“Age of Ultron” has been teased at Marvel Comics in one form or another for more than two years — including the timeline in Avengers #5, Avengers #12.1(re-released this past Free Comic Book Day), 2011′s Marvel Point One one-shot and just this past Friday with a binary code that translates to “Age Of Ultron.”
It looks like full details of the project — which we know involves writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Bryan Hitch — will be revealed today around 3 p.m., during Marvel’s latest “Next Big Thing” conference call with the comic book press. We’ll be on the line covering the conference live as it happens, and this page will be continually updates with the latest — so keep hitting refresh.
On the line: Writer Brian Michael Bendis and executive editor Tom Brevoort. “Age of Ultron” is a 10-issue limited series, shipping between March and June. Bryan Hitch will be drawing the first five issues, and the second five will be drawn by Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco. “There will be a very cool reason for the artistic shift,” Marvel marketing’s Arune Singh says.
“‘Age of Ultron’ is about Ultron finally fulfilling his destiny, accelerating his intelligence and taking the Earth,” Bendis says. “The Marvel Universe has been taken by Ultron. There has been a shocking amount of devastation and casualty.”
Bendis clarifies that though the story started in Avengers, the story involved the entire Marvel Universe. “It stars the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Moon Knight, Black Widow, it goes all over the place,” the writer says.
Bendis continues, saying they wanted to give readers a “unique” Bryan Hitch experience by waiting to solicit the book until his section was done, thus allowing the issues to ship rapidly. “We came up with a schedule that allows us to tell the whole story in a smaller batch at a time, and get to the stuff at the end, which is really kind of shocking and big for us and the Marvel Universe.” Bendis says there are only six people who know the ending, and he’s not even telling some of his closest friends. “That’s how big of a secret it is.”
“There’s a break in this story that’s pretty seismic,” Bendis says, leading to the artist change. “Overall, a unique event experience,” Bendis continues, saying the story is about what happens when one of the biggest villains in the Marvel Universe succeeds in doing what he always wanted to do.
Brevoort adds that they have about 150 pages of “beautiful, top-of-his-game Bryan Hitch artwork” turned in. “We have a substantial amount of this series in the can already,” Brevoort says.
How is this a different type of event for Bendis? Bendis says it’s more “contained” than others, and that the tie-ins will be contained to something more manageable and easy to digest. “Like House of M, there will be tie-ins, but it won’t be a budget-buster,” the writer says, adding that readers can buy-in at whatever level they’re comfortable.
“It reminds me of Infinity Gauntlet in that what’s happening is so outrageous,” Bendis says. “The artists that I’ve mentioned today are the artists that can do this. There are very few artists that can bring it with the gravitas that they have.”
Brevoort says that Age of Ultron essentially begins where other events end. “Ultron is here, he’s already put his footprint onto the landscape. This is happening today, in the contemporary Marvel Universe. It is happening in the Marvel NOW! Marvel Universe.” “This is Marvel NOW! with at least three or four exclamation points, instead of just the one,” Bendis jokes. “And it is in continuity.”
Bendis says the seeds go back to the 2007 Mighty Avengers story by him and Frank Cho, and the most relevant prologue would be this year’s Free Comic Book Day issue/Avengers #12.1.
First press question, from Word Balloon, asks about timing: Brevoort says it’ll be three issues in March, three in April, two in May, two in June, plus an epilogue in June. There will be a about six or seven tie-ins total, mostly in May, including an issue of Superior Spider-Man.
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