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  • Age Of Ultron

    A few weeks back, CBR's regular AXEL-IN-CHARGE column welcomed Marvel Comics VP of Sales David Gabriel to the discussion for some frank sales talk and – in the call's final moments – a tease of when exactly the promised "Age of Ultron" event would arrive in stores. Announced over a year ago, the Avengers story by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Bryan Hitch was meant to be both a reinvention for the classic robot villain and a capper on Bendis' years writing Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Yet as the writer prepared to wrap his run this month on the Avengers monthlies, still no word was available on when "Age of Ultron" would hit, and Gabriel played coy with specific dates.

    Well, today the wait is over. In their latest "Next Big Thing" conference call, Marvel and Bendis sent word that the book has finally been scheduled for release and talked up the story with reporters.

    Bendis was joined by SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort and Sales and Communications Director Arune Singh who explained that "Age of Ultron" will be ten issues, and all of them will ship from March to June with artists Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco joining the team midway through the series for reasons Singh promised was story driven.

    Bendis explained that the story is about Ultron fulfilling his plan to take over all the earth and "from page one" the villain will have control over the whole world. "Though this book started in 'Avengers'...it was always meant to be a Marvel Universe book. It stars everyone, not just the Avengers." He said that the goal from the beginning was to not solicit the book until the notoriously time-consuming Hitch art was all in the can, allowing them to tell the story all in one fell swoop and on an accelerated schedule.

    "Out last pages are so shocking that there are literally only six people in the whole world who know what they are," Bendis added, saying that they were keeping the twist ending a secret from even some of the artists drawing the story. "After Bryan Hitch comes in, something happens in the story," the writer added noting that the change would necessitate Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco.

    Brevoort added that Hitch's issues – which are the first five in the story – are all in the can and have been done for a while. All five will ship through March and April before the artist switch takes place. "Even when Hitchy has shown that he can produce on a regular basis, people had some skepticism," he said about the market's response to the artist's work. Brevoort promised more preview pages from his issues will roll out in the days ahead.

    Bendis spoke to the difference between this event and others like "Siege" or "Secret Invasion," saying that the team who launched this was a bit smaller. "We talked about if I were ever to do something like this again, what would I do differently and what would I do better?" he said, saying that the accelerated shipping schedule was part of the answer but so was containing tie-ins to a more manageable amount of books for readers. "That's something I felt a lot of passion for as well...it'll be much like 'House of M' where there will be tie-ins, but it won't be a budget buster." He said that the tie-ins will be of the variety where fans can buy what they want or only focus on the main story.

    "It reminds me of 'Infinity Gauntlet' in that these events are so outrageous," Bendis said, talking up his artists again. Brevoort said, "This story opens where other stories tend to end." From the beginning of the story, the event will focus on a ravaged Marvel U already under the thumb of Ultron. He added that the book is happening today in the Marvel NOW! universe and in continuity. "This is NOW with at least three exclamation points," Bendis joked.

    The writer said the place for fans to prep for the story is the "Avengers" 12.1 issue that came out last Free Comic Book Day where Tony Stark warned that Ultron comes back smarter each time he's reborn.

    When asked about tie-ins by the press, Brevoort said that most tie-ins will be in one issue, and they will spread over no more than six or seven series. "Fantastic Four" and "Superior Spider-Man" issues in May will tie in, for example, and their numbers will be modified to slide in between regular issue much like Marvel's "Point One" comics. Instead, they'll be called "Fantastic Four" #6.AU. The editor promised no more than ten tie-in comics overall.

    The Marvel staff said that this was the big event for 2013, but they were trying to make it different as a publishing event from previous stories like "AvX" to aide fans who want the stories but who are warry of the buy-in. "People do like them and get excited about them, and they say 'But could you do this?' or 'Could you do that?'" the writer explained.

    Bendis said he went back to the original conception of Ultron as a villain to build what this story would be. "He's got severe daddy issues, even for a Marvel character," Bendis said. "His logic is that it's his time to take the earth and the only thing standing in his way is the humans." The writer compared that mindset to Magneto in that the idea of Artificial Intelligence replacing humans can makes sense on paper or be argued for, but of course, humans want to live. "This is the Marvel Singularity," he said comparing Ultron's ascent to a piece of technology that changes the world forever.

    As far as the heroes of the story, the writer said, "We're hesitant to say who survives" when asked about Hank Pym and the Wasp. "But you can count on the Vision being a pretty big part of this story."

    He also said that this story would not carry over plot threads from his "Avengers" era. He plans on wrapping everything with his final issues this week, and he is now "a full on X-Men writer." While "Age of Ultron" spins out of Avengers in a general sense, it includes heroes like Moon Knight, Spider-Man and Hawkeye. Asked if things in the story had to change as the book was delayed until now (or NOW! as the case may be), Bendis said that since he and Brevoort were always in the story meetings for the Marvel U "It's been pretty smooth sailing on our part." Brevoort compared the book to "Children's Crusade" – the long-gestating Young Avengers story – in that some background details might be a little off, but overall the thrust of the story will be placed in the here and now. "That's going to be the exception and not the rule."

    The writer explained that the series has a few "point of view" characters that the reader can identify with as the tale takes place in multiple locations through the Marvel U. "What I'm most excited about is that our ending is such a whopper that you can not guess this ending," he added, laughing. "I'm telling you, I'm involved in this, and every couple of days, I go 'Realy?!?!'" Brevoort agreed, saying, "It would take a VERY lucky guess" adding jokingly that the staff was using pass codes to keep the secret on lockdown.

    As the question went around the call as to who could guess the ending, reporters best guesses included the introduction of Marvelman and this reporter being given a million dollars (worth a shot).

    Asked about characters who would make it through to be a part of the resistance, Bendis said, "Moon Knight is one of the people to make it through, and he's as shocked as anyone to find that out." Other characters who will help make up the resistance include Spider-Man, thought the writer said that the Ultron casing from he and Alex Maleev's "Moon Knight" series will play in to this series for those who followed that book.

    Offering final thoughts, Brevoort said that the most exciting thing about this event is the rapid pace the books will come out at. "At this point, doing an event that's eight months long starts to feel slow," he said. "That combined with the fact that Htich really went to town and knocked himself out...it's a magnificent piece of work."

    Bendis summed it up saying, "Literally not a day has gone by over the past year and a half without people asking me on Twitter where this was...I know that people are looking forward to this, so to finally debut it, and for it to be – I imagine – better than people thought it would be is great...it takes one of Marvel's classic villains to a level we've never seen him before, and it pushed our Marvel heroes to a place they've never been before."
    When Marvel Comics announced yesterday that its long-gestating "Age of Ultron" event series would finally see its release this March, Executive Editor and SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort promised that the company would soon release more art from Bryan Hitch. Though the best-selling penciler has seen delays in comics past, Brevoort promised that the artist's five issues of the accelerated shipping event were all in the can, and to back that claim up, Marvel today shared exclusive cover art and interior pages from March's "Age of Ultron" #2 with CBR.

    Discussing the story in a conference call, writer Brian Michael Bendis said of the villain whose victory over the superheroes begins the story, "He's got severe daddy issues, even for a Marvel character [and] his logic is that it's his time to take the earth and the only thing standing in his way is the humans."

    Of course, there will be resistance against Ultron's conquering of earth, and while the writer kept mum on many of the heroes who would play a role in the book, one person he was able to talk about was the split personality vigilante who also features heavily in these pages. "Moon Knight is one of the people to make it through, and he's as shocked as anyone to find that out," he said, adding that the Ultron casing from his and Alex Maleev's "Moon Knight" series will play into this storyline.




    Age Of Ultron #4 Pages by Bryan Hitch


  • #2
    Figured we might as well move the discussion to a new thread since it's bound to get made eventually. Hitch's pages do look good though it is a bit jarring to see some of the older costumes here and there...also wonder which Spider-Man this is suppose to be.

    For those of you who didn't know the pages from the first article appeared lettered in Marvel Point One #1.

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    • #3
      That's surprising. You would think this thread would have been Iggy's doing.

      In the big spread of polaroids, it was amusing to see Deadpool twice.

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      • #4
        Interesting story idea, though with Bendis writing, it'll be light on action and heavy on monologue and dialogue.
        The last fan of 1990s comics
        Read my Green Lantern blog The Indigo Tribe

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Spider-Lantern View Post
          In the big spread of polaroids, it was amusing to see Deadpool twice.
          If it's a memorial wall, it might make sense, Deadpool is amusingly difficult to kill.
          But that's not supported, seeing as Hawkeye's on there and he seems to be front and centre of a lot of the teasers we've seen so far.
          Minimum space distance:
          a|<- ≥2mm ->|lot
          ----------------------------------------------------------

          Stormageddon added by Kuhan

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          • #6
            Villain Draft 3: Fourth Place Winner

            September 11, 2001; January 6, 2021; February 13, 2021

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hypo View Post
              Originally posted by Spider-Lantern View Post
              In the big spread of polaroids, it was amusing to see Deadpool twice.
              Originally posted by chivalrous View Post
              If it's a memorial wall, it might make sense, Deadpool is amusingly difficult to kill..
              Looks like Nick Fury's Skrull wall to me:

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              • #8
                The Origins of the Age of Ultron

                A sorta kinda catch up for folks like me.

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                • #9
                  Superior Spider-Man #6AU
                  Christos Gage (W), Dexter Soy (A)
                  Cover by Marco Checchetto
                  • The Superior Spider-Man enters the Age of Ultron!
                  32 PGS/Rated T... $3.99
                  Age Of Ultron #5 Pages by Bryan Hitch




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                  • #10
                    Fantastic Four #5AU Cover

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                    • #11
                      CBR News: Let's start with the most recent bit of new surrounding your work: "Age of Ultron." I think for a while, people assumed the long wait for this story involved your work on the title even though you've been saying you were done with those pages quite some time ago. What's it been like to have the full scope of the event out in the open and on the publishing slate?

                      Bryan Hitch: I'm quite removed from the pages by some considerable time, but it's great they are finally seeing the light of day. Even though [my inker] Paul Neary and I live very close to each other, I really hadn't seen more than a handful of them inked so it's nice to see them actually finished too! I tend towards seeing only the problems with what I draw at the time I've completed stuff, but here it's been over a year since I saw some of those pages, in some cases a year and a half, and it's nice to look at them with fresh eyes. Surprisingly, they don't suck!

                      Yes, I'm well aware there's an assumption that if a book I work on is delayed or late for any reason, it's down to me. Here it's been shoved back a few times, firstly due to the project's growth in size and length (It was originally a one-shot that became 12.1 and expanded constantly), and then it was decided to hold it so we could publish it weekly. That was set for March 2012 and also why I wanted "America's Got Powers" to ship the same time. Then it was held when they came up with "AvX" and all the associated stuff there. Then Marvel NOW! So a whole year later, it's finally seeing the light! I finished my end of it in 2011, though Neary has been inking it this year.
                      Real world considerations aside, what was it about the story of "Age of Ultron" that convinced you to make it your Marvel swan song? Though it is a big epic in the style fans have come to associate you with, I get the feeling this has some very different building blocks from something like "The Ultimates."

                      Yes, "Ultron" was very different from "Ultimates" in may respects both in the nature of my collaboration with Bendis as opposed to Mark [Millar] and in the whole feel of the project. Two ends of a long rope really.

                      It wasn't intended to be my "swan song" either, really. My then current contract expired at the end of 2011 and whilst drawing "Ultron," I'd also been writing a six-part "Ultimate Captain America" series I'd started drawing. It was fully written, and I was drawing the first issue in the gaps between Ultron scripts coming in. "Ultron" sort of kept expanding, and I was never wholly sure of what the full scope was as I was never involved in any planning or plotting for it. We knew I had time for about five issues before my deal expired, and I was happy to extend a short while to complete the series if it ran to six or maybe seven issues, as seemed possible. It was politely indicated to me that it wouldn't be necessary and thank you for the work, and so, as planned, off I went to the heady world of creator owned and "AGP."

                      In fact, I only found out it had become a ten-issue series when I saw the recent announcements.

                      Despite Marvel coming to me and asking for the Cap series, rather than my pitching it to them, it was constantly being sidelined and eventually dropped to my disappointment. Since "Ultimates" ended, I'd been less and less involved in a collaborative process at Marvel. They now had their various brains-trusts, architects or whatever the gang was calling themselves, and that was what led their creative process. It seemed a very closed shop and not what it was like when I signed up to do "Ultimates" at all. I felt like they wanted an illustrator not a creator, and that was very frustrating to me. I'd submitted several proposals for various series, getting nowhere; Cap was dropped, and I didn't even feel involved in the story I was working on. It really felt like I wasn't contributing the way I wanted to be.

                      Obviously the work I did there over more than ten years is a true high point in my career and, in looking at the Marvel movies, clearly influential, but I guess there's a time when you feel like you don't know anybody at the party anymore or nobody's laughing at your jokes and it's time to call a cab. Possibly, had I known the Ultron series was longer than the five issues I'd originally thought and if I hadn't had the Cap book pulled from under me, I may never have considered moving on, but stuff changes I guess.

                      I don't want any of this to sound anything other than light, frothy and pleasant though. There's no regret or bitterness, far from it. There's always things one could have done differently or better but I had an amazing time and got play with a lot of company toys, and it made my career in the best way possible. Now in going forward I feel like I have some incredible opportunities I might otherwise not have had.

                      In general, what was the collaboration like between you and Brian Bendis? Both of you have quite distinctive storytelling styles. What did he deliver up in scripts that matched your strengths, and were there any ways in which his writing changed things up in your approach?

                      It wasn't really a collaboration between myself and Bendis; not in the way it had been with Warren on "Authority" and especially Mark on "Ultimates." I didn't really have any involvement in creating the story or developing the concept for it. As I said, I'd actually no idea how long the series was and it's possible nobody else did either as despite asking, I couldn't get any information about any of it. Essentially, I was "just" the illustrator for the series. On books like "Authority," "AGP" and especially "Ultimates," it went far, far beyond that and all are genuine co-creations and collaborations; here I was drawing the pictures as best I could without any real information about what was happening overall. In some cases that wasn't a problem, but in looking at it overall, I feel I could have done better had I more information rather than some of the groping in the dark I felt I was doing. Worked out okay though, I think.

                      Stylistically, if we're comparing Mark's writing on "Ultimates" with Bendy's on "Ultron," both have very different leanings on the two very different projects. Mark likes, where possible, to show rather than tell whereas on "Ultron," Bendy was choosing a more dialogue-structured narrative, at least on the issues I drew. That can be a little trickier for an artist. If you have twelve speaking characters in the same location for 30 or 40 pages, then obviously no writer is going to consider the physical location of each one in how he or she writes the dialogue. So just figuring out where to put each one so they can speak in the right order is tricky enough for a four or five-page scene, but something of this length, “a one-act play” as Little Tommy Brevoort called it, 30-40 pages over several issues was very hard.

                      I did expand upon the visuals here and there to give it a scope beyond that where I could. I think it holds together pretty well and I suppose, if I changed approach it's only the same natural change that happens with any different writer or story.

                      Character-wise, Ultron remains one of the Marvel U's more imposing foes thanks in large part to a killer design by John Buscema. You're updating his look a bit here. What was your guiding principal for how the villain would look in the story?

                      You'd have to ask Bendy about that as I really was somewhat short on overall information, but in looking at Ultron, although a new look was asked for I wanted to keep it as close to the original as possible. It's a classic so why change it? Besides, I knew I was going to have to draw many, many Ultron's in the pages so keeping it as simple as possible was the key.

                      On the hero side of things, Brian has been playing things close to the vest, but we know characters like Hawkeye and Moon Knight of all people will be playing a central role in your issues. Anyone stand out to you as being an unexpected joy to draw? In what way?

                      I was encouraged to have costumes torn, changed, beaten, broken, etc from the get-go, and then I wasn't sure if it was an alternate reality, timeline or whole other dimension. When Hawkeye showed up, I just went with a slight variation on my Ultimate look as the weird purple one just felt like it wouldn't fit with the tone. Then, Marvel internally decided to go with that as his new look officially, probably due to the movie, I'd guess, so that was fun. So to answer your question more fully, I never really felt like I got to draw the full superhero-fest The Avengers could be as it was post-event, broken down looks. There was a short scene with Spidey in the second issue I LOVED but then, my one regret at Marvel is that I didn't get to do a good run on Spidey. It was discussed a few times, with Joey Q turning down a Spidey book from me and Joss Whedon. I know, right?

                      Okay, I have to ask about the miniature ROM cameo in the bulletin board pages shown on CBR previously. Is that just a fan Easter Egg you threw in, or is it part of a larger plan?

                      That scene was one Brian asked me to replicate from something he'd used before and that he'd (then) most recently done in "Moon Knight." It was, I think, supposed to be the same location at a different time. So I just took what was already there and expanded it a little from a list BB had given me and tried to include all the names he's listed. Mistake? Easter Egg? Larger purpose? Don't know at all. I do know I never drew ROM again and likely never will....

                      I did love that, more than anything else shown, that one little shot of ROM drove fandom into a collective hysteria!

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                      • #12
                        Age of Ultron #4 & 5 Variant Covers by Adi Granov











                        Age of Ultron #1 Pages by Bryan Hitch



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                        • #13

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                          • #14
                            And soon, the endless talking starts!
                            The last fan of 1990s comics
                            Read my Green Lantern blog The Indigo Tribe

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                            • #15
                              Less than two months till he reigns supreme!!!!

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