Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Age Of Ultron Vs. Marvel Zombies #2 - Marvel Comics

It is entirely plausible that James Robinson didn’t read the “Marvel Worldwide” pre-publication advertisement for this “Secret Wars” tie-in mini-series, as the plot to Issue Two of “Age Of Ultron Vs. Marvel Zombies” disconcertingly differs quite substantially from the claim that “in the southern wastes of Battleworld, two unholy factions wage never-ending war” with one another. Indeed the Eisner-award winner’s narrative actually goes so far as to depict “the genocidal robotic armies of Ultron” agreeing a peaceful alliance with the “rotting, flesh-eating corpses that lies just to the East” and even ends with a splash page of the adamantium armoured automaton shaking hands with a zombified Magneto; “In that case, I think I speak for all of us when I say… You have a deal.”

Such a stupefying cessation of the “unending war” inevitably means that the vast majority of this twenty-page periodical instead focuses upon Hank Pym’s arrival at the nirvana Salvation, and an incredibly lengthy exposition by Wonderman, Jim Hammond and the Vision as to how they built the settlement using the “ionic energy that we extract from Simon Williams and then synthesize”. The Manchester-born writer even finds the time to rather clumsily script a rather uncomfortable scene which unsubtly portrays the prejudiced attitude of America’s Old West by having the Human Torch’s oriental partner Ryoko challenge Ultron's three-piece suited inventor when he refers to her a Celestial…

So tedious a storyline doubtless distressed many of this comic’s 40,483 readers, especially when the first dozen or so promising panels of “Strange Bedfellows” depicts a puritan Punisher dancing “a merry jig” against a horde of “flesh-eating, super-powered living dead” whilst lopping off their heads and limbs indiscriminately. This marvellous sequence, full of bloody carnage, biblical rhetoric, and plenty of swordplay is as adventurously action-packed as any “Marvel Zombies” devotee could wish for, and it truly comes as an almighty blow that the black-garbed Protestant swashbuckler is sizzlingly silenced mid-sentence by “Ultron Unit 432.622A, designated communicator conduit for Lord Ultron.”

This comic’s artwork is also somewhat agitating in its composition. For whilst “critically-acclaimed artist Steve Pugh” competently draws the bulk of its content, Tom Grummett, Drew Hennessy and Jesus Aburtov provide all of the artificially-aged flashback illustrations, and arguably demonstrate just how lifeless and rather monotone the British penciller’s work appears when coloured using modern-day techniques.
The variant cover art of "AGE OF ULTRON VS. MARVEL ZOMBIES" No. 2 by Alex Maleev

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