Avengers Rage Of Ultron OGN Review
Hello everybody, let me start off by saying that this is my first official comic review for the site. My name is Niko and some of you might be listeners and or know me from the Death’s Door Prods official comic book podcast. If not then make sure to give it a listen, every couple of weeks we get together and have fun talking about the comics that we are currently reading and are enjoying (most of the time). The thing is though, to be honest, I read a LOT of comics. So much so that a lot of the graphic novels or series that I wait for the trade, I don’t actually get a chance to talk about on the regular show, so I hope to be able to talk about some of those books here in the form of reviews. Given the timeliness of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron coming to theaters this week, I felt what better book to review then Rick Remender’s newly released OGN entitled Rage Of Ultron. So without further ado lets get into what I hope to be the first of many reviews.
Rage Of Ultron is the newest release from Marvel as part of their ongoing line of original graphic novels that they have been releasing over the past year or so. The reason I bring this up is that some readers might not be familiar with this format, and if so basically an original graphic novel or OGN is pretty much a full completed story told in one book that is exclusive to that format, and is not released in monthly issues like most comics, which are then later collected and sold as a trade paperback. I’m a fan of this format and enjoy being able to read something that’s fully self contained and is able to stand on its own. That being said, the beauty of some of the OGNs that Marvel has released so far, this one included, is that while this completely stands on its own as a story, it also takes place during current Marvel continuity and ties into the events and overall story that writer Rick Remender started telling from all the way back when he worked on Uncanny X-Force, which has continued through his work on Secret Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and Axis. So if you’ve read all of those series like myself, it will definitely add to your overall enjoyment, but isn’t dependant on it.
Rage of Ultron opens up with a flashback of the Avengers facing off against the evil robot Ultron, who was created by scientist Hank Pym, or otherwise known as Yellowjacket at this point in time. Here you get introduced to Ultron as a character which you quickly learn has an utter disdain for the human race, as he’s easily taking out the Avengers one after another, Hank gets badly injured and is left clinging for life. Ultron then proceeds to deliver the final blow while Hank is laying there bleeding out, when they end up having a heart to heart moment, since he is his creator and as a result they have a father-son connection. While being distracted by this, Hawkeye is able to shoot a sticky goo arrow at Ultron, who ends up being knocked back and stuck to a ship, which is then shot into space freeing the earth of the robots wrath once more.
Flash forward to the current team of the Avengers, which contains a much different roster from where we had last left off, as the team squares off against the descendants led by Father, a group of highly advanced AI robots, who you may remember from Remender’s run on Secret Avengers. This sparks an ongoing conflict between Hank Pym and the Vision, where it explores the relationship between man and machine, and what is considered right and wrong when it comes to their current situation, and how to properly handle it. Ultron eventually returns to wreak havoc on the Earth once again, driven by his hate for the human race, while trying to wipe them out from existence, making robots the dominant species. Hank Pym has no choice but to confront his creation once more, in an effort to find peace in the decisions he’s made in the past that have continuously come back to haunt him.
Although Ultron is prominently featured in this, as he is the main antagonist, this is much more a Hank Pym story at the heart of it all. This is the best Hank Pym story I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and the best characterization of this character that I’ve come across. I can’t say I have read many stories featuring Hank Pym, but the ones that I have come across have always cast him in a dark and depressing light, and although he is still a very troubled character in this, I felt that the approach that Remender took in order to acknowledge his past mistakes, and to find a way to grow as a individual, while trying to find some happiness within himself in order to move on with his life was very refreshing. I enjoyed reading his inner struggle as a character, who is considered a hero, a very accomplished scientist, and founding member of the Avengers, but who is constantly being disrespected amongst his peers, to the point that even his decisions made throughout this story come into question. A quote from the book which is best suited to explain this, was when it was referenced that Tony Stark once used the line “imagine if self-doubt was a person” as best to describe Hank to a new Avenger.
The relationship between Hank Pym and Ultron, creator vs creation, throughout the story is very engaging, with Hank showing empathy towards the evil robot, given that he finds so much of himself embedded within him. Along with the Vision who was created by Ultron, solely for the purpose of destroying Hank, and his conflict between the two being that Ultron is his creator, and yet he helps the humans, despite being a robot himself. These are all very interesting tropes of man vs machine that we have seen before, yet are done very well, and act as a great showcase to introduce you to these characters if your planning on going to watch the movie, or just want to know more about these characters. They also do a great job of actually explaining why Ultron feels the way he does against the human race, instead of making him yet another one note, mustache twirling villain, who’s only motivated by his desire to be a bad guy. This all adds to the dynamic between these three characters and is what makes this book stand out from other Avengers stories.
I find that a lot of Rick’s writing is usually very driven by his character moments with inner monologues, which is very effective when done right, although at times I find that he uses this method too much, and even though it’s present in this story still, it is used scarcely compared to some of his past works and to great effect. You really get inside Hank Pym and Ultron’s head and are able to understand their individual perspectives on things as events unfold. I also realized how much I really miss Rick Remender writing Steve Rogers as Captain America. We get a few moments with him during a flashback at the start of the book, prior to him resuming his current mentor role as a now much older man in the Avengers. I never really did care for Captain America as a character, but I loved Rick’s run on the title prior to him handing the shield over to Falcon, which has still been enjoyable but not as great in my opinion. The voices for all of the characters involved I felt were pretty spot on as well, despite some of the newer characters like Sabertooth and Quicksilver for example, who joined the Uncanny Avengers as a result of Axis, were enjoyable and seemed to work well in this story. This was also one of the first times I’ve seen the new Female Thor (whose identity is still yet to be revealed) featured in a story and within a team setting outside of her main title, which was great to see her in action and interacting with everyone.
On top of all of the great things I’ve just mentioned and how much I enjoyed the story, I would be remiss not to mention the fantastic work by the art team of Jerome Opena and Pepe Larraz, with additional inks by Mark Morales, and colors by Dean White, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Dono Sanchez Almara. This was quite the extensive art team involved, with 2 artists, 3 colorists, and an additional inker. I sometimes feel this can effect the overall finished product as a result of having too many cooks in the kitchen so to speak, all with different contrasting styles, but I must say that this is simply not the case here. The whole book looked great and as a huge fan of Jerome Opena, who did the majority of the artwork, I feel he just keeps getting better and better. You may have seen his work more recently on Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, and longtime Remender fans may remember the great work he did on one of his his earlier creator owned books, and a personal favorite of mine, Fear Agent. For whatever reason and I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that he had additional inkers helping on this, I thought his art looked a little grittier and had more line work incorporated than usual, which worked well with this story and gave his art a slightly different look and style, yet still left looking great as usual. Joined by Dean White on colors, who has worked with Remender And Opena plenty of times in the past, this is an artistic tour de force, and is exactly what I’ve come to expect from this creative team. The luscious color makes the art pop off the page to great effect, as Jerome properly depicts all of the characters, throughout all of the vibrant eye catching action scenes, and emotional more tense sequences. If you have yet to experience or see anything that he has worked on, i definitely suggest taking a look through this because even if the story doesn’t grab you, the art is worth checking out alone.
So in conclusion I completely enjoyed this and thought it was great, from the overall story, to the characterizations, to the superb artwork. I would find it very difficult to find anything that I didn’t really like about it. This didn’t try to pull any unexpected punches, shock value moments, or complex plot lines that were left unfinished and left us wanting more. I enjoyed my experience reading this as it was a complete and satisfying Avengers story, in a climate where we have so many different Avengers books to choose from, this clearly stands above the rest, and holds its own for me as the definitive Hank Pym and Ultron tale of our time. Go do yourself a favor, pick up this book and support some great comics.
Avengers: Rage Of Ultron has utilized the OGN format in being able to provide the complete package of a well written self contained story with great art, and as a great introduction to these characters.