Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spotlight: Age of Ultron #6

(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco

At ten issues, Age of Ultron has a lot of wiggle room. Brian Michael Bendis' decompressed style shines through here, as each chapter moves the story forward, but at a deliberately steady pace (unlike, say, the 'jump in head first' attitude of events such as Siege and Fear Itself). Which is interesting, because Ultron had already won before the first issue began. It's a testament to Bendis' talent, that he's able to tell a story backwards and still make it feel familiar and organic. Age of Ultron #6 marks the beginning of the second half of this event, and this is where everything changes.


Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson begin their art duties this issue, and for once, it actually makes sense. I had a theory -- a few months back when it was announced that the artistic team would change midway through the series -- that the change would have to do with time travel and/or dimensional travel. Lo and behold, that's exactly the reason. It's not a fill-in job or because Bryan Hitch couldn't produce more pages. It's because that's what the story calls for, and that's the best reason.

Last issue, Nick Fury led a team into the future on a mission to destroy Ultron and retroactively fix the past. Wolverine is skeptical, to say the least, and decides to go rogue and jump back in time to kill Hank Pym, thereby eliminating Ultron before it's even created. Because nothing bad has ever come from messing with the past. Wolverine does posit, on several occasions, that without Ultron, the future has "got to be better than what we left."

That's a silly sentiment.

And Logan, of all people, should understand this basic principle. Is he not the one going ape-shit in All-New X-Men over Beast bringing the original X-Men into the present? I could look past this if Brian Michael Bendis wasn't writing both titles. ANYTHING that changes in the past can (and usually does) have major ramifications to the future. It's not a difficult concept to understand, and Wolverine is letting his emotions get the better of him. Again, I could look past this if it hadn't happened to the X-Men numerous times throughout the franchise's publication history, but it has.

Honestly, Ultron's devastation merits extreme action. I understand that Bendis has written these characters into a situation that they've never encountered before, one that they do not have a solution for, one that can't be fixed by punching and shields. This ordeal has broken these heroes, and they don't know what else to do. The problem is that Bendis' insistence that story trumps character backfires on him here. Wolverine has never been about "what if"s and "could have"s. In any other story, he would have joined Nick Fury in the fight for the future. It's hard to get past this unconvincing character flaw because Wolverine's journey into the past is pivotal to this issue's narrative.

It's going to be hard for Bendis to dig his way out of this one -- even if Wolverine recognizes his mistake, the fact still remains that he did it. In the years he's been featured in Marvel comic books, Wolverine has never crossed the line unless he needed to, unless there was no other option. It's a shame that such a popular and revered character is being used so flippantly.


1 comment:

  1. Spoilers below

    In the Wolverine tie-in, it's heavily implied that Wolverine and Sue Storm have a change of heart about killing Pym. We see Wolverine understand that messing with the past can mess things up for the future, and Sue comes to terms with having to do whatever it takes to no longer be alone. This even fits into AoU #6 when, in the last few panels, we see that Sue has control over Wolverine's claws. It's implied that Wolverine wasn't the one that pulled the trigger, rather Sue was the one that forced his hand.