Age of Ultron by
3 stars. I liked it.
Brian Michael Bendis's Age of Ultron is an entertaining if ultimately forgettable read. This story itself, where longtime Avengers villain Ultron, a malevolent and psychotic artificial intelligence, attacks the Earth and wipes out almost all life except for a handful of superhero survivors, is not bad, but it leaves a little to be desired. It never stops to tell the reader who these characters are. It seems to be a given that any potential reader is as intimately familiar with major heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine, as they are with minor league and obscure villains like the Wizard and the Mad Thinker.
After establishing the threat that is Ultron and the impossibility of defeating it, the plot reveals itself to be window dressing for yet another crossover event designed to draw in readers by featuring popular and well-liked characters, and prime them to read unrelated stories that are soon to come. Sometimes in the organic nature of comic book storytelling this works out, but more often than not, it's forced and obvious. After establishing the Ultron threat, it turns into a time travel story, where Wolverine and the Invisible Woman go back and try to prevent the creation of Ultron by murdering its creator, founding Avenger Henry Pym, only to come back to the present to discover they've made things worse, only to go back again and interfere with their slightly younger selves to prevent the murder and make Pym program Ultron to make it defeatable in the future. This sort of works, but it "breaks" time having unspecified consequences, other than the appearance of a non-Marvel character created by Neil Gaiman on the last page. Basically, this massive and overly-complicated story turns out to be just an excuse to introduce a character Marvel had negotiated the rights to use within the Marvel Universe, and she doesn't even do anything.
The structure of the collection was a little frustrating too. After ten issues of the story with the non-ending, they tack on several issues telling individual characters points-of-view of the aftermath of the Ultron invasion. Knowing that time gets reset and that they are mostly set around the McGuffin of Ultron, we know none of these stories matter, especially since the story turns out to be a lesson on the perils of time travel.
As a comic book fan, I get that stories often serve as an introduction or set up to other stories. It can be part of the fun, but it gets tiring to read so many stories with these anti-climactic endings, which only serve as advertisements for future volumes that go nowhere. -Mark Hershberger