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4.2 out of 5 stars56
4.2 out of 5 stars
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The story running through the ten-issue Age of Ultron mini-series is collected, along with issue #10 AI, as Age of Ultron. Unlike many of these Big Event stories, this one is told on a human scale; there are no huge battles involving every character in the Marvel universe - as they are mostly dead already; there are no enormous cosmic events or interventions or catastrophes - as it has already happened; there are just small groups of characters scuttling about in the ruins, eventually getting together to run away, and ending with a last-ditch two-person mission to fix everything through having a reasonable conversation with the man who made it all happen in the hope of getting him to change his mind. Which he does. However, getting to that point does take a little effort. And we do see a big battle or two, but not in our timeline; and we do get flashbacks to Ultron's attack - though Spider-Man slept through it; and it really does come down to a two-person team going back in time to have a conversation, but they have to do it twice, as the first time they weren't going back to talk, and they (and we) discover just what a world without Hank Pym or the Vision would look like. And they discover that they are not allowed to change the past if they want their world back, but they can change their present - so we get to keep everything that happened before the final Ultron attack - though with a little tweaking here and there...

This really is a human-scale story, though with spectacular artwork showing the results of the Ultron event, and flashbacks to some of its beginnings, and it follows a small number of characters as they slowly Assemble - in spectacular landscapes and cityscapes - and eventually Avenge what has happened. We get to see at least one alternative timeline, where magic is a major force, and not science and technology so much. And we finally get a story where a friendly chat and not a ginormous free-for-all fixes the problem. Though we do get a ginormous free for all with Ultron as well, but that is part of the plan.

However, all this time travelling and fiddling with time-lines does have a cosmic-level impact, and a future storyline (or two) is unveiled at the very end.

Issue 10 AI is the secret origin of Hank Pym, including a look at his life before he became Ant-Man; and a last page where he is up to something with another idea involving an AI...
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on 10 June 2014
I have been reading lots of comics over the past year, primarily The Walking Dead, and have found myself thoroughly enjoying this platform of storytelling and love the exquisite artwork. However, up until this book, I had actually not read any Marvel comic books and felt I could not call myself a true Marvel fan by solely judging their awesomeness based on their films, TV shows and second-hand knowledge from the Internet. So I thought I should actually buy myself a comic book and see if I would enjoy them as much, if not more so, as the films and TV shows.

Although, I didn't really know where to start. True Marvel fans would most certainly be better in offering a good title to welcome new readers to the comic universe but with "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" film being released next year, I thought I'd start by reading the comic that inspired the title of the next Avengers film, even if it isn't going to be based on the actual comic book.

The story is neither the most original nor is it the most interesting, although the characters and the artists' excellent designs make the moderately weak story easily forgivable. In fact, the last issue in the book that delves into Henry "Hank" Pym's origin - who is otherwise known as Ant-Man - has in fact catapulted him into my personal Top 20 Superheroes of All Time. Then again that could just be me as I find I am able to empathize with him significantly.

Overall, as the comic book that has welcomed me into the comic universe of Marvel, I think this book is brilliant and is definitely worth the read. Plus, I have already ordered another Marvel comic book and cannot wait to read it, so I would say this comic book did a superb job in persuading me that Marvel comic books can be enjoyed just as much as the films etc.
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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.
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on 11 February 2015

Great idea & great art, but...

As ever Bendis can come up with a big idea, but it is often poorly executed.

In this story, I would have liked to have seen just how Ultron conquered the world.
How he built a massive city over New York - apparently overnight.
How he built all his drones.

And Wolverine's solution seems really heavy-handed - almost to the point of cliché – i.e. Hank Pym "won't listen" so he has to be killed.
Surely he's a boffin, not a religious zealot!

And why is Ultron buying superheroes?
And directing everything via the Vision from the future ….
Does this get explained - or did I just miss it?

And Ultron get invented anyway, in spite of intervention?
And why must he be allowed to exist after all that?
Timey-wimey stuff I suppose.

That said, the adventure as a whole is satisfying.
The alternates are pretty good.

And for once the climax makes some sense - unlike Bendis' often hopelessly vague and confusing climaxes (such as Secret Invasion and Avengers Disassembled)

I realise that comics have moved on since I was a lad, but Bendis’ non-linear, non-explanatory style gets a bit wearing and a tad pretentious.
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on 2 December 2014
Spoilers ect.

The art is pretty, the story went in a poor direction however. It's titled Age of Ultron but I'm pretty sure we don't see Ultron till the very end and that's the Ultron from before the story happened any way. The story starts as if it's going to be about either Spiderman or Hawkeye and half way in dumps them for Wolverine and Sue Storm. Another badly executed Marvel plot that could have been incredible.
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on 19 October 2013
I'm not a regular reader of The Avengers; I simply picked up this collected edition because I was intrigued and had a bit of spare cash in my wallet. All-in-all, it was a disappointment. I'm usually quite positive towards Brian Michael Bendis - sure, he takes a long time to get his stories moving, but he writes good dialogue and his Daredevil run was pretty excellent. In this case, however, the plotting was just a bunch of derivative cliches involving apocalyptic alternate timelines (always a good way to kill major characters without it affecting regular continuity) and time-travel. The "alternate timelines" thing has been repeated to the point of being boring and, indeed, even within this book there are sevel levels of timeline-changing action which just gets silly.

In many ways, it's a shame to have a major event book featuring a load of great Marvel characters (Wolverine, Power Man, Moon Knight etc) and then have them underused and playing second fiddle to disposable "alternate" versions of themselves. Perhaps the strangest thing is that Ultron barely appears in the story, spending most of the book in a different timeline from the main cast.

The artwork is generally good but also a little variable. Bryan Hitch is a superb draftsman, but his tendency to sometimes spill across two pages and sometimes stick to one often leaves you unsure whether you should be reading horizontally onto the next page or down one page then across to the other. This makes it tricky to follow the dialogue sometimes. In the latter half of the collection, the artwork becomes more variable, although never bad. The only artists I could pick out by their drawing style were Carlos Pacheco (I don't like his current style as much as his earlier work), Brandon Peterson (dynamic but a little rough around the edges) and Jackson Guice (great as always, but only does a few pages).

On the whole, I would struggle to recommend paying full price for this collection. The execution is OK, but the story itself is fundmentally not very good and wastes a lot of much loved Marvel superheroes.
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on 17 November 2014
I read a library copy of the paperback.
I am really not a Brian Bendis fan, I haven’t liked the way he’s morphed ‘my’ Avengers into the legion of bickering nobodies he has over recent years but even I can’t deny adopting his strategy has worked wonders for the entire Marvel line.
I avoided this crossover for many reasons and for a very long time until I found it free in my library.
So I gave it a go and perhaps it’s because I haven’t forked out any of my own money- or because I kindof knew what happened throughout it’s storyline - but I was not as annoyed at Bendis for this collection as I thought I would be.
The art is pretty good and the world-building of the early set-up quite intriguing but the action is sparse and the surviving players are all written in Bendis’s usual wisecracking world-weary, interchangeable manner.
Surely it’s not a spoiler to discuss that the plot here involves time-travel and Hank Pym.
The eventual main players charged with explaining the situation to him are Wolverine and Sue Storm neither of whom would seem to me to be particularly influential to him in his timestream – why not a contemporary Avenger of his day, or, I don’t know, the Wasp or the Vision or someone like that?
Anyway, there is potential for lasting importance in the last few pages but the whole series smacks of an ‘alternate-universe’ episode of any formulaic television series since the 70.
I understand that this may be the opening cracks appearing in what will eventually splinter the Marvel Universe completely but as much heralded as it was – this does not appear to be vital reading at all.
Don’t spend big money on this book but if you see it around for a low price it actually is worthy of a look.
Praise indeed.
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VINE VOICEon 8 September 2013
Ah what a disaster! So due to editorial shuffles this was shunted aside for a year in order to accommodate the whole A v X storyline. And yet again Brian Michael Bendis gives us a complete turkey when it really matters. The guy can build a story line no problem but come the time to deliver, it falls flat on it's face. And Age of Ultron is no exception.

One thing the kills the story dead is that continuity pretty much ignores this tale. The story is billed as a moment the Marvel universe changes, nothing will ever be the same again. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heard it all before. So the story begins and New York has been destroyed, most of the heroes are dead and Ultron rules the world. The remaining heroes (the usual crowd including Wolverine, Cap America, Spiderman etc) are hiding away in the ruins like rats pondering how to turn the tide. Nick Fury has a hail mary plan which may or may not turn the tide. And to be honest that is half the story already. Bryan Hitch delivers the quality art you would expect however it does seem a tad rushed. His rendition of a major city reduced to rubble is impressive but very little happens. And if things couldn't get any worse......

The second half of the story begins with our remaining heroes travelling through the time stream. Unfortunately this part of the story puts the focus upon Wolverine (it always has to be bloody wolverine) and the Invisible Woman. They get stranded in the usual alternative time-line thus the reader has little connection to the majority of characters. The artistic choirs change to Carlos Pachaeo and Brandon Peterson. A complete change of style and tone to the work of Hitch and it certainly isn't for the better. The work by Peterson is especially wooden. So Wolverine saves the day in a roundabout fashion but the conclusion is poorly handled and very underwhelming. So to sum this up, in the first half of the story most of the characters we know and love are dead. During the second half you have little or no reason to care about the alt reality characters. Bendis has made a bad habit of failing to deliver at the big moment and this is certainly no exception. One of the worst Marvel events in quite some time.
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on 11 December 2013
A time travel story that goes into a loop and then breaks it’s own story logic and the setting.
The only reason it not a one star is the art.
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on 21 December 2013
I bought this as a christmas present for my Partners son. It seems everything a Comic book should be I think he will be happy with it
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