“Age of Ultron” by Brian Bendis and Brandon Peterson sees Wolverine and Sue Richards dealing with the fallout of their decision to kill Hank Pym in the past, as they attempt to convince the heroes in the alternate future that the world is likely better off.
The problem with this issue (and maybe even the whole event) is actually very simple: the characters have erased one no-stakes reality only to replace it with another, and amongst it all there’s absolutely no indication of what readers should care about. It’s been clear from day one that “Age of Ultron” is likely heading for a reset-switch ending. Characters going through the motions of attempting to “fix” reality is unengaging when it happens so far in advance of the series’ actual conclusion. Alternate-universe events have come and gone (“Age of Apocalypse,” “House of M,” “Age of X”) and all of those at least had the “real” Marvel Universe at stake. As an event that began in a future that hasn’t happened, “Age of Ultron” began from a position of untenability and nothing since then has given it the same impact.
Undoubtedly, there are elements of the current alternate-alternate reality that are good fun in their own right, but only on the level of any other alternate-universe story. The idea of a world without Hank Pym has been well-thought out, but there’s still nothing here that would’ve been out of place in any random issue of “Exiles.” If you’ve never read an alternate reality story before, it has the capacity to impress, but that’s unlikely to describe the majority of the book’s readership.
At least Peterson’s artwork is dramatic enough to sell the plot elements, and the artist retains much of Hitch and Pacheco’s style thanks to the inks of Paul Mounts. Peterson does better with the more widescreen material (Le Fey’s Doombot attack sequence, for example) and that goes some way to selling this as an event, but when the scale gets smaller, the character language is weaker, which creates a disparity with Bendis’ writing.
As events go, “Age of Ultron” feels like more of a misfire than anything in recent memory. Some of the tie-ins have been good, but the core series has had pacing trouble and utterly failed to sell its premise right from the start. Considering what the series is named, the plot has veered so far off course that you might reasonably wonder why the series is called “Age of Ultron” at all. Admittedly, there’s still time for the concluding issues to pay off this plot with a dramatic and impactful twist, but as stories go, it just hasn’t got a hook.