REVIEW: Age of Ultron #1 (No Spoilers)

Age of Ultron_1Age of Ultron #1

Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary
Colors by Paul Mounts
Covers by Bryan Hitch, Mike Deodato, Marko Djurdjevic, Rock-He Kim, & Skottie Young

$3.99 / 40 pages / Color

Published by Marvel Comics

Age of Ultron is the latest event from Marvel Comics and it arrives at comic book stores this Wednesday with little-to-no fanfare. I mean, seriously, when was the last time that an event had this little build-up and buzz? Siege?

(And look how that turned out–Siege was one of the best events since the never-ending Marvel Comics event cycle that began with Civil War.)

Despite the lack of excitement that I’ve felt for this event, Age of Ultron has two things going for it: one, it’s got the kind of premise that I always dig and two, it’s got Ultron. Let’s take the second one first.

Ultron is an Avengers villain that I’ve always loved. He ties into a lot of fears: the fear of your own creation turning against you, the fear of a cold and unfeeling enemy that cannot be reasoned with, and the fear of killer robots. Ultron’s stock rose high when he appeared as the villain in the best story arc of Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s fantastic run on The Avengers. I’ve been a big fan ever since.

Age of Ultron writer Brian Michael Bendis has been teasing this story ever since we saw Tony Stark’s crazy cave painting timeline way back in The Avengers #5:

The Avengers_5_Timeline

The Avengers #5 (2010)

And the premise is one of my favorite kind of stories. The first issue opens on a dystopian scene labeled “Today.” It would seem that Ultron has taken over the world and people are living in squalor under his heavy metal thumb. Bad guys roam free, our heroes are on the run, and all hope seems lost. I love this stuff! I love getting dropped into the middle of a story and having to suss out the whats, whys, and wherefores. And I love stories set in the future (even if this isn’t technically “the future”) where our once-great heroes have been beaten and now have to find a way, against all odds, to be triumphant once again.

But how did we get here? Clearly this is not any “Today” that we recognize and therein lies the story. This first issue is mostly set-up in which we are dropped into this world, we get a sense of the power dynamics, and we meet many of the main players. What we don’t know is how we got here and where we go moving forward. That will come. For now we just know that the heroes have had their spirits broken, some more so than others, and they’ve got to fight back or it’s curtains for the lot of them. Writer Brian Michael Bendis moves the story along at a brisk pace and the more toned down, less quippy dialogue style that has been prevalent in his X-Men work as of late is found here as well. What Bendis has set up here is a tightly-focused action piece to open the story which is capped off by a deeply felt emotional cliff-hanger.

Age of Ultron_1_Interior

Age of Ultron #1 interior art by Bryan Hitch

If there’s one let down here it’s the art, and it pains me to say it because ten years ago I would have listed Bryan Hitch as one of my favorite artists. But in Age of Ultron #1 when he’s not being woefully misused his style seems out of place and from a by-gone era. Sure, there are a bunch of “widescreen” double-page spreads for which Hitch is most well known, but they are mainly of vistas and those consist mostly of rubble. The rest of the time it feels like Hitch’s art is crammed into too many small panels which does his big action style no favors.When you think of Bryan Hitch you thing of large panels with room to breathe but reading Age of Ultron #1 started to feel claustrophobic.

Ultimately I find that you can best judge the first issue of an event by the following criteria: did I want to read the next issue? And the answer with Age of Ultron, despite not being thrilled by the art, is yes, very much so.

Story: 3.5 / Art: 2.5 / Overall: 3

(Out of 5 Stars)


  1. Does this run for every week for 10 weeks?

    • Not quite, but pretty close.

      Here are the release dates as they stand at the moment. Of course these could change:
      Issue#1- 3/6/2013
      Issue#2- 3/13/2013
      Issue#3- 3/27/2013
      Issue#4- 4/3/2013
      Issue#5- 4/10/2013
      Issue#6- 4/17/2013
      Issue#7- 5/1/2013
      Issue#8- 5/15/2013
      Issue#9- To Be Solicited
      Issue#10- To Be Solicited

  2. Great review. though a low score for a seeming recommendation to try it…

    I really liked the Freudian perspective and how the story uses man’s core fears, like “the fear of killer robots” hehe

  3. I read a review of this on IGN (why do you guys get to pick apart the book before it’s release? I should ask how, I WANT THAT JOB!), it sounds pretty much like “Secret Invasion” but with Ultron. Not even gonna skim the issues, I’ll just wait until my library gets the trade. “Siege” was decent, but had some large plotholes (or maybe a timejump in the story I missed), I think it’s only good when compared to the lackluster events before it, so that brings it down.

    • Secret Invasion was a great idea but what people expected was something wholly different than what they got. I wanted a mini-series about Earth being conquered by Skrulls, instead we got a romp through the Savage Land with vague mentions of a Skrull conquest right before the big finale. Honestly, Secret Invasion should have been the new status quo over Dark Reign.

      Siege was a good event but it, like Civil War, is vastly improved by reading all the tie ins.

      Age of Ultron is looks to have the feel of what I wanted out of Secret Invasion, so I’m happy.

  4. The word “dystopian” + Hero shot of Clint Barton = Your mediocre score is invalidated. (Now I gotta buy this)

  5. The last I read anything with Ultron, he was taking over the entire galaxy. Has he been demoted from Galactic Conqueror to measly Earth Smasher?

    • His body got destroyed during one of the Abnett-Lanning cosmic epics and his conscious woke up recently in the body of a space knight on Earth.

  6. Oh no! 3.5? That doesnt sound too good. I had high hopes for this. I guess the jokes on me. I still have fond memories of Busiek’s big Ultron story a decade back.

  7. Im buying this more out of being an Avengers fan than really wanting to read it. Im pretty done with the Bendis written Avengers right now.