***This article contains spoilers for Age of Ultron #4, on sale now.***Age of Ultron #3 left readers with the shocker that long-time Avenger The Vision appeared to be working hand-in-hand with Ultron, making bizarre deals in the midst of the devastated ruins of the Marvel Universe.
This week's Age of Ultron #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch picks up right from there, with She-Hulk and Luke Cage on an ill-fated mission involving Vision, one with a significant price for them both. The action also travels to The Savage Land, as the three fronts seen in the first three issues — the heroes left in New York, San Francisco and Chicago — begin to come together.
That leads to one major decision on the part of Red Hulk, Black Widow and Moon Knight, namely, wiping "even the idea of Ultron out of existence." We talked to Age of Ultron series editor and Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort about the latest chapter of the rapidly unfolding story.Newsarama: Tom, more than any issue of Age of Ultron so far, #4 really illustrates the desperate situation the characters find themselves in, from She-Hulk's actions, to what goes down between Red Hulk and Taskmaster, to the decision made at the end of the issue. As editor of the series, how important is that element in communicating the stakes to the reader? And as someone that's been working on these characters for many years, how unique is Age of Ultron in terms of truly putting the Marvel heroes backs' against the wall in an in-continuity story?
Tom Brevoort: Well, obviously, you never want to make things easy on your heroes. That’s how you illustrate what they’re really made of, by testing them and putting them under extreme pressure to see what will happen. In that regard, Age of Ultron is an extreme example, in that we’ve virtually scoured human civilization from the face of the Earth.
But the whole point, particularly of this portion of the story, is in seeing these heroes coping with what is to all intents and purposes the end of the world, and what this brings out in them. We’re used to seeing them somewhat facilely facing Earth-shattering crises on a monthly basis — this is all about what happens when a crisis hits before anybody can even react to it, so our heroes need to cope with the aftermath in a manner they aren’t typically called upon to do. It’s pretty bleak stuff. And certainly, it leads the characters to do things they might not do under ordinary conditions—which is what’s interesting about the story.Nrama: The fourth issue takes the story to its fourth geographical location (and the first one outside of the United States), The Savage Land. Though Ka-Zar has something of a sanctuary set up, it's established that beyond that it's also taken damage. So is that final confirmation that there's pretty much nowhere to turn and that things are indeed bad everywhere — not just in the states?
Brevoort: It’s not the final confirmation — we see some other areas of the world both in the tie-ins and in subsequent issues of the main book. But it does indicate the overall scale of what’s been going on. Not absolutely everything has been obliterated at this point, but an awful lot of it has. We do see Detroit in Age of Ultron #5, and at this point not a whole lot has happened to it, though that’s about to change.
Nrama: Though he hasn't been seen on panel at this point, there is certainly a lot of talk of the original issue Nick Fury in Age of Ultron. Given that the new Nick Fury is currently being established at Marvel, was there any concern in that it might be something of a mixed message in giving the original a central part here? Or is he just such an integral part of the Marvel Universe that there's no getting around it with a story like this?Brevoort: We’ve been saying all along that there’s room in the Marvel Universe for more than one Nick Fury, in the same way that we’ve had multiple Captain Americas or Iron Mans or Thors over the years — it’s really not that big a problem. So we’ve continued to use older Nick all through this period when we’ve also been building up young Nick — in particular, old Nick has been a big part of what’s been going on in Winter Soldier. I feel like this is something that the readers are more concerned about than we are, the fact that there are now two guys with similar names. Of course, on the other hand, maybe Age of Ultron will be the story in which we kill older Nick Fury off completely — you never know!
Nrama: Last week brought the announcement of Avengers A.I., which spins right out of the Age of Ultron. Though the how and the why isn't yet exactly known, the concept of the series does reveal something about the end of AoU — and confirm that both Hank Pym and Vision appear to make it out alive and well. Between this and the Angela news, readers might get the impression that they already know too much about the end of Age of Ultron — from your end, is that an issue at all?Brevoort: It’s certainly an issue in that, if I had my way, readers wouldn’t know anything about any of this stuff until they picked up the book and read it. But with the way we solicit our books and have for the past few decades, coupled with the fact that there are whole websites whose stock-in-trade is spoiling the stories that you’re about to read months in advance, those days are pretty much over.
But that said, if all we had in our hand was the appearance of a character from another line of books and the potential demise of two specific Avengers, we wouldn’t have much of a story. So there’s still plenty to be revealed, and plenty of payoff left in Age of Ultron #10 — just not as absolutely much as there might have been if the audience didn’t know about Hank, Vision and Angela beforehand. But that’s the way the game is played nowadays.Nrama: Lastly — anything you want to tease for issue #5?
Brevoort: We’re building right up to the point where a number of characters make a momentous decision that sends the story off in a completely different direction — one that also plays in perfectly with the fact that we’ll be shifting to artwork by Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco in issue #6. So #5 is the last we’ll see of the sweeping, epic visual stylings of Bryan Hitch, and he goes out on a high note! Plus, as I mentioned earlier, Detroit! And Nick Fury’s final mad plan!More from Newsarama:
- 10 Best Candidates for MARVEL NOW! Wave 2
- AGE OF ULTRON #3 Debrief: Angela and that Last-Page Twist
- AGE OF ULTRON #2 Debrief: Things Are Bad All Over