Dec 29, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 308: Age of Ultron #2, May 2013

Did I mention that this comic is bleak and despairing?

Don't believe the cover. Black Widow and Moon Knight are looking a lot worse for the wear in the interior. As the surviving New York heroes listen to Peter Parker's story, and wonder if the whole world has been overrun, BW and MK scavenge through the wastelands of San Francisco. If it's not the whole world, it seems that the North American continent, at least, is Ultron territory. It puts me in mind of the Age of Apocalypse, though for some reason this is much scarier. I think it's because rather than an alternate life under a despotic ruler, the Age of Ultron is simply death under a creature that sees humankind as a plague. There's no mercy in Ultron, no vain hope for a shred of humanity - we know Apocalypse is brutal and cruel, but he has respect for beings other than himself if they prove strong. Ultron just wants everyone and everything dead.

Bendis is stretching his legs in this issue a bit. A 10-issue series, not giant round of summer tie-ins - he can tell a story at his, and its, own pace. So he does. The comic is divided into two stories, basically. In San Francisco, a secret Nick Fury base is occupied by two deep cover superheroes. Fury always has a plan, so we're offered that hope. In New York, Spider-Man tells his tale of being kidnapped and almost sold to Ultron, and something sparks inside Captain America, who claims to have a plan.

Here's the thing, Cap. We're only two issues into a ten issue series. That's pretty much a guarantee that your plan isn't going to work. Sorry.

But it does tell us that, despite being pushed to a place that, likely, none of them wanted to go, they still have hope. They still embody one of the fundamental qualities of the superhero - that they can always find a way to save the world. I guess the question is what is that world going to look like once it's saved?

More tomorrow.

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