Age Of Ulton

By Bendis, Hitch, Pacheco & PetersonAgeOfUltron
Publisher: Marvel
ISBN: 9781846535406

It would be misguided to say that this book spawned the movie – the only real similarity beyond the characters is the name. Whereas the movie plunders years of Ultron-related stories to build a strong introduction to the character in the cinematic world, the comic was instead building on those past tales to tell something more daring and complex than went before, making for a major cross-title event that turned the Marvel comic universe on its head.

The story begins in the modern day, but it’s not one we’d recognise. Ultron has already seized power, using vast swathes of duplicate bodies to cleanse Earth of as much of humanity as possible. Many of the heroes still exist, but are hiding beneath New York City after some tragic losses. The one man who appears not to have given up is Hawkeye, undertaking a daring mission in the shadow of Ultron’s vast metropolis that has eaten most of Manhattan and the surrounding areas. His aim is to rescue Spider-man, beaten and broken and at the mercy of a clutch of villains who aim to use him as a bargaining chip to curry favour with their new overlord. Even after Hawkeye’s success, however, the other heroes are not best pleased that Hawkeye risked exposing their cover. Deciding they need intel they opt to play the villains’ game and trade one of their own (Luke Cage) so he can gather information from the inside, and although this is successful, it only is up to a point.

From this point on it gets rather more complicated, with one set of heroes needed to travel to the future and a smaller band taking it upon themselves to travel to the past. Both aim to correct the mess Ultron has made of the world, but the one to the past is the most drastic – to kill the Avenger who made Ultron before he gets the chance to build it (and, no, it’s not Tony Stark).

It’s a mighty thick book, with some great artists working through Bendis’s script in each of the set pieces. The opening arc is all illustrated by Bryan Hitch, the guy responsible for the The Ultimates that went on to be the foundation of the Marvel cinematic universe as we now know it, so it’s a cracking beginning to an epic tale.

So if you’ve been put off of this because you think you’ve already seen the movie – don’t be. Comics have always had the infinite budget that movies can only dream of, so they can go to myriad places, tell complex and outrageous stories and feature a whole multitude of characters, daring to tell bigger and bolder stories, and this book does exactly that. It’s not just about fist-fights and destruction, it’s about big complex ideas coupled with personal anguish and doubtful morals, and the very things that make a hero a hero.

And if you liked that: Check out The Ultimates

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