If time travel makes you queasy, steer clear of “Age of Ultron” #9 by Brian Michael Bendis with art from Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco. As expected, Wolverine pulls himself from the wreckage caused by Morgana Le Fey’s attack and decides there’s only one thing to do: go back in time and stop himself from killing Hank Pym. The killing that transpired in “Age of Ultron” #6 and a pair of pages from that issue are duplicated (with slight modifications) in this issue. Confused? If so, then sit down, because that doesn’t even scratch what really goes on in “Age of Ultron” #9.
Brian Michael Bendis manages to keep it all straight, though. The first eight pages pick up from the last issue, but from there the past slides back into the spotlight. That past is personified in Pym, dressed in his Goliath garb, on the eve of creating Ultron. It’s the same uniform he was wearing in “Age of Ultron” #6, but he’s given slightly more time in this issue, including the opportunity to marvel over the two Wolverines jawing about the best course of action to take. Bendis keeps the cast small in this issue, giving Sue Storm and Age of Le Fey-era Tony Stark the only other lines in the comic book — except for the appearance of the big bad. That helps this issue to move along, providing the reader with some satisfaction in a story that hovers around the reset button.
Brandon Peterson draws the dark, oppressive “present” that is filled with Paul Mounts’ glows, sparks and energy bursts to add some illumination. Filled with detailed destruction and desolate detritus, Peterson’s “present” pages are worthy of deeper study and analysis and make Carlos Pacheco’s work seem quite lively and buoyant by comparison. As he did in “Age of Ultron” #6, letterer Cory Petit tints Hank Pym’s word balloons ever-so-slightly, giving them a musty appearance as yet another sign of a time gone by. Pacheco’s work is clean and sharp, detailed in its own right, but more animated reality than reality-based animation. His Wolverine from the other present is shorter and blockier than what Pacheco has previously given us, so he switches up the Age of Ultron Wolvie to match. It’s not that big a difference, but it is noticeable. The other Wolverine dons his first uniform, which gives Jose Villarrubia ample opportunity to use his yellows and lighter blue tones, between Wolverine and Goliath. The final fourteen pages are done by Pacheco, inker Roger Bonet and Villarrubia, with Petit lettering all the way through. Pacheco has a fabulous handle on historical Avengers adventures; making “Age of Ultron” #9 feel like an offshoot from “Avengers Forever.”
As penultimate issues go, “Age of Ultron” #9 is not a very tense issue. The Wolverines, Sue Storm and Pym noodle over how to make things right and it seems like their solution might be on target, especially given the narrow margin for error or expansive story weaving. That said, this issue doesn’t seem to have much going on, save for multiple Wolverines, which makes for some fun moments, mind-bending time travel scenarios and wonderful artistic opportunities for Pacheco and Peterson. It’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen, I’m just wondering how close to the obvious it will really play out.