This was a series that I'd been looking forward to for a long time, and I have to say that I've been nothing but disappointed with it so far. I was expecting something phenomenal, and all we've been given is something mediocre, and I just hope that in the long run this will be a good series, with a bad start.
I have to say to start with that my rating is on the overall issue, as both halves of the issue were completely different in terms of quality, but overall this was an improvement. Brian Michael Bendis isn't a bad writer, as he's been doing brilliantly on All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy recently, and he did write some brilliant stories during his run on the Avengers, even if the run was a little inconsistent, but unfortunately the start to this story wasn't brilliant, which was a shame as I was really looking forward to it, and although this issue is better, it's still far from perfect. It does however show that there is more depth to this story, and I hope that it's now on the right track. The one problem that I did have was that still not a lot was explained, and although there was some stuff that was, it's still a bit annoying. There was however a few surprises that made up a bit for this, and overall, although still not as good as I'd have hoped it still manages to show potential, which keeps up the hope that it will eventually be as good as I was hoping it'd be, but I still fear that it may be one of the poorer Marvel crossovers in recent history.
The art from Bryan Hitch continues to amaze me, and this is easily the best thing about this issue, and the series so far. I've always loved Hitch's artwork over the years, and his work on The Ultimates, and Fantastic Four has been brilliant, and his more recent work on America's Got Powers has also been fantastic, but his art on this series has been simply phenomenal. Whether you think the story itself is good, or bad, you can't fault the artwork, as Hitch has really made this apocalyptic setting, and the people, and events in it look epic, and it's just beautiful to look at. The detail is also brilliant, and even the panels that have the characters in the distance has been handled well, as although there isn't a great lot of detail in them, there is in the surrounding setting. The characters emotions are also brilliant, and there simply isn't anything I can fault about the art, and all I can say is I will miss it after issue 5 (Hitch is only doing the art on the first 5 issues).
This issue starts with Luke Cage and She-Hulk having a small disagreement, which ultimately ends in Luke punching She-Hulk. This was quite a shocking start, but it soon rolled back to explain itself, as like we saw at the end of the last issue, Captain America has a plan, and this was it, selling She-Hulk to Ultron. This took up most of the first half of the issue, as the characters debated over whether it's a good plan or not, whilst also wondering if the right person was chosen as the person to be sold. Although it was a little slow the emotion was brilliant, and you could really feel the animosity coming from the characters, Hawkeye in particular. This sequence did also show that there might be hope for the series, and although this sequence was slow, hopefully it will lead to the hero's taking a stand against Ultron sooner, and not continue to hide in a bunker (even if that is the smart thing to do).
As I said earlier, both halves of this issue were very different, in both writing and quality. The first half had much more dialogue than the second, but I still much prefer the second half, as it was full of action, something we've not had too much of in this series so far. The second half basically consists of Red Hulk, Black Panther, and Taskmaster fighting Ultron's. I won't go into any more detail as that would give too big a spoiler away, and I don't really like to continue talking abut a issue after the half way mark to avoid spoilers, but I felt that these were two different stories that needed talked about, even if not in detail. The fight was epic, and the goal behind it was also very interesting, and I defiantly look forward to seeing the progression of this. I do however think that there could have been more dialogue, but I'm just glad to see some action to be honest, and Hitch did a brilliant job of it art wise.
I also said earlier that we still don't get any backstory to what has happened to cause this apocalyptic world, and although we got too see more of the Ultron's than we've seen so far, it still didn't give any explanation, and that is annoying. Like I've said previously I think that the origin of this story will be revealed in Ultron #1 AU, and that this series will deal with the actual events, but I still hope for some explanation in this series.
The future of this story. Due to having little to talk about from this issue, mainly due to a few things happening, with a lot of them containing spoilers I decided that I'd speak about what I expect quality wise in the future. This mainly comes from the end of this issue, and although I won't spoil anything, I will say that it was one hell of a shock, and I'd never have seen it coming. It was the perfect way to end the first month of Age of Ultron, and with the overall state of the series being mediocre I hope that this shock cultivates in a much better story from now on, but I have to be honest that although it's highly possible, and that I hope it to be so, I still fear that this series will continue to disappoint, with shocking endings that keep us ultimately hooked, but I hope that it is good, and that this is the turning point in the series, but like Avengers vs. X-Men, the number of issues in the series is too ambitious.
Although this issue was better than the rest in the series so far, it was sill far from what I hoped for in this series, but I do hope that this is a turning point. I would recommend this issue alone, but as the series hasn't been brilliant overall, I'd still recommend caution, as it could easily slip back into being poor again, and if so it'd be better leaving it and considering getting the hardback when it's out.