I had a small theory to float about Age of Ultron #10 and the moment where time is ‘broken,’ but I don’t think it’s going to play out exactly. I think I’ll float it anyway.
I wasn’t entirely sure where I would go with it beyond a “Hey, look at what I noticed!” bit, but I was going to argue that the moment where time is broken (or the ‘timequake’ happens before it’s actually ‘broken’) actually taps into the fundamental core of the universe as filtered through the Infinity Gems. Let’s go to the pages...
Six panels, six Gems. As well, the background colours are different, for the most part, in each panel. My thinking was that each panel would represent a Gem. From characters/situations alone, it was easy to pair up Star-Lord and the space background characters with the Space Gem; Ultimate Spider-Man and the alternate reality characters with the Reality Gem; and Blackbeard Thing and other time travellers with the Time Gem. That left the Power Gem, the Mind Gem, and the Soul Gem with no obvious contenders. After all, Tony Stark and Hank Pym could both qualify for the Mind Gem, while all three have ‘power’ of some sort, and the Soul Gem doesn’t easily get placement. Now, my initial feelings are to give Wolverine the Soul Gem because of his long life and periods of life (like a soul moving from body to body), Tony Stark the Power Gem, because of his ever-increasing power thanks to technology, and Hank Pym the Mind Gem both for his intellect and for his history of mental problems.
The problem comes in with using colours to match each panel with a Gem. According to the Infinity Gems Wikipedia entry, Soul is green, Time is orange, Space is purple, Mind is blue, Reality is yellow, and Power is red. Looking at those panels, Wolverine is red, Tony Stark is purple, Star-Lord is blue, Hank Pym is bluey-green, Ultimate Spider-Man is green, and Blackbeard Thing is orange. That would make Wolverine Power, Tony Stark Space, Star-Lord Mind, Hank Pym... er, Mind/Soul, Ultimate Spider-Man Soul, and Blackbeard Thing Time. That’s one for six with no Reality Gem accounted for.
The Infinity Gems theory seemed solid, because there had to be a reason why these six panels occur. Within the context of the series, Wolverine and Hank Pym make a certain amount of sense because of their roles, while Ultimate Spider-Man does show up later in one of the teasers. However, where does Blackbeard Thing fit into things? Or Star-Lord beyond him being in another Bendis comic and this scene being referenced there? Add in the background scenes of each panel and the Gems theory makes more sense. In some panels, we see versions of the same character, while others show other characters of similar types. There seem to be specific themes at play in each panel.
Each panel representing a Gem suggested that this was simply time being ‘broken,’ it was the entire universe. Mess with one of those six components and the whole thing becomes fractured in its own way. It also leads into Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers where all but one of the Gems are destroyed in an effort to save Earth. They were already damaged by what happened here!
But, it was all ruined by colouring. Let no one tell you that it doesn’t matter.