What kind of idiot brings a bow to a robot fight?
Help! a robot repossessed my face
Age of Ultron 1 is bleak. It’s like the worldwide financial crisis finally came to comics, everyone’s had their house repossessed, Stark can’t afford enough tin to shave his face and The Hulk stopped being angry a long time ago…now he’s just…disappointed.
The first thing Age of Ultron does is hammer into your eyes with its seriousness. Then it punches you in the jaw with a double page spread of the most important place in the world in ruin, following it up with movie font credits, loads of characters with really short hair and dubious morals, before round-housing you with Hawkeye silently killing horrible men who are horrible to horrible women. Yeah, this is serious, as serious as that Spike Lee documentary about Hurricane Katerina.
Before we get into the plot or anything, it needs to be said that Bryan Hitch is a fucking revelation. Age of Ultron is a road to Damascus moment, Jules in the coffee shop at the end of Pulp Fiction. Remember when you picked up The Ultimates for the first time? This is that good. I didn’t know you could miss art, but opening this book was like coming home. I’m not nearly qualified enough to talk about his line or composition or any of that, but I just want to drink those pages in. He seems to be drawing with the frantic energy of a man who has nothing to lose, probably because he’d already decided by this point that he’d never work with Bendis again, but it absolutely shows. I don’t know what it is, but this comic pops. I would absolutely do terrorism all over New York if I knew the final product would look as good as Hitch makes it seem.
Bendis, for his part, is…different. We’re still playing with high concepts, but instead of Back to the Future with The X Men on Acid this is Age of Apocalypse with the Avengers plus Robots on Acid. But beyond that, he’s stripped back, it feels like he trimmed 15 pages of Ellen Degeneres references from the original script. I can just see him hunched over the keyboard sweating and thinking ‘but how do I examine the major themes of this book without She Hulk stating that she is sooo totally over ninjas?’.
This first issue is dirty, it’s a street level rescue mission starring Hawkeye and the destruction and morally destitute environment of AOU. And it rips along. We’re straight into the muck, the death and the leftovers. No preamble, no ’50 years later’, no ‘this is the day the heros fell’. Bendis gives us the ‘Broken Avengers’ and it’s presented as the absolute, this is the way it has always been here. There is no world left to save. I’m sure we’ll eventually get to a time machine fail-safe that undoes everything and the whole world will go back to normal, but it really has got me excited about reading a book about Avengers with nothing left to save. It’s a great first issue. AOU is a cinematic, engaging and well written comic…I just wish it had a fucking joke or two.
I don’t know how to feel, the overall concept is a little bit dull but issue one is well written and drawn by a man possessed by art gods. Let’s just hope it stays this good.
Bonus content bitches!
We contacted Brian Michael Bendis to discover his thoughts about AOU now that it’s out. Read on for our exclusive Twintterview.