The first issue of Age of Ultron was surprisingly good, considering how mediocre most of Brian Michael Bendis written events are. It set up the story very well, and without a line of direct exposition. This issue is equally good.
So far, Age of Ultron feels like an alternate universe story where Ultron has taken over the world. The Ultron robots roam the streets, executing humans simply because they won’t submit. They even destroy buildings simply because they believe that superheroes are inside, even if the regular inhabitants are paying the Ultron army. What is left of Earth’s Superheroes are hiding and struggling to come up with a plan.
This issue focuses mostly on Black Widow and Moon Knight as they evade Ultron robots in San Francisco. These scenes further establish how far the world has fallen, while they also discuss plans on how to destroy Ultron. It also picks up on the larger group from the first issue and continues their story. There’s also a quick flashback through Spider-Man’s memories that hints at the early days of Ultron’s takeover.
This is easily the worst post-apocalyptic universe I’ve seen anywhere. Bodies are rotting on the streets in piles, and the robotic overlords have no interest whatsoever in any kind of cleanup. This is emphasized perfectly from the artwork, from the rubble-filled streets to the scars that some of the heroes have on their bodies. The superheroes are recognizable, but their costumes and hairstyles have drastically changed as a result of the world they live in.
If there is anything bad to say, it’s that both of the first two issues can be seen as introductory issues. Sure, this one establishes that more than just New York has been destroyed, and it does further the story a little. This series needs to start moving on soon or else it will be another Secret Invasion (an 8 issue-long event that could have easily been told in 3 or 4 issues). That’s not a complaint for today’s issue, but it is a concern.
If a post-apocalyptic Avengers story interests you then this issue is an easy recommendation. While only time will tell if Bendis can pull the whole event off, it’s off to a great start.