age of ultron

Comic Con News

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Big news came out of this summer’s conventions.

Big Movie News:

  • Batman/Superman Movie
  • Days of Future Past
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Age of Ultron
  • Amazing Spder-Man

We also go over a lot of new comic announcements including Wolverine Origins and Villains United.

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Since the Marvel Studios Panel at SDCC, the comics blogosphere has been buzzing with speculation, anticipation, and in some cases downright dismay.  Of course I’m referring to the revelation that “Avengers 2″ will be formally be titled Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The studio, by way of both Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige, were quick to issue a number of statements clarifying just what that would mean for the studios finale to Phase 2 of their cinematic universe.

First, Whedon went on record explaining that this movie would in no way be an adaptation of the recently completed Marvel Comics event by the same name:

A lot of people, because we called it Age of Ultron, and there was a book Age of Ultron just recently, assumed that was the storyline we’re doing, which is not the case.

 AgeOfUltron_1_Cover

Fans next logical question, of course became, “What about Hank Pym?”  As a founding member of The Avengers and Ultron’s creator in the comics, and with an Ant-Man movie opening up Marvels Phase 3 intitiative, many hoped he would become a prevalent focus of where the story would be heading. Those hopes were quickly put to bed by the director:

We’re doing our own version of the origin story of Ultron. In the origin story, there was Hank Pym, so a lot of people assumed that he will be in the mix. He’s not. We’re basically taking the things from the comics for the movies that we need and can use.

So, if we forego Ultron’s original origin story, where is it that Ultron could come from?  Though vague Whedon did offer the following:

We’re sort of crafting our own version of it where his origin comes more directly from the Avengers we already know about.

Well if we’re dealing with the Avengers we already know about that can really only lead to one conclusion, Tony Stark.  This easily coincides with reports of the teaser Marvel showed during their panel in which a piece of metal (resembling an Iron Man helmet) is being beaten into the shape of Ultron’s head.

From here on out I’ll be treading in full on speculation territory, so hold on tight.

I believe that Ultron’s origins lie directly in the relationship between Tony and Jarvis.  Tony has always treated his tools, machines and creations as more than metal and circuits and programming.  Tony sees them as individuals.  He treats them like people, and we can see from the very beginning with the robotic arms in Iron Man (2008), these machines developing personality traits and by Iron Man 3 displaying near emotion, in the case of Jarvis.  The best example of Jarvis’ evolution over time was displayed during the newest chapter in the Iron Man saga when you could clearly hear the voice emote fear when Tony’s life was in peril.

In my mind there are two possibilities:  either Tony out of his own “love” for Jarvis will create him a suit that Jarvis can take over permanently giving rise to his eventual turn to Ultron, or Jarvis will grow in sentience and behind Tony’s back create the Ultron suit himself.  In either scenario, this will create the emotional hook that will lead Stark to seek out and rely on The Avengers.  As the death of Coulson provided that hook in the first Avengers, the loss and “turn” of Jarvis will prove to Tony that his hubris has reached a new height and left him vulnerable and unable to handle his own mistakes.

Am I way off base and will Tony simply create a new AI that will quickly turn on its maker?  Is Jarvis too integral a part of the team of heroes to have my theory come to pass?  Remember this is Joss Whedon we’re talking about and he loves nothing more than turning our favorite characters to villains, or turning them into the deceased…or both.

My Picks of the Week

Marvel Now and The New 52 keep plugging along. Age of Ultron keeps getting better and the tie-ins have been exceptional. Superior Spider-Man’s story escalates and the repercussions of Rot World continue. It’s a Pre-Infinity and Pre-Trinity War landscape. Iron Man is on Friday and Free Comic Book Day is later this week. That’s where we’re at now let’s check out the best of the week (and one that just didn’t work).

The Best

detailX-Men Legacy #10

Marvel Comics

Writer: Simon Spurrier

Artist: Paul Davidson

The first 9 issues of this series were used to establish David Haller’s mindset and where he fits in the Marvel Universe since his father, Charles Xavier, died. The past few issues have gone a long way to establish David’s relationship with the mutant Blindfold. Everything feels like it’s been leading up to this new storyline that begins with this issue. Many who heard that Legion would be the star of his own series were very surprised and confused. With all the mutants out there more popular than him (literally dozens and dozens) how long would a book last about his adventures. It turns out that his outsider designation is exactly what propels this book. David does not see himself as a super hero and find most of them ridiculous. His biggest battles are internal ones and his attitude on his potential is far different that a more stock hero’s. This issue covers a lot of ground and works as a jumping on point for the series. I also feel as the the antagonist of this story might be something that no mutant has ever faced. You can’t call him a villain and it’s VERY easy to see where he is coming from. I think this book is exploring territories none of the X-Men books have since potentially the 90s series X-Man but this book has a much less mainstream feel to it. This feels like a Vertigo style X-Men book and I hope it continues to explore deeper territory.

file_204655_1_AgeOfUltron_7_TeaserAge of Ultron #7

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Martinez

This is what I really like about alternate reality stories. A science fiction trope that ranks high in my favorites is the idea of changing the past and the ripple affect that it has from that point on. These stories from Back to the Future, Star Trek’s Mirror Mirror, and most comparatively The Age of Apocalypse. It all goes back to Ray Bradbury’s 1952 “A Sound of Thunder”. That story gives us the butterfly effect which states that a small change at one place can result in large differences to a later state. This story really is yet another Age of Apocalypse style story where the elimination of one important figure in the past yields a different world all together in the new present. In fact, Bendis’s own House of M deals with very similar ideas. I’m hoping that this is just one stop in this story that has yet to really deal with the titular Ultron. Still, fun deviation that I am sure will be mined at a later date. The art is exceptional in this issue especially with how the art chorus were broken up. Let’s all hope this is going somewhere that matters.

IM2012009_DC11Iron Man #9

Marvel Comics

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

This is the prologue to what is suppose to be the biggest Iron Man story of the year. Since this is a year with an Iron Man movie in theaters, I’ll listen to Marvel hyperbole more than I usually do. I’ve been impressed with every issue of Kieron Gillen’s Marvel Now Iron Man and it feels like most of it has been leading up to this. I think the addition of Dale Eaglesham is a welcome one after the recent arch with Greg Land. This prologue feels like a bridge between Tony’s space adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy and an origin story. I was unsure how there could be a natural bridge until I saw the last panel of this book. Suffice to say, the next issue can’t come fast enough after this cliff hanger. Fans of the movie franchise could very well start here with the comic but you’d be missing out on the equally approachable previous 8 issues. If you haven’t been reading Iron Man, give it a shot again. You’ll find a hybrid science fiction/super hero comic that’s a real page turner.

Animal-Man_20_FullAnimal Man #20

DC Comics

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: John Paul Leon

Ever since Rotworld ended (and you could make a case during Rotworld) Animal Man hasn’t felt like the book I fell in love with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still been one of the better DC books but it’s horror/drama story that it started as was something that gave me so much hope for The New 52. Almost two years later, I’m not that impressed with much of what DC is publishing but Jeff Lemire’s work has continued to be the high water mark (for books not starring Batman). This is all preface to what I’m about to say…Animal Man #20 is one of my favorite issues of 2013. It’s a refreshing reflection on what remains of Buddy Baker’s life. I’m not going to get into much detail on how Lemire tells this story but it’s very inventive and I’m surprised I haven’t read an Animal Man story like this before. What propels this issue to the top of my list for best issues of this year is the art by John Paul Leon. I am sure many who read this will draw comparisons to David Aja’s minimal line masterpieces in Hawkeye and Iron Fist but Leon’s style is also (ironically) cinematic. Like the best comic book artists, he’s really the director (more irony) of this story. Many of the most poignant panels in this issue have no words. They don’t need any. This comic is self contained and very approachable. It also punches you in the gut. Lemire excels at these emotional stories and this has been his best issue in a while. The next issue promises a new start for Buddy Baker. This issue, however, was just what I needed to remind myself why there are stories that can only be told in Animal Man.

The Most Disappointing

Detective-Comics-20Detective Comics #20

DC Comics

Writer: John Layman

Artist: Jason Fabok

Here’s a book that has been derailed a lot recently. This sort of thing happened a lot with pre-New 52 DC books and with Death of The Family, the death of Damian, and the anniversary issue, Detective Comics has struggled to finish this story. It all ends in this issue, though for the antagonist Emperor Penguin. While his rise to power was fun to watch at the beginning, we received a pretty weak payoff in this issue. Yes, it seems that the whole point of this was to create a new colorful character to Batman’s rogues gallery but we still don’t know what makes him interesting. At first it was his philosophy of staying in the shadows and being the power behind the throne that separated him from the other villains of Gotham. That was something different. The problem is that he throws that all away very quickly in this issue leaving you with a rushed and unsatisfying ending. I also felt ripped off of a chance to see Penguin rebuild an empire from nothing. That would have been a story that could have defined him and yet that wrap up happens in just a few panels. I hope Layman gets another chance at telling a memorable Batman story because in the glut of all the other Bat-Books, this is quickly becoming the least important. I will say that the art of Fabok was consistently well done and dynamic in this book, however.