Comic Reviews: Age of Ultron and Batman & Robin
Marvel’s latest event reaches the grand finale, and unfortunately, it didn’t come soon enough. There are some cool ideas peppered throughout Age of Ultron #10, but not enough to have justified sticking through the entire 10-issue event.
Much of the issue flashes back to the point one issue of Avengers that started the “Age of Ultron” hype. However, that issue was almost three years ago, which, in comic book terms, was two events ago! Without an editorial reminder, it’s very confusing to figure out when the events were taking place, leaving the reader with a strange sense of déjà vu. Despite this, At least Ultron actually shows up in this issue and battles the Avengers, which is probably the only highlight of the issue, even if it’s not the epic confrontation we were hoping for.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m very disappointed in this issue, and Age of Ultron as a whole. What started off as a very promising apocalyptic event quickly spiraled into a weird subplot involving Invisible Woman and Wolverine travelling back in time, then to some weird alternate reality for two issues, then pulling a Back to the Future Part II and undoing what they changed, which lead us back here, in the regular Marvel universe. Usually I’m a fan of Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, but with this event something went wrong. I’m not sure if he wasn’t into the material or if he simply wasn’t being edited, but I know it didn’t feel like the way an event book should. Even the much-touted appearance at issue’s end of Angela comes completely out of left field, although that sequence is the best thing Joe Quesada has drawn in quite some time.
Speaking of the art, it’s probably the one part of this book that isn’t a complete wash. The art is solid throughout, which is a remarkable event since there are TEN artists credited. That may it sound like the book is a jarring read, but I was surprised that the different artists didn’t detract from my being able to follow the story. While I may not have enjoyed much of what happened in this book, there are some cool things teased from the fallout of this issue, even though the fact that they are little more than glorified ads for upcoming series does send me a little off the deep end.
Chances are if you stuck around with Age of Ultron this far, you’ll probably be disappointed, but if you’re not, more power to you. This event, in my eyes, went off the rails, and by the time anyone noticed it was too late. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fear Itself, but I think it’s miles ahead of AoU. For the first time in a long time a Marvel event has made me feel, well, nothing really.
Oh well. Bring on Infinity!
I know I mentioned this the last time I reviewed an issue of Batman & Robin, but seriously: this book rules. It’s the only Bat-title on the shelf that’s actively dealing with the fallout of Damien’s death, and how Bruce Wayne is coming to terms with this tragedy. This issue raises the stakes even more, and pushes Bruce ever closer towards the breaking point, causing a concerned Barbara Gordon to try and step in before Batman goes too far.
Peter Tomasi is criminally underrated as a writer. Much like the amazing all-silent issue 19, Batman & Robin #21 shows a Batman that is merciless, cold, and calculating. He’s breaking bones, overflowing prisons, and going on radio silence from Alfred when he goes on patrol. There’s a fantastic moment where Batman arrives at a hostage situation at the mall that encapsulates his current mindset, and for the first time in my life, I actually felt bad for the criminals he was beating up. Tomasi’s handle on Barbara Gordon is fantastic as well, filling in the reader on her current status with Batman (and her father) in a way that’s easy for non-Batgirl readers to pick up. I don’t ever want Gail Simone to leave Batgirl, but if she does, Tomasi would be an excellent choice to fill in.
Unfortunately Patrick Gleason is taking this issue off. Fortunately for us, Cliff Richards’ artwork is similar enough to Gleason’s that you don’t notice Gleason’s absence too much. Richards does some fantastic work when he has Batman brutally take down thugs, and the confrontation between Batman and Batgirl at issue’s end is given the emotional punch it needs thanks to him.
Batman & Robin is right behind Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s title in terms of great Batman reads on the shelves today. For those interested, the post-Damien story arc started in issue 18, so it’s not too late to catch up. Peter Tomasi is writing an incredibly engaging story around a character defined by many past tragedies dealing with a brand new, even more personal one. I have no idea how long a post-Damien Wayne Batman & Robin can last, but I know I’ll be reading until it ends.