Today’s Super Comics — Age of Ultron #1-10 (2013)

Age_of_Ultron_Vol_1_1I finally got around to reading the miniseries from which the last Avengers movie took its name, and yeah, other than the title and threat of Ultron, not much in the way of similarities.

Age of Ultron the comic begins as a post-apocalyptic tale featuring several Marvel superheroes striving to do whatever they can for a world that’s already ended. And it shifts gears into a time-travel adventure starring the odd-couple pairing of Wolverine and the Invisible Woman (a brilliant pairing, as they’re total opposites in so many ways—shame there wasn’t more time to spend with them). And it somehow winds up being a story about the importance of one deeply flawed man—Ultron’s creator, Hank Pym.

And even with the time-travel shenanigans and the inevitable reset to undo the apocalypse, events have consequences for the present-day Marvel Universe.

It’s not the movie, but it does feel like a big-budget superhero film in comic book form, with lots of favorite characters (and alternate versions of such) each getting time to shine. Nowhere near perfect, like the movie, but it’s lots of fun regardless, also like the movie. (So maybe there are more similarities.)

Different artists contributed over the course of the series, but the differences in their styles feel appropriate, never jarring. Bryan Hitch sets the tone in the first half—the man draws a great apocalypse. And, of course, Brian Michael Bendis wrote the entire series, and at this point I’m convinced he’s a comic book savant.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; Age of Ultron (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Avengers #32 (2012)

Avengers_Vol_4_32Brian Michael Bendis kicked off his nearly decade-long stint of writing the Avengers by demolishing the team in the “Avengers Disassembled” arc, so it’s fitting that his final storyline reunited the classic team and un-killed the Avengers’ original heroine.

Issue #32 is the second part of what we might as well call the “Bringing Wasp Back from the Dead” arc, though it’s technically dubbed “End Times.” The team’s roster has swelled considerably and branched off into two squads (maybe three if you count the Secret Avengers, but they’re secret, so…shhhh!), but here much of the focus narrows onto Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Giant Man has they shrink into a micro-world to, they hope, find the Wasp and bring her home, like she’s Matt Damon or something.

So, if you don’t count the Hulk and if you want to grandfather Cap in, that means the story focuses on the original Avengers in all their original glory. Whether it’s due to the history or the characters’ chemistry, watching these five working together is always a treat.

In particular, Bendis’s lively characterization of the Wasp is spot-on, and the reunion scene is about perfect. Even at the end of his run (which finished two issues later), Bendis still had it.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencilers: Mike Mayhew and Brandon Peterson

Inker: Brandon Peterson

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Avengers vol. 5 (TPB) (2013)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up