In the second half of Age of Ultron, the main characters are, ostensibly, Logan and Susan Richards as they travel back in time to somehow alter the future to prevent the “Age of Ultron” that has left the world in ruins. Logan sees killing Hank Pym as the only solution to his problem. No Hank Pym means no Ultron. Susan struggles against that idea, but, eventually acquiesces because of the staggering disparity between the life of Hank Pym and the large body count that Ultron amasses over his lifetime, including Susan’s family. Part of what makes killing Pym the only solution available that they can see if that Pym’s ego and ambition would prevent him from creating Ultron if told what the consequences were; he would simply try to make Ultron better (and most likely fail). It is only when they see the world without Hank Pym that results from their actions that Logan goes back and stops himself before he kills Pym and they come up with another solution.
The role of the two in Age of Ultron #10 is fairly light given how integral both were in the actual outcome of the issue. They appear on four pages (with an unseen action happening on a fifth) with the only active thing done being the delivery of past Hank Pym’s message to present Hank Pym. Otherwise, they return to the time from which they left, see that Ultron has not completely taken over Manhattan and, then, Logan experiences time ‘breaking.’ Despite their relative absence from the issue, the only two things of import that happen are the result of them: Ultron’s defeat and time ‘breaking.’ And both happen because of the exact same actions.
If anything, their two small appearances occur only to remind us that they did this. They helped defeat Ultron. They ‘broke’ time. Their appearances do little except act as that reminder. I’ve written previously about how I keep expecting them both to show up again, if only because there’s no story in them being wiped out by the ‘timequake’ and there is a story in them still being in the Marvel Universe. Their short appearances that act as a reminder of their roles in what we see in Age of Ultron #10 only strengthen that argument, I think.
There is an attempt at emotional closure in their return to the future and seeing that Manhattan is how it should be. Brandon Peterson draws those two pages and does a pretty good job. I can’t get over how absolutely wrecked Susan looks. She looks like she’s two seconds away from a full breakdown, emotionally wiped from her experiences, and overcome by the fact that her family isn’t dead anymore. Except, it’s not her family exactly, is it? There’s another Susan Richards there as part of that timeline. While Logan can easily slip off and live his own life away from the regular Wolverine we see and probably be okay with that, it’s hard to imagine Susan doing the same.
It’s hard not to look at those two pages, think about that, and extrapolate a similarity to Bendis’s depiction of the Scarlet Witch. The two situations are not identical, but there is the potential for similar paths. An emotionally drained woman with overwhelmingly powerful abilities who loses her family. That doesn’t mean that this Susan Richards will turn up as a villain; in fact, I’d really like it if she didn’t, because it would be almost clichéd and very, very, very lame. What she represents is an opportunity for Bendis to write a similar situation with a different outcome. So many readers took issue with his depiction of the Scarlet Witch that this Susan Richards could show a different side of a similar story. I’m not sure what exactly; I do look forward to it.
Over in All-New X-Men, Bendis has played around with the idea of the same person from different times coexisting in various ways and this would continue that idea from yet another perspective. The appearances of Logan and Susan in Age of Ultron, moreso than time ‘breaking,’ seem like the true teaser of a future story, similar to the New Avengers: Illuminati mini-series Bendis penned with Brian Reed. We just have to wait, I suppose.