We've been waiting a while for AGE OF ULTRON and as soon as you open the comic, the story is already underway.
When it comes to starting a story or event, there's a few ways to do it. We've seen the previews and teaser images. We know it's a desolate world with Ultron in power and the heroes trying to defeat him. What we didn't know is how it all started and how the world got to that state.
All stories should have a beginning, middle and end but I love that we're immediately thrown into the fire. Maybe it's due to the wait, but I don't want to see a slow build where the world gets turned upside down. There are, of course, disadvantages to starting off a story this way but it adds a sense of mystery and suspense. And let's be clear, this isn't taking place in the near future. This is today in the Marvel Universe. In other words, holy crap!
From what we originally saw, Hawkeye and Spider-Man are in the middle of the action. I'm absolutely loving Matt Fraction's HAWKEYE to pieces but this isn't a story for the humorous Clint. We get to see Hawkeye like we don't often see him. And it's glorious. The guy has a bow and arrow. What can you do with a bow and arrow besides shoot people in a painful way?
This is just one area Bryan Hitch's art looks great. It's a gritty world full of gritty action. The kid gloves are off. What I really dig is how Hitch changes up the angles from panel to panel. Whether it's a zoom in on a piece of tech, a panned out view of a room full of danger or seeing a behind-the-head view of the action as Hawkeye is about to fire a crossbow -- it all looks good.
The other joy is in seeing who else is going to appear. What other characters will Bendis throw at us and how are they affected by what's going on.
While the story already begins with the Age of Ultron underway, there is a slightly slow build until the action kicks in. We get a look at the surroundings and it takes a few pages for the action to start up. The momentum of the story does build from there.
The fact that this story has been hyped for so long may work against this first issue. Readers will be expecting quite a bit, if they're even opened to jumping into yet another comic book event. Because it's Bendis and Hitch, we can definitely expect a payoff but seeing a world this devastated also ensures things will 'get better' eventually.
With the story jumping right into apocalyptic world, there isn't an actual introduction to the characters involved. When they appear, there's no time for the backstory. The average comic reader will be able to take all this with no problem. We've seen stories in alternate worlds, timelines and realities before. New readers will feel as if they've missed something since there isn't an introduction to how the world came to this state. We can assume all will be explained. Hopefully the newer readers will be hooked enough to stick around to find out.
AGE OF ULTRON has finally begun. Without seeing the trigger that caused the Marvel Universe to become devastated, there are definite pros and cons with the first issue. We don't get bogged down by seeing the events take shape. The opportunity to jump right into the action is here. At the same time, we have no idea how it came to this state. There is a nice sense of mystery along with a feeling of despair seeing the heroes and world like this. The art and action gets intense and you will feel the need to want to know how all this came to be. Bendis has started another ambitious story. It's not just anyone that can cause such devastation to the Marvel Universe without explaining it step by step. We can assume big things are coming. We're already getting a glimpse of the craziness we can expect. Was AGE OF ULTRON worth the wait? With everything Bendis and Hitch throw at us in this first issue, the answer is yes.