“Age of Ultron” #7 from Brian Michael Bendis, Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco is the sort of high concept insanity expected from a Bendis event at Marvel. There are double page splashes featuring Marvel locales with neat twists of awe and a smattering of smaller Marvel players suddenly thrust into important roles. The toys are all out, dusted off and played with in full force, as the creative team explores the ramifications of Wolverine and Invisible Woman going back in time to undo the Age of Ultron, with strange side effects.
This issue opens with Wolverine and Sue Richards in the past, having just slain an Avenger in order to stop the terrible misdeeds of Ultron from ever occurring. Considering the gravity of their actions, neither seems truly that perturbed. The aftermath is minimal, which helps the story move along and avoid more than a double splash of navel gazing, but it does cheapen the weight of what this plot point should yield for the characters — not just their surrounding story. This pretty much exemplifies the bombastic nature of this event book, which likely won’t be under the grueling scrutiny of character like other tales are.
Once the time-travelling assassins return, Bendis makes it clear he’s playing with all the toys. He lines up a roster of future-warped Defenders that look bad ass — the sort of team that won’t headline a real comic anytime soon, but will certainly have fans wishing to see more. This alternate team of patch wearing, scarred heroes with swapped identities and retro suits have a certain cool factor, but that’s easier to do when it doesn’t need to be permanent or justified within ongoing continuity. Readers have seen it before in “Age of Apocalypse” and even more recently in Bendis’ own “House of M.” The similarities might make readers wonder why this needs to be attempted again, making it seem as if there aren’t any other high stakes superhero stories to tell, except for altering the timeline to create/navigate a threat.
Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco work well together across this issue to bring it all home in a cohesive manner. Neither of them bring a really emotive and iconic Invisible Woman to the page — though she doesn’t look as generic as a Stepford Cuckoo, so it’s not all bad. The sprawling vistas of dinosaurs and Helicarriers from Peterson have enough oomph to carry an event book and feel larger than life. Peterson’s superhero throwdown before the inevitable team up is peppered with great action and story beats. Peterson’s future is saddled with a lot more ink than Pacheco’s slightly cleaner past, which makes the time shift work well aesthetically.
“Age of Ultron” #7 is a fun dumb issue, which is a statement to be embraced on some levels. It’s not interested in characters mourning or the plot mechanics of time travel in intricate detail. Instead, characters that readers know and love are made cooler in quick turns. The heroes that fans love fight against one another for readers’ amusement. This story might be a touch silly, but there’s enough here for it to be enjoyable. The stone face of cynicism will say we’ve seen it all before, but those after fun can admit we see it again because it’s good stuff. This issue isn’t perfect but it’s perfectly enjoyable, then easily forgettable.