Avengers: Rage of Ultron

by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, Pepe Larraz, Mark Morales
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: It’s geared toward adults, but I could see a teen who was interested in the Avengers being okay with reading this. It’s in the Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

I am running a Graphic Novel book group for teens (really, for whomever comes) this summer, and I wanted a Marvel Avengers one to start the group off (because of the movie). I did a lot of asking and digging to figure out if there was a stand-alone that those who aren’t into the universe (read: me) and who have only seen the movies (again: me) could understand. In the end, I settled on this one.

And on many levels I was right: it was a stand-alone (mostly; the ending was a bit ambiguous) and it gave me enough information to understand the story on its own terms, even if I didn’t know how it fit into the larger Marvel universe.

But: these are not your movie Avengers. And that was the biggest hurdle for me.

It’s a similar story to Age of Ultron: a robot was created by Hank Pym, and then when homicidal, deciding that humanity was worthless and needed to be exterminated. One of my favorite panels in this GN was the opening one: a “voice over” (what does one call it when it’s in book form?) of Ultron declaring humanity worthless while Captain America rushes around saving people from Ultron’s destruction. It’s intense and nicely done.

The Avengers beat Ultron, of course, and send him out into space. Then the story fast-forwards to sometime in the future, where Ultron has taken over the moon of Titan, enslaving the people there, and Starfox (Hubby had to explain about the Titans; good thing I have him around) comes back to a new group of Avengers, who are arguing about whether or not Artificial Intelligence counts as “life”. Some, like The Vision, argue that it is; that turning them “off” is tantamount to killing them. But AI like Ultron prove Pym’s point: they can’t be trusted. (I actually really liked the whole discussion of artificial intelligence and found it fascinating.) Ultron follows Starfox back and starts a big fight, one that eventually consumes all of the Avengers.

What I found most interesting were the underlying themes running through the GN: should AI be considered alive and be granted the same rights? To what point should the creator be responsible if the AI goes, well, crazy? I found it interesting that Pym called Ultron his “son” and felt, ultimately, responsible for Ultron’s actions, though I think he took it a bit too far.

The art was fantastic, with strong lines and bold colors. And there were some panels — the one I’ve mentioned at the beginning as well as one near the end of the book — that were simply amazing.

I don’t know if this is going to catapult me into reading other Avengers (or Marvel, aside from Ms. Marvel) GNs, but I really did enjoy reading this one.

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