still a great story, but it was an anti-climatic ending for me.
History has all but repeated itself. No pun intended.
From the mind and keyboard of Brian Michael Bendis, the one writer who seems to polarise Marvel fans across the world, comes a Marvel event that promised much, but delivered very little.
This is an epic 10-issue story, with associated tie-ins here and there, where Ultron, the artificial intelligence and all-round nasty villain created by Avenger Hank Pym, has finally eradicated most of the human race, including decimating most of the superhero community, and the survivors must pull out all the stops in order to stop Ultron once and for all.
It sounds good, you might think. Well, parts of it are, but unfortunately it's all a bit of a mess and has served one purpose and one purpose only - introduce a new character (Angela - more about her later) on the very last page.
The story kicks off in New York City with Ultron having already won. The city is in ruins and a huge, futuristic robotic city is in its place. It's a bit like Skynet's city in Terminator: Salvation. Civilisation is all but wiped out although Ultron has allowed pockets of humans to live in order to spy and capture any superheroes that might still be alive. One such transaction is about to go down with Spiderman all beat up and ready to be turned over, until Hawkeye rescues him.
We then find a group of heroes in hiding (more appear later on) and it all looks a bit menacingly like the end of the world for all concerned.
We never do see Ultron's invasion, which is disappointing, although we glimpse a part of it in a Spidey flashback. It's not just NYC either. A disfigured Black Widow and Moon Knight are hiding from the devastation in San Francisco whilst Red Hulk, Black Panther and Taskmaster take on Ultron's sentinels in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Captain America comes up with a plan back in NYC that involves Luke Cage delivering a wounded She-Hulk right into the heart of Ultron City. We then discover that Ultron is controlling things from the future using the Vision as his conduit.
After some deaths, the survivors escape to the Savage Land where Ultron's influence hasn't spread yet. Here they find Nick Fury who has a plan to use Dr Doom's time machine (he just happens to have it) to stage an assault against the big U in the future. A strike team is assembled and off they go.
Wolverine, however, has other plans. He uses the time platform to go backwards in time to kill Hank Pym before he creates Ultron.
This is where it gets a bit confusing. With Pym dead, and there's no Ultron, there are associated paradoxes that fall out from this. As Wolverine heads back to present day, he finds a world completely different, where the Avengers broke up after Pym's death, and magic won in the battle with technology. Morgana Le Fey has conquered half the world, S.H.I.E.L.D. is replaced by Starkguard, and the Defenders are the big superhero team. Essentially, Wolverine broke the world.
He then realises that he has to fix this by going back in time again and stop himself from killing Pym.
Confused? And so you might be. Without spoiling what happens any more, all the time-travelling shenanigans have been a step too far and the space-time continuum breaks. We see a vision of parallel universes and past events colliding and shatterings of reality, and then, normality.
Except we have the arrival of Angela, an alien character created by Neil Gaiman for Image Comics. She's a kind of space-faring bounty hunter who appeared in Spawn. Now that Gaiman is working for Marvel, he must have insisted that he bring Angela with him and this is how they've written her into the Marvel Comic Universe. She will apparently appear in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Thankfully, I don't read GOTG.
This story had some neat ideas such as the alternative reality with Morgana Le Fey ruling the world fighting against Colonel America's Defenders, but that was short lived. I would have preferred to have seen more of Ultron's invasion, and the deaths of heroes and super villains and the world's armed forces mustering, and millions of civilians getting caught up in it, but that was never shown.
I've seen mixed reviews on this all over the web and I'm glad to say that I don't share all the negative views that I've seen. I have changed my own opinion after a few re-reads, and my final opinion is that it is ok. But that is all. The artwork by Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco is very pleasing to my eye which bumps this review up from 2 to 3 stars, but overall, I'm afraid I can only take 1 time travelling paradoxical solution every 30 years or so.