Arriving just in time for the new “Avengers” movie is Marvel’s latest original graphic novel. Its title isn’t just a pun on the movie’s, it’s a key part of the book’s plot as it deals with the tortured familial relationship between Hank Pym and his creation, Ultron, with some angst from Vision thrown in as well. The plot itself is pretty standard issue, as it opens with the Avengers taking on the title character an unspecified amount of years ago and shooting him into space. After that iteration of the android winds up on Titan and terraforms it into Planet Ultron, he comes back looking to settle the score with his dear old dad. This is the least successful part of the book as the threat of Ultron to all life in the universe is pitched really high and not given enough space to be fully developed. It’s hard to be concerned about the fate of everything when it’s mostly a background detail in the story.
Then again, the focus of writer Rick Remender’s narrative isn’t on that galactic threat. It’s about Pym coming to terms with what has become his most enduring creation as well as the doubt that has plagued his character for years. That narrow scope serves the tale well, as do the sparks that fly when he buts heads with Vision over how A.I.s should be treated. It’s a solid action-packed adventure that plays to the better side of the writer’s tics and features a genuine status-quo shift for the characters of Pym and Ultron. Granted, said twist does make the story feel like little more than a prelude for the one which will be spun out of it.
“Rage of Ultron” also looks great, thanks to the work of Jerome Opena, an artist who knows how to make an action scene look compelling on the page, and produce some imaginative visuals. The scenes of Planet Ultron unveiled are real showstoppers. The funny thing is that even though this is an OGN that has been in the works since last year, it also features fill-in art from Pepe Larraz at certain points. Larraz does a decent enough job of maintaining stylistic consistency with Opena, but I’m left wondering what went wrong in the production of this graphic novel to warrant his involvement. That issue aside, this is one of the better Marvel OGNs and the most stand-alone, new-reader-friendly “Avengers” story out there if you’re looking to read one after seeing the movie.