Age Of Ultron is now officially underway in the Marvel Universe. The first issue starts with many splash pages delivered by Bryan Hitch cutting into a post apocalyptic New York City. Hawkeye uncovers drug dealers led by Leland Owlsley. Leland is distributing mutant growth hormone which is commonly referred to as MGH in the Marvel Universe. Hawkeye then discovers Spider-Man in a room full of hired bodyguards. Hawkeye saves Spider-Man with a few arrows. After setting Spider-Man free the two are then further pursued by Owlsley and his guards. The situation escalates further as a pack of Ultron try to kill Hawkeye and Spider-man. The two barely survive and hurry back to the safehouse. Hawkeye is not greeted with open arms as the other heroes of the universe are upset with him for even attempting to save Spider-Man. Luke Cage and She-Hulk restrain the two heroes as Tony Stark assesses whether Hawkeye and Spider-Man have been compromised by Ultron. Iron Man’s tests prove negative and the heroes are safe. Luke Cage shows Hawkeye a depressed Captain America in the fetal position and the issue concludes.
While the issue is mostly solid it has one huge problem: familiarity. With Comic Books existing for so many years many grim and gritty alternate realities have been constructed before within the confines of the Marvel Universe, Age of Apocalypse, Days Of Future Past, and House Of M instantly come to mind. There is no central idea presented within this story to make this other reality truly different or unique. On the opening caption of the first page the story claims it takes place today but based on the other Marvel Now! books it’s taking place in some strange alternate reality. The purpose of this Comic is so undefined one questions why it exists at all, outside of being a big Marvel event. Brian Michael Bendis has expressed that this was originally supposed to be an Avengers story and based on the writing here it may have served much better within the pages of the Avengers books.
With all of the context of the event aside this issue does deliver some good moments. The opening action scene was enthralling as Hawkeye fights against dozens of men and finds Spider-Man trapped. Also interesting was choosing which Avengers or X-Men were among the heroes in the safe-house. For instance Cyclops was nowhere to be scene but Emma Frost was front and center. While no definitive time stamp has been made other than today has been made the series gives you the impression that the heroes have been hiding from the Ultron for a long time which could lead to some interesting new dynamics between characters. The pencils of Bryan Hitch are ultra detailed especially in the splash pages of the the opening to the issue. For the most part his pencils add a lot to the facial expressions of the story and the surroundings. The coloring by Paul Mounts is lifeless and dull it sets the tone for the story inside the Comic and would only work for a story like this one. While the art is by no means perfect it sets the tone well for the story at hand.
With an incredibly familiar story Age Of Ultron has a lot to prove in the next few issues.