Age of Ultron 10

age of ultron 10 AU

Today, Drew are Shelby are discussing Age of Ultron 10, originally released June 19th, 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.

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Drew: Age of Ultron 9 found Taylor asking “What is time?” It’s something so central to our perception of the world, yet something we barely understand. Issue 10 continues the trend of focusing on subjects at the edge of our scientific understanding, this time taking up the question “What is reality?” What really are these things we believe to be true? History, as they say, is written by the victors (and re-written by whoever beats them, and so on), suggesting that “reality” might be a bit more subjective than we like to think. But what if the victors could actually alter history, not just our retellings of it? What if reality was objectively malleable? That’s kind of the question this series has been asking all along, but its conclusion puts a finer point on it, making the very fabric of Marvel’s “reality” the focus of this issue.

The issue picks up a few months ago, where time-travelin’ Wolverine and Sue Storm have just left tipped off Henry Pym that he needs to activate the self-destruct code he built into Ultron (way back when our time-dispaced heroes confronted him in issue 9). He manages to shut down Ultron, but then reality shatters reality in a scene that looks for all the world like Marvel’s version of the Retcon Punch.

Retcon Lunch

Granted, altering space-time until it collapses under its own weight is less absurd than a bad guy punching reality itself, but the effects seem to be similar. We see multiple versions of characters (zombie versions, Ultimate Universe versions, pirate versions) potentially collapsing into one, and the result is the reconciling of at least two different continuities, as Angela is brought in from Spawn. It also looks like this has somehow pushed Galactus into the Ultimate Universe. Honestly, we don’t see the full ramifications of this potentially Universe-altetring event, but it has the potential to change pretty much anything about Marvel’s continuity.

Oh, and time travel might now be off-limits. I’m actually a fan of time-travel stories, but this event in particular set a nasty precedent for future Marvel conflicts. They really needed to take time travel off of the table, or it would always be an out for our heroes. Of course, this also has ramifications for current Marvel stories. All-New X-Men has featured the time-displaced original X-Men lineup, and Thor: God of Thunder features three different Thors from three different points in history, who are currently all hanging out in the distant future. Are they not allowed to go back? Would not allowing them to go back cause more or less damage to the space time continuum?

That stuff makes my head hurt, and like I said, we haven’t seen all of the ramifications yet. Who knows what this will mean for the Marvel Universe going forwards? Based on Carol’s Ms. Marvel outfit in the “some months ago” bit, the changes could be whatever tweaks were made in the shift to Marvel NOW — that is, maybe we’ve already seen the ramifications — but we’ll have to wait to find out. I’m hoping these questions will be explained in the other Age of Ultrons 10 (A.I. and U.C.) as well as the epilogue, but I’m not sure if/when/how we’ll see the effects on other titles. If this reality-altering event happened “some months ago,” we’ve actually been living in this reality for a while.

Shelby, usually when we talk about meaning, it’s not confusion about what just happened, but here we are. This issue might be kind of difficult to talk about without a clear idea of what these events might actually mean, but hey, we love Retcon Punches around here, right? Getting in at the ground floor of what could turn out to be Marvel’s own Infinite Crisis is kind of exciting in its own right, but that’s a weird, meta-text place to draw excitement from. What do you think, Shelby: was the issue exciting enough in its own right, or am I focusing too much on its potential implications?

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Shelby: Is it wrong to say “I don’t know?” Because I’ll be honest, retcon punch or no I don’t know where I stand on this issue or its implications for the Marvel universe.

As a conclusion to Age of Ultron, this was a pretty satisfactory resolution. We all knew things were going to go back to normal somehow, and to accomplish it by travelling back and forth in time and taking a solution from an alternate future and applying it to an altered past is a pretty slick way to do it. It’s complicated enough to avoid the “…and magically everything is better!” letdown. It’s also just shy of being so complicated and ridiculous that I throw the book down in disgust. Only just, mind you. To answer your first question, this issue was definitely exciting enough on it’s own. There’s a big fight and a race against time to deploy a virus within a virus to defeat the ultimate A.I. The tension in that last battle is very real; if I didn’t know comics as well as I do, I might have doubted the good guys were going to pull it off.

That’s not to say we should focus any less on the potential implications of this conclusion, because I think they are going to be even more important than we realize. My problem is my lack of experience with the Marvel universe. I recognize that this reality recoil is going to change a lot of things in big ways, but I’m just not invested enough in all the characters to really know what that means.

marvel universe reality smash

I understand what this is supposed to be because I know how comics work. This is a treasure trove, a scavenger hunt, a speculation factory. This spread (and the one Drew posted) is so chock-full of clues, heavy Marvel readers should be jumping up and down in their chairs. My problem is, I just don’t know enough about the Marvel universe, either past or present outside the books I’m reading, to really grasp the significance of these images. It’s neat to see a blond, hip Wolverine, or a lady Captain America, but to me it’s just that: neat. It’s not necessarily a fault of the book itself, it just leaves me unprepared to fully grasp the implications which will surely be far-reaching and serious. Even the big Angela reveal rings a little hollow, simply because I am wholly unfamiliar with her as a character. I’m intrigued and excited, namely because she’s a Neil Gaiman creation, and it’s a well-documented fact that I love everything about him. I know she’s the counterpoint to Spawn as an assassin from Heaven instead of an assassin from Hell, and that is all that I know. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she’s going to fit in to the rest of the Marvel universe, or what’s left of it after it shatters into pieces, anyway.

I can’t help but feel like this whole event was just a set-up for the next event, much like Rise of the Third Army was really just a prologue to Wrath of the First Lantern. Even though it was an exciting issue, and a satisfying conclusion to the Ultron story, leaping into the next big thing left me a little unsatisfied. Momentum is important, but I would have liked more of an opportunity for the events of Ultron to sink in. What I really want to know is who I have to talk to make a pirate Ben Grimm book a reality. It’s clobberin’ time, ye scallywags!

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For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

14 comments on “Age of Ultron 10

  1. Hey, so let’s talk about Age of Ultron 10 U.C. – first of all, I believe it’s changed its name to “HUNGER” and is now a four issue mini. I’ve seen the solicit for #2 (of 4), but I can’t figure out when 1 is supposed to come out. Further, as someone who doesn’t read any Ultimate Comics, I do feel a little manipulated that this event is like “You want resolution on this part of the story? Better read this whole other universe of comics!” I’m tempted to read Hunger, but will that just make it impossible to ignore the rest of the Ultimate line? Further, should we expect more interaction between these universe in the future? Or is UC just borrowing Galactus for a while and that’s that?

    • The Ultimate Universe is pretty easy to jump in and out of. I’ve picked up a few issues of Spider-Man here and there to check in on Miles and the world just sort of happens as the story does, so I doubt it will distract or attempt to coerce you into reading any others in the Ultimate line more so than comics normally do.

      And crud, I have no idea about Galactus. Maybe he can walk between universes now. I have no clue. UC is probably just borrowing the giant purple man threatening to eat everything.

  2. I said this after Avengers Vs. X-Men and I’ll say it again. I’m out. I’m not buying any more of these stupid huge crossover events. I hate them every time. I wish I had my $50 back that I spent on this crap so I could go golfing or buy a cheap pair of shoes or a really nice steak or tip 50 different dancing girls one time each or really anything else I could possibly do with $50.

    And I know I’m getting the next one even though I hate it because I was there when Spider-Man got his black uniform and it was the coolest thing ever ever ever and even though I know it’s not happening again and I know they are just a waste of my time and money I’ll do it again and again because of that one time that it was good.

    Oh well. See you for Infinity.

    • Hahaha – the best part is the defeated acknowledgement that you’re going to pick up the next big event anyway.

      It’s definitely a bummer how much of a bait-and-switch AoU ended up being. The series did such a strong and clear job of establishing itself as a “Robots destroy everything” narrative, and then that turns into a story about time travel unraveling space time? Like, I get that it’s comics, so everything is fair game, but that is thematically muddled to the point of being incoherent.

      • I guess it’s kind of like LOST, in that way, huh?

        (I mean that mostly as a joke, but the whole trajectory of finding characters first dealing with disaster, then with time travel, and finally with an unexpected resolution in an alternate universe is surprisingly LOST-like.)

        • That’s a solid joke. But LOST also quickly established itself as about its mysteries and its characters, layering in weird science fictiony stuff from the pilot (monster, polar bear, french woman). I don’t know about you, but when we got to time travel in LOST, I was totally ready for it. Ready to spend time in the past, ready to see how John Locke was the architect of his own fabled legacy, ready to see how time behaved differently on the island. Ultron uses time travel as a method of problem solving and not as a hardship for it’s characters to endure.

      • Honestly, I’m not sure I could sum up age of Ultron.

        Ultron killed everyone, Sue and Logan went back in time to kill Pym but the present still sucked so they went back again to unkill him and secretly put in a fail safe so they (and I’m not sure which they I’m talking about really) could actually kill Ultron.

        Is that it? And then Galactus said hi to Miles and was there a resolution to the Vision being all fucked up? And maybe no more time travel, which I guess is ok since Bendis wrote Ultron and Bendis writes time traveling X-Men.

        But this really wasn’t very good. Parts of 1-5 were cool with the whole world ending imagery and the sadness and a couple of the crossovers were actually really good, but mostly it just wasn’t.

        Honestly? The worst part? My girlfriend’s dog ate Age of Ultron 10. I don’t care at all except I bought 1-9 and while I didn’t like it that much, I hate not having the whole damned thing. So now I have to buy issue ten a second time.

        • I mean, the part that’s most dumbfounding about it is that if they wanted to do a too-much-time-travel story, they could have had a LOT more fun with it. Like, we only get one set of alternate-timeline characters? Seems like there could have been a lot more chaotic, and lot more varied exploration of alternate realities. The only alternate version of our characters (and their universe) we get is that Morgana Le Fay nonsense, and it’s like an even-more-boring-Flashpoint.

          I can totally see where someone could have wanted something big to kill time travel – it’s a damn epidemic. It almost feels like this event was retrofitted to address that purpose. Like what was the deal with Wolverine’s run-in with the Brood? That sure as fuck didn’t pay off.

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