Artist: Adam Kubert
This has been a fabulous series, and although it didn't have the best start, it has recently became phenomenal, and my favourite Marvel NOW! series. At the same time however the Age of Ultron crossover has been very disappointing, and although there have been a couple of interesting tie-ins, they have also been generally poor, but if there's a series that can make Age of Ultron worthwhile it's this one.
Kang takes the Apocalypse Twins, Uriel, and Eimin to this alternative world that has been caused through the death of Hank Pym, teaching them that a warrior faces their opponent head on, tasking them with killing Colonel America.
This was an amazing issue, and both a brilliant back story, as well as a fabulous tie-in to a disappointing crossover. As I said in my introduction, there have been a couple of tie-in's to Age of Ultron that have been entertaining, but nothing quite as good as this issue, which in a way makes Age of Ultron slightly worthwhile. Both Rick Remender, and Gerry Duggan did an excellent job in showing the development of the Apocalypse Twins prior to the main story, and how they became the killers they are. Now I don't really know how much influence Duggan had in this issue, as co-writing is still sometimes a bit of a mystery to me (with who actually did what), but Remmender has used this opportunity to delve deeper into the past of his storyline, without making it an essential issue to the story, and whatever involvement Duggan had didn't hurt the story. Another thing I loved about the writing was the way it played into the crossover, and this new universe, and to be honest if it came earlier in the crossover, it wouldn't have been as good, and would have felt slightly unnecessary. I also loved that despite this, Remender, and Duggan managed to involve as many members of the Avengers Unity Squad (as they are in this universe) as they could, and it really made the issue feel like it's part of the series, whilst being it's own stand alone story, that also fits into the main story.
The art in this issue was from Adam Kubert, and although his art is nothing compared to any of the artists that have featured on this series so far (John Cassaday, Olivier Coipel, and Daniel Acuña), it suited this issue, and this setting. I've enjoyed Kuberts art in the past, especially on Ultimate X-Men so it was nice to see him feature on this series, and even though his art isn't as visually stunning as the other artists I mentioned, the detail he produced in this issue was brilliant, and it was clear that he made a big effort. I also really loved how Kubert handled most of the character's, especially the changed state of the character's in this new universe. I was however not very fond of how Kubert drew Kang, as his face was a little too square, and overall not the awe-inspiring character that I love to see in comics. Kubert did however make up for this in many ways, as the detail in the settings was also amazing, and the fight sequences were just phenomenal, being very vivid, and exciting, whilst also adding more drama, and suspense, which was truly outstanding. The cover from Jim Cheung was also phenomenal, and the amazing way he drew Kang, reminded me of his brilliant artwork during Young Avengers, and he also drew the Apocalypse Twins perfectly.
The best thing in this issue for me was the genius way that it fitted into Age of Ultron, without spoiling the story, or Age of Ultron itself, although the latter would have been hard. With this being set prior to the main storyline, added the fact that Kang is a time traveller made the connection to this crossover an obvious choice, especially considering Kang is seeing this as a learning ground for the Apocalypse Twins. I also loved how the story utilised the changes that has happened to the Marvel Universe in Age of Ultron, and how that also plays into the hands of the story, giving a unique take on the Age of Ultron setting, making the crossover itself worthwhile to a certain extent.
Although the genius way Remender, and Duggan crossed this series into Age of Ultron was the best thing about the issue, my favourite thing had to be seeing Kang again. Now Kang hasn't really appeared in this story as much as I'd like so far, and it appears that the Apocalypse Twins left him on bad terms, so to see him return to the series was nice, even if it was part of a back story. I do however believe that Kang will return to the main storyline, and sooner rather than later. Anyway, in this issue Kang also continued teaching the Apocalypse Twins, and his teachings were rather interesting, and really showed the influence that Kang has had on the Apocalypse Twins, which was a fitting addition to this issue.
As I said earlier, this issue would show the changed to quite a few members of the Avengers Unity Squad that haven't already featured in Age of Ultron, whilst also mentioning others. The main change that is apparent is that Havok is now the leader of the Morlocks, a group of Mutants who live underground. Now I have to thank Remender, and Duggan straight away, as I really liked the Morlocks in the earlier comics I read when I was younger, and especially in the X-Men Animated series that was out during the 90's, so to see them again was nice. Besides that having Havok as their leader, with fellow Avengers Unity Squad member, Rogue by his side was nice, and a brilliant way to include them in this story. I also loved the interaction Captain America (now Colonel America) had with Havok, and the way this set-up the rest of the issue was perfect.
This issue would also show that the Avengers Unity Squad would have new relationships during this changed period, and although I won't name anyone, as to avoid spoilers, I say what I thought of this. To be honest my first reaction was that this revelation was a bit forced, and only added due to the situation. At the same time I found it slightly interesting, and liked how Remender, and Duggan thought of the what if? factors that come with a change in the universe, but overall it just felt a little too forced for me. It didn't however affect the quality of the issue, and it probably will appeal to quite a few people.
As I said earlier, Kang brought the Apocalypse Twins to this changed time period to advance their learning, mainly teaching them to become killers. Now I know I already talked a little about this earlier, but I felt I still needed to talk about the emotions that were shown during this, especially from the Apocalypse Twins. Now the thing I liked the most about this was that it showed that even though they are the heirs to Apocalypse, and that they've been raised by Kang, Eimin, and more so Uriel show signs of humanity, showing that although they can kill people, they didn't necessarily feel the need to kill for the sake of killing. I also loved how this showed the start of the wedge that would come between the Apocalypse Twins, and Kang, showing why the Apocalypse Twins would eventually leave Kang.
This was yet another amazing issue, and although it's not quite as good as the main storyline that's featured in this series, it has to be the best crossover to Age of Ultron that I've read so far, and also the best issue in the crossover so far (including Age of Ultron itself). The issue showed the developments of the Apocalypse Twins prior to the main storyline perfectly, whilst also showing what's become of the Avengers Unity Squad in this changed universe, and it was simply outstanding, and I'd highly recommend this issue, even if you're not getting Age of Ultron.