I will never complain about Hawkeye being the star of a Marvel crossover! I certainly wasn’t expecting Clint Barton to have a major role in an Ultron-themed event, but I’m not complaining. The book really focuses on the archer as he infiltrates a villain HQ in order to rescue his teammate Spider-Man.
First of all, this isn’t just a normal hero situation. There is a massive dome over New York City that seems to be run by Ultron. There are drone-versions of the villain soaring around seeking out fallen heroes. The streets are in ruins, there are almost no civilians visible, and the villains seem pretty confident they can buy Ultron’s indulgence by selling him Avengers. So yeah, things are downright apocalyptic. I’m not sure if this is just the situation in the city or if the entire world has been taken over. From a narrative standpoint, it probably makes more sense to have Ultron totally triumphant. We shall see.
That would explain why Hawkeye is this desperate. Bendis has always written Hawkeye as ready to kill, but he’s downright bloodthirsty in this. Hawk regularly punctures heads and necks as he kills his way to the Owl and Hammerhead. The only way I can justify that is if it really is do-or-die time, and that Hawkeye has very little left to lose. I can’t be sure, but it sure looks like Spider-Man is the Peter Parker version, not Dock Ock. I’m fine with that; if this story is going to hold up as an evergreen trade for Marvel, it needs to feature the default Spider-Man. (I just wish it had Hawkeye in his real suit!)
Things are so dire for our heroes that Hawkeye and Spider-Man have a hard time gaining access to the heroes’ secret base in Central Park. I spotted Luke Cage, She-Hulk, Iron Man, Emma Frost, the Thing, Wolverine, Beast, Invisible Woman, and Captain America amongst the living. Not all of those guys seem like they are still in the fight though. Only about half of them seem to have the physical and mental fortitude to keep fighting. (I won’t spoil who is still standing tall.)
There is no sign of the characters I most closely associate with Ultron (and no Ultron himself, either). Hank Pym, Wasp, and Vision are all absent. I’m curious to see how Bendis uses them after recently bringing back the Wasp. I do have one prediction; the solicits say Wolverine and Invisible Woman are going back in time to change the past. Wolvie is going back to kill Hank Pym before he creates Ultron. Set your watch on it! There is a reason Pym is absent from all the Marvel Now titles. And I’ve never seen Bendis have too much affection for the character.
Bryan Hitch returns to Marvel with his widescreen style. The rubble is detailed, the action is expansive. Even though I don’t like Hawkeye killing, Hitch makes it look great. I also hate the costume, but again, Hitch designed it, so I’m not surprised to see it. I’d love to see this tougher She-Hulk get a lot of panel time; Hitch has really roughed her up.