Comic Reviews: Age Of Ultron and Before Watchmen: Rorschach!
The next Marvel event starts now, and once again, it promises to change things…..FOREVER!!!!
Well, at least until the next big event.
But seriously, Age Of Ultron is the latest universe spanning event from Marvel, and it’s been a long time coming, teased some two years ago in Avengers #12.1. Focusing on the titular humanity hating robot, the first issue of Age Of Ultron, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art from Bryan Hitch, wastes no time in setting up the world our heroes are in. In fact, it doesn’t set anything up at all.
Starting mid action with Hawkeye attempting to save Spider-Man from the clutches of The Owl and Hammerhead, the book presents us with a Marvel universe that is a little bit “Age Of Apocalypse” mixed with Escape From New York. The heroes are beaten, broken, and shattered, and Ultron is the supreme power in the world. Hawkeye and Spider-Man, both heroes known for their snarky attitudes (especially when Brian Michael Bendis is writing them) are uncharacteristically grim here, but instead of seeming out of character, it instead shows how much this world has changed them. Hawkeye’s condemnation of his fellow Avengers when he returns to their base tells us more about how their world has changed than any other type of exposition could, and it barely scratches the surface of what happened to them. By not telling us much about how the Marvel Universe has gotten into the shape it’s in, Bendis creates an intriguing mystery for future issues.
A lot of credit should go to Bendis, as he sets up an interesting world for this storyline. Having two scumbags like Owl and Hammerhead interact with one another shows us how horrible the world is with Ultron in power, as the two talk about how they’re able to use different Avengers as bartering chips for survival. There’s a lot at stake here, and Bendis drives that home in spades. There’s a few moments that are a little confusing revolving around Spider-Man though. Bendis writes him here as if it’s the regular Peter Parker being rescued by Hawkeye, and not the smug Otto Octavius in Peter’s skin. While this may be explained later on (Spidey was just being rescued from torture), it does throw you off a little bit, and makes you wonder if Bendis made any changes to the script at all in the time that he came up with the story and now.
When it comes to the art, Bryan Hitch’s cinematic panels evoke some of his grandest work. Just like in The Ultimates, there are huge, wide-angle panels to showcase the decrepit Marvel Universe, and glorious action scenes. I haven’t been too keen on Hitch’s recent work, but he’s back in top form for this debut issue. Everything from the exhausted and beaten looks on our heroes to the glorious explosions from the Ultron sentries patrolling the skies is stellar, and truly give the book the epic feel that it needs.
While it’s yet another event, Age Of Ultron is off to a great start, and with each part of the ten-issue story coming out (nearly) weekly, this is an event that will be over before we know it. Plus, it comes with a shiny chrome cover that will instantly transport you back to 1993, all for a measly $4. As long as Bendis and his art crew can keep the momentum going, we may have the Avengers equivalent of “Age Of Apocalypse” when this is all said and done.
Man, it really sucks when good books get delayed. Like Uncanny Avengers, DC’s Before Watchmen: Rorschach finale has been delayed for months now (probably even longer than the last issue of UA). Unfortunately, where the delay didn’t effect Marvel’s book, it really did for Walter Kovac’s story. With no recap page, it was pretty hard to remember where Rorschach was when we last left him, and even what the main plot of the miniseries was (I read a lot of comics, so recap pages help).
Wrapping up Rorschach’s encounter with the crazy disco gang leader Rawhead, BW: Rorschach is an interesting and unconventional finale. Those expecting Rorschach to have a knock down drag out confrontation with Rawhead won’t like what they get, as Rorschach gets the crap kicked out him, and gets out of his hostage state thanks to a certain pet of Rawhead’s. He doesn’t even solve the mystery of “The Bard”, the serial killer stalking the streets of New York City until the final few pages of the issue, in an awkward “oh crap we gotta wrap this up” sort of way. However, he does get to see the “true face” of New York City, as the entire population seemingly loses their minds during a city wide blackout, and through this Rorschach’s outlook on fighting crime becomes even more extreme.
Despite my initial disappointment with this issue, I’m starting to come around with what happens, mainly because Brian Azzarello has Rorschach admit that this mission was his “last mistake”, showing him how truly ugly people can be. At the beginning of this series, Walter Kovacs wasn’t as hardcore of a vigilante as the one he is in Alan Moore’s tale, and the story Azzarello chose to tell here is an interesting one. Couple that with the gorgeous art of Lee Bermejo, and you have an interesting character study of arguably the most popular character in the Watchmen universe. For those who were waiting until all of the issues were released (or for the trade) you won’t be disappointed as this will be a phenomenal read when you don’t have to wait for the single issues, but man, the wait really killed the momentum this book had when it launched.