Avengers: Ultron Forever #1

Back in the day, Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco's "Avengers Forever" miniseries was an instant hit as a group of Avengers plucked from different points in time came together for a very different mission of sorts. That's clearly meant to be evoked once more in "Avengers: Ultron Forever" #1, as Al Ewing, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Rachelle Rosenberg assemble a new group of time-displaced Avengers. This go-round, the team is facing their foe Ultron in the future, where the robotic being threatens to envelop the entire universe.

Ewing's story is solid even as it's a lot of setup. He has to get readers up to speed on not only the dreaded Ultron Singularity but also just how far it's spread. At the same time, introducing past, present and future Avengers is once more on the table. Most notable here is the arrival of a future Captain America in the form of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones's daughter Danielle Cage. She's the immediate breakout star of this book; her opening four-page sequence in the undefined future just exudes charisma. Ewing and Davis go all out on the character; that stunning grin as she leaps at the Golden Skull's thugs while shouting what could very well be a catchphrase is instantly memorable, and there's just a high energy quotient on every single page. Jumping on posts, hurling the shield, leaping through the air -- this Captain America never stops moving even as she wallops the bad guys.

Still, with the huge amount of exposition in the middle of the issue, the book slows down considerably after that opening. The end of the book has a stunning cliffhanger -- both in Ewing's concept as well as how neat it looks courtesy of Davis and Farmer -- and that high note helps buoy things up somewhat. With some false suspense (the early revelation that their gatherer is not whom he seems feels very artificial), this plot ultimately chugs along well enough and moves everyone into bad situations for future issues to resolve.

The art in this book sure looks great from start to finish. The title "Avengers: Ultron Forever" is no doubt meant to also appeal to fans of "The Avengers" film that are interested in the upcoming, Ultron-centric sequel, and having Davis and Farmer draw the book is a smart move. Davis and Farmer give the book a clean and strong feel; Ewing's script flows that much better with gorgeous action sequences and great reaction shots. Danielle Cage's grin is infectious, for example, and the fact that we can have a close-up on just Black Widow's eyes when the Hulk is attacked and still get a strong reaction says a lot about how well Davis and Farmer pull them off. Speaking of the Hulk, it's also appreciated that Davis and Farmer model his appearance on those earliest comics with the character; it would be easy to give him a more contemporary look, but they stick to how that particular version of the Hulk should appear. The slightly bestial form of the character stands out even in crowd scenes, with all of their varied forms and colors side-by-side.

"Avengers: Ultron Forever" #1 is a solid start to this particular storyline. The story is a good opening chapter, and the art and coloring looks extremely attractive. My only real complaint is that, even with the battles at the end of the comic, Ultron coasts more on reputation than actually evoking any fear. We're told how dangerous the Ultron Singularity is but, for whatever reason, he's not coming across as truly deadly. Hopefully, that will be a bit more in the foreground as the Avengers get closer to the killer robot itself. Based on what we get here, though, I think most readers would want to see the next installment. Mission accomplished.

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