Hey, this thing is actually getting interesting?
If you read the last three reviews I did of this event book (Hi, all two of you!) you’ll remember that I’ve been very skeptical of it from the start. The opening issue didn’t impress me, the second treaded water a bit, and the third only began to show something a little intriguing. I won’t say that issue four kicks Age of Ultron wide open, but at the very least it does present some of the greater story that I’ve been hoping for all this time, and even if I don’t end up liking where that goes, I can finally say I like where it is right now.
NOTE: Spoilers for the last three issues ahead.
So, last issue Luke Cage took She-Hulk to Ultron’s headquarters atop the ruins of Manhattan with the hope of “selling” her to the artificial intelligence and figuring out why Ultron was interested in buying superheroes in the first place when he could just, you know, kill them. Once there, Cage discovered that the being at the center of all that technology wasn’t Ultron, but a ripped-in-half Vision. From there, Cage and She-Hulk learn a secret that could change the whole face of this comic (which I won’t reveal here). Meanwhile, Captain America, Iron Man and the rest of the Manhattan superhero survivors make their way to the Savage Land, and Black Widow and Moon Knight plot their own escape from San Francisco.
This is my favorite issue of the event so far, not just because it shows our heroes being more proactive than reactive for the first time, but because it sheds light on the Ultron story in ways we hadn’t seen before. I was worried, especially after the “Look at all the carnage that’s already happened” vibe of the first issue, that this would be a very simple, single-layered Ultron tale. Ultron wants to destroy humanity, humanity fights back, one side wins and one side loses. But after the revelations of the last two issues it’s clear that something bigger is at work here, and that’s, if nothing else, comforting to me. It was easy for me to get excited about something like, say Avengers vs. X-Men or even Fear Itself (because the concept of the nemesis intrigued me more than most Marvel event books), but this one had me skeptical. Ultron is a great nemesis in the right hands, but it’s hard to make a killer robot (in any context) more interesting than “Hey, look out for that killer robot!” With this issue, Brian Michael Bendis seems to be proving that he’s capable of overcoming that.
Not that we’re out of the woods yet, mind you. We still have six more issues to get through, and at any time we could fall victim to deus ex machina or a surprising and completely ridiculous twist, neither of which are new to Marvel event books. Still, if you were waiting for things to really kick in with this comic, Book Four is the one that did it for me. Now I’m not just ready to be impressed, but I’m convinced that I can be.