The only Age of Ultron tie-in comic that I’ve put any stock in (I guess besides Avengers #12.1) is Guardians of the Galaxy #5. While the consequences of time ‘breaking’ were felt in other comics, this was the only one written by Brian Michael Bendis that shows the ‘timequake’ scene from Age of Ultron #10 (er, unless the Ultimate Spider-Man panel from those two pages was reproduced elsewhere…). It’s the closest thing we get to an explanation about what happens, courtesy of everyone’s favourite Mad Titan… (Or, clone thereof!)
Guardians of the Galaxy is actually a follow-up to Age of Ultron #10, not an issue that actually overlaps. By this point, Peter Quill has gone in search of Mantis to help explain the ‘timequake’ effect that he experienced in Age of Ultron #10. That part of the comic is worth is more Sara Pichelli’s expanded version of the Quill ‘timequake’ panel that adds extra background detail, like foreshadowing “The Trial of Jean Grey,” which began last week in All-New X-Men and continues in tomorrow’s issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. Mantis isn’t much help in explaining what happened, so Quill seeks out someone who can explain it: Thanos. He comes closest to explaining what happened and its scale. He explains that it was an aftershock of the damage caused by Logan and Susan Richard’s time travelling ‘breaking’ time, creating tears and that Quill was lucky to have survived, because “[s]ome disappeared and will never be seen or heard from again.”
That part in particular stands out for me, because we’ve seen a form of this in Galactus dropped in the Ultimate Universe (or even Angela dropped into the Marvel Universe, which is shown in more detail in the same Guardians of the Galaxy issue), but it also raises a lot of possibilities. Since the tears involve time, if a being were to fall into it, would it be like they never existed? Do people remember Galactus? Will this be an excuse for a Sentry- or Triumph-esque character to ‘return’ at some point to a world that has forgotten them? And, if characters could disappear, could others appear? Angela does, but could this be used to bring characters back ala Hawkeye’s resurrection at the end of House of M?
Unfortunately, Thanos’s explanation is vague and not a real explanation. If there’s a weakness of time ‘breaking’ at the end of Age of Ultron #10, it’s that it is such a vague concept, one whose consequences and parameters are never truly defined. Given the time travel stuff that Bendis is dealing with in the X-titles, that seems very purposeful and something that will most likely pay off at some point in the future. But, it also leaves the end of Age of Ultron in a weird place where something big has happened with no explanation, no sense of what it means, and, in the follow-up that offers an explanation, there still isn’t an explanation really. All there is is a freaked out Peter Quill looking to Thanos for answers and finding the destruction of Earth.
Like Avengers Assemble, part of Age Ultron seems set at acting like a bridge between Bendis’s Avengers work and Guardians of the Galaxy (aka Space Avengers!). It is both finale and prelude in one. Strange that the bridge would be something so conceptually obtuse.