<i>by <a href=http://www.twitter.com/albertxii>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p><b>Age of Ultron</b> has been official for a while, and we know the basics: It's a 10-issue series starting in March and ending in June, written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco and an unrevealed fourth artist, with the story depicting Ultron's destructive victory against Marvel's heroes. <p>Bendis has also <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/age-of-ultron-brian-bendis.html>stated that the ending is so top-secret</a> that "literally five people know," and that it's impossible to guess. That, to us, sounds like a challenge, so here are our best guesses for what the ending might be, presented with varying degrees of seriousness. <p>And yes, it probably goes without saying we are certainly secure enough to admit that none of these things are likely the actual outcome of <b>Age of Ultron</b>. But feel free to have fun along with us, and tell us your best guesses via the social networking links below. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
It's the de facto guess for pretty much any mystery perpetuated by Marvel for the last several years: The return of Marvelman/Miracleman, the integration of the fabled British superhero into the Marvel Universe, and the production of new comics starring the character. Some people even guessed that it was what the "Superior" teaser a few months ago was hyping, though that ended up being promotion for <b>Superior Spider-Man</b> (and yes, "some people" included <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-nycc-superior-announcement-2013.html>this very site</a> in that instance). <p>Sure, at this point an appearance in <b>Age of Ultron</b> from Marvelman, who thus far has zero history in the Marvel Universe, would seem to be pretty out of nowhere. But there's a lot we don't know about the story (it hasn't even started yet), and it's a 10-issue series, so the ending is a long ways from now. Also, it's been more than three years since Marvel has officially owned Marvelman, so he's got to show up eventually, right?
Any story that involves Ultron usually ends up involving his creator, founding Avenger Hank Pym. And given that the character has something of a reduced visibility in Marvel NOW! at this point writer Rick Remender is using the character in a Q-type role in <i>Captain America</i>, but he hasn't been seen much since <i>Avengers Academy</i> ended it's at least possible that things won't work out well for the guy in <b>Age of Ultron</b>. <p>And given Bendis's talk about "singularity," maybe we'll see some type of full-on Hank Pym/Ultron, human/artificial intelligence merger perhaps Hank is killed by his "son," but Ultron gets rewired with his creator's brain patterns, not entirely unlike Wonder Man and Vision's dynamic? <p>But it could be a little simpler than that. Marvel's <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-comics-april-2013-solicitations.html>April solicitations</a> state that "Wolverine takes it upon himself to make one of the most controversial decisions in the history of Marvel comics" in <b>Age of Ultron #6</b>, and that "Wolverine and the Invisible Woman find themselves in the Avengers' past!" in <b>Wolverine and the X-Men #27AU</b>. Hmm, controversial decision in the Avengers' past like, maybe killing original Avenger Hank Pym before he has the chance to create Ultron?
If there's one lesson to be learned from <i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i>, is that the story of a Marvel "event" series might not be what you expect it to be at the early going. <P><I>AvX</i> was definitely not just 12 issues of Avengers fighting X-Men, as the game changed with the arrival of the "Phoenix Five." So maybe Ultron isn't even the ultimate antagonist of the story, and there's even more of a threat looming on the horizon it's been stated that there's a story reason for the artistic shift after the first five issues, after all. Exactly who could outsmart a constantly evolving artificial intelligence like Ultron is a tough question, though. (Maybe that robot that plays <i>Jeopardy</i>?)
Even though everyone at Marvel vehemently denied it, rumors persisted that the end of <i>AvX</i> would bring a reboot of Marvel continuity, as something of a response to DC's New 52 revamp. <p>Now, those in power at Marvel folks like chief creative officer Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort all still seem dead-set against a reboot. Which would certainly make it surprising if it did happen, right? <b>Age of Ultron</b> has been described as a "universe-changing" event, and there are few things that could change a universe more than rewriting its history entirely. <p>Plus, given the technology-run-wild theme of the story, there's a major opportunity for a lot of "reboot" puns to be made.
OK, so Marvel doesn't seem interested in rebooting their continuity completely. But what about a tweak here and there? <p>Bendis has <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/guardians-of-the-galaxy-brian-bendis.html>discussed in interviews</a> that there's a connection between <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> and <i>All-New X-Men</i>, due to the "space-time continuum" abuse in the latter series. <p>Thanks to solicitations, we already know that <b>Age of Ultron</b> has a time travel element, with Wolverine and Invisible Woman journeying to the past. And maybe it has a ripple effect that streamlines Marvel continuity a bit not a full-scale clean slate, but a nip and a tuck as the publisher deems necessary. (Like, instead of Spider-Man meeting the old-school <i>Saturday Night Live</i> cast in <i>Marvel Team-Up #74</i>, he met Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg. And possibly other, more important chronological hiccups.)
Ultron and Vision have a complicated history. Ultron created Vision, but Vision has long been a hero and a loyal Avenger, while Ultron is clearly the exact opposite. <p>Sounds like the perfect recipe to a <i>Freaky Friday</i>-esque body-switching scenario, and they're especially primed for it, not being human and all. It could go down a couple of different ways: Vision dies, but they switch brains, leading to a heroic Ultron (twist!); or, Ultron dies, but switches minds with Vision, becoming a double-agent Avenger (also a twist!). <p>Or they just stay in each other's bodies and have to convince their friends and loved ones that everything's normal, until they find out how they can reverse their situation. Because really, who would guess that <b>Age of Ultron</b> would end as a lighthearted comedy romp? <p>Either way, between <i>Superior Spider-Man</i>, recent <i>Captain America</i> developments and Red Skull's current status in <i>Uncanny Avengers</i>, a degree of hero/villain melding seems to be a full-blown trend right now at Marvel, so this idea might not be quite as far-fetched as it may seem.
It worked for <i>House of M</i> and <i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i> maybe Scarlet Witch manages to reverse Ultron's reign of terror by uttering the words "no more robots"? <p>Of course, like in <i>House of M</i>, that could have some disastrous consequences: Maybe a complete dissolution of technology in the Marvel Universe, and all of a sudden it's more <i>1602</i> than 2013? That would certainly dramatically change the landscape of the Marvel Universe, and majorly bum out Tony Stark. (Too <i>Revolution</i>-y, maybe, but could still be an intriguing development.)
Or maybe the opposite happens. <p>Remember how during "World War Hulks," a bunch of Marvel heroes turned into Hulks? Perhaps during <b>Age of Ultron</b>, a bunch of marquee characters get turned into robots/cyborgs/what have you fitting in conceptually with the theme of singularity, it would seem and stay that way. (For a while.)
Yes, teenage Jean Grey is back in the pages of <i>All-New X-Men</i>, thanks to time travel but that likely isn't enough to satisfy the character's hardcore fans. <p>Marvel has shown remarkable restraint in keeping adult Jean Grey dead closing in on a decade now but that hasn't stopped fans from wondering when she'll come back. People thought it would be <i>AvX</i>, and well, it wasn't, but, hey, maybe this time around? <p>And maybe she's in <i>Ultron's body</i>? <p>(Maybe not.)
In talking about <b>Age of Ultron</b>, Bendis has described it as a major event in the Marvel Universe lots of devastation and lots of casualties and also compared it, in its self-contained nature, to <i>The Infinity Gauntlet</i>. <p>In that story, Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe. A big deal, yes, but of course things didn't stay that way, and it was undone by the end of the story. <p>At first, <b>Age of Ultron</b> seems like a similar case instinctively, it seems impossible that the Marvel Universe could stay a ruined, post-apocalypse wasteland forever, especially in the midst of the new and lapsed reader-targeted Marvel NOW! initiative. <p>But what if that's not the case? Even if Ultron is defeated, what if the effect of his destruction is felt for years to come, and those that are dead stay dead? <p>It doesn't seem possible or likely, no, but it would absolutely be unexpected, and thus fit in with Bendis's criteria of being surprising and hard to guess. <p>Or maybe Marvelman shows up in a Jean Grey costume. (Classic miniskirt and mask?)