Thursday, May 28, 2015

Age of Ultron, Part II: Marvel Avengers Age of Ultron Prelude by Will Pilgrim; Also, Marvel Avengers Battle Against Ultron by Matt Forbeck

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Marvel has come out with a very popular line of books--new Marvel movies are presaged by "Prelude" books. With all the excitement over the summer block-buster, Age of Ultron, Marvel, it seems, also intended to cash in on a glossy new "Prelude" book for the Age of Ultron, as well. 

     So, here we have it. Marvel Author Will Pilgrim, has collected under this one title, Marvel's Avengers 1 and 2; Avengers: Cinematic Infinite Comic 1; Avengers (1963) Nos. 57 and 58; Avengers (1998) 22; and Avengers 12.1.

     Unless you are a comic book fan, you probably don't know what the numbers mean. So, the question becomes, what do these titles include in them to act as a prelude to Marvel's summer movie hit, Age of Ultron? Let's take a look at a brief synopsis and I will tell you what I think about this new title.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:  As I indicated, just above, this book is a prelude--a way to prepare for the Age of Ultron movie. The Marvel Cinematic Universe sets the book's stories between the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron! Publishers indicate that this new story will fill in for fans, what has happened between the two films, who the Avengers have battled, and what threats they have dealt with. 

This is a scene from the movie, Avengers. [2]
     The book opens with two comic book titles focusing on the first Avengers' movie--the Avenger's come together to find Loki, and then to do battle the Chitauri in downtown New York City. Next, Marvel takes us back to a classic 1957 story with the birth of "Vision." (#57) Another story of "Vision" takes up another classic title from 1958, "Even An Android Can Cry." 

     Two titles from 1998 follow with Avengers 21 & 22 where the Avengers battle Ultron, trying a multitude of different approaches without much luck. The final story is the same title, Avengers 12.1, title that I reviewed earlier this month. To see that review, click here. In the final story, the 12.1 issue, the very end of the book, the last page, focuses on Iron Man who says that he has has "seen the future" and Ultron will bring the apocalypse--and "there's nothing we can do to stop it." This statement, of course, paving the way for high anticipation for the (then) upcoming movie, Age of Ultron.

An ultra close up
of the stitches
holding the
pages together.
This keeps the
book from fall-
ing apart. [3]
     First, what I liked the most about this book: Without a doubt the strongest selling point is the professional appearance the publishers have given the book. The cover is a cardstock with a glossy finish. Moreover, the book does not fall apart as I have seen other graphic novels do; the book is sewn together and then glue applied to the inside of the spine. The effect is to create a sturdy book that looks attractive and holds together without falling apart. Without this strong point in its favor the book would be worthless. I have had several, otherwise wonderful, books fall apart and pages come out that were rendered worthless.

This is the very last page of the book,
Avengers Age of Ultron Prelude by Jack
Penn and Joss Whedon. [3]
     The final chapter in Prelude  is issue Avengers 12.1, and in the Age of Ultron by Will Pilgrim, (Also Avengers 12.1) the story is the very first in that collected book. [See my book review of the Age of Ultron by Will Pilgrim, by clicking here.] My point in bringing this up is the plot line. The Prelude book rightly ends on the note that Ultron will be coming back, whereas Pilgrim's book starts when Ultron has returned and the coming apocalypse must needs be dealt with. So, they have the chronology right--that's another point in their favor.

     If you would like to read a little bit about what makes a good graphic novel, and would like to see some examples of those I've liked and those I don't, please check out the following reviews (positive + and negative -):

  -   Thor: The Dark World Prelude by Marvel Comics (10-29-13);
  +  Vampire Academy, A Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead (01-10-14);
  +  Captain America: The Winter Soldier HC by Brubaker and Epting (03-14-14); 
  -  All You Need Is Kill (Edge of Tomorrow) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (05-25-14);
  -   Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore (06-29-14);  
  +  Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (07-17-14);
  +  Graphic Novels: The Dresden Files: War Cry by Jim Butcher (10-15-14);
  +  Wool the Graphic Novel Omnibus by Hugh Howey (12-31-14); and
  -  Age of Ultron/Age of Ultron Companion by Will Pilgrim (05-11-15).

Whether you call it intro, climax and resolution, or
beginning, middle, and end, the story arc has these
primary elements. [4]
     One of the things that marks a graphic novel is that the book or story has a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. In other words, it has a complete story arc, just as any literary novel would have. Here, while the Avengers have their genesis in the comic books, the comic book characters have had their action turned into a whole story, with a beginning, middle and end. Screenwriters have created a palatable story that would work visually and be as satisfying as a literary work. Comic books are episodic in nature; you know, they come in installments with a short, exciting bit of action created in pictures. A graphic novel--a novel or story using a format with graphic images--is one single story, not episodes; importantly, moreover, the story has that story arc I just mentioned.

Here's an example of the
eminently readable text with the
words bolded  to aid reading and
to highlight their importance. [3]
     Another point in the plus column is how the dialogue and art were covered. The art, beautifully done by Illustrators Joe Bennett, Marcio Loerzer Bennett, Jay David Ramos, and Augustin Padilla, is both dynamic and expressive and the use of color, vibrant. The dialogue and information boxes within the frames of the graphics are clear, concise, and readable. Some of the dialogue is placed with the text bolded to help important words stand out.

   OK. Let's cut right to the chase. I'll give you the major problem I had with the book, one that really didn't work for me. The book as a whole was disappointing due to the quantity of filler versus "prelude" material. The bulk of the material is what I would call, "filler." For example, the first two stories are merely the Avengers (1) movie turned into a comic; I felt bored reading it because it felt like I was watching the movie through still frames. Talk about dullsville.

     Much of the materials used were merely reprints from years ago, accumulated, it can be surmised, to make money for Marvel. Marvel could sell its "Prelude" books for $13.59 for a book that would need very little work to put it together. No costs would be incurred by Marvel in having authors, illustrators and colorists working on new material.


I felt like a sucker...being taken for a ride. The problem was that it wasn't even entertaining.

     The beautiful cover and binding, the readable text, and the wonderful work done by the Illustrators and colorists could not save this book. Marvel calls the book "Prelude," when it should have been called "After Thought."

     This little book is only 128 pages long, but boy does it pack a lot of information into those pages. The target audience is the group of children who range in age from 8-12 years old (3-7 the grade); a big caveat, here, I am an adult and I very much enjoyed this book, so don't let the target audience deter you. 

     Moreover, this title, technically, isn't the AGE OF ULTRON, but the Avengers Battle Against Ultron. Material in the book covers the Age of Ultron, but other periods regarding Ultron, his pitched battle against his biggest enemy, The Avengers, is also included.

     I picked this book up because as I perused its pages, I noted many things about the Avengers, Ultron, Vision, and other superheroes and villains, that I had not known before. For example, I learned that the super heroine, Wasp, came up with the name for the group of heroes known as The Avengers. So many snippets of information exist that I can't share them all with you, today. But one last thing relating directly to the Age of Ultron, is to show you just how many "ages" of Ultron there have been. (See the graphic here in this paragraph.)

     Another thing you will want to know is that really this little book isn't a story, as such, with a beginning, middle and end. The book doesn't even have chapters, just chun- ks of interesting information about The Avengers, Ul- tron, and other heroes and villains related to the Ultron stories. Nonetheless, I found this book very entertaining as well as informative. And, as you can see from the photo in this paragraph the amount of detail and information included is very compacted on just two pages (about the helicarrier). In the photo in the previous paragraph, the use of color is wonderful and the organization of information is well done and easy to understand.


     For the Age of Ultron Prelude, I think that you may have guessed that I am not happy at all about the lack of any meaningful storyline or new material. I am also unhappy that for $13.59 I should have gotten, not only more pages, but a lesser price. Honestly, I think the value of the book should be $2.99--no more. It isn't enough to have a glitzy cover and glossy pages and vibrant art. I recommend you skip this book, it isn't worth your time or money. For all the above reasons, I rate this book 2 stars out of 5.

     For the book Marvel Avengers Battle Against Ultron, I recommend you buy it if you have any real interest in Ultron or the Avengers. It is very informative and well organized. Moreover, if you know a young person in the target group, it would make a wonderful gift to encourage reading. I loved this little book and for all the above reasons, I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

     Thank you for joining us this week as we got to see the other two books of most interest following the Age of Ultron movie. Please join me next time as I will give you a book radically different from superheroes, comics and spandex. Thank you, again, my friends. I really do look forward to being back with you next time with another new book.

Until next time...
This flower is a white and red Rose of Sharon. [10]

...many happy pages of reading!

Be good to each other.



[1] "Marvel Avengers Age of Ultron Prelude." Retrieved 05-24-15.
[2] "The Avengers (2012) Review." [Kyle James Hovanec; 04-30-12] Retrieved 05-25-15.
[3] "Close-up of Book--Avengers Age of Ultron Prelude." Retrieved 05-26-15.
[4] "Harry Potter and the Missing Story Elements." Retrieved 05-27-15.
[5] "Peruvian Rip Off The Great Thief (Peru)." Retrieved 05-27-15.
[6] "After Thought." Retrieved 05-27-15.
[7] "Marvel Avengers Battle Against Ultron." Retrieved 05-24-15.
[8] "Motorcycle TV The Devil's Ride." Retrieved 05-28-15.
[9] "4.5 Stars Out of 5." Retrieved 05-28-15.
[10] "White Rose of Sharon Gifts." Retrieved 05-24-15.