Spoilers in this review...
Age of Ultron is the first-ever comic event that I am going to be reading, so needless to say, I was excited. I know that a lot of people are irritated at Marvel for publishing an event just five months after Avengers vs. X-Men, but I honestly don't see what the problem is. A story is a story and you don't have to read it if you don't want to. However, I highly recommend you do, because this is a great debut for what looks to be an interesting event.
Bendis starts this event off without explaining why, or how Ultron destroyed New York and left the Avengers in despair, which is slightly irritating, but I assume he will reveal all in time. About half of the issue involves Hawkeye rescuing Spider-Man, captured by an unknown gang. First off, I love how desperate Marvel's greatest heroes have become as the use of despair immediately draws me into this story. I mean, how often do you see Spider-Man trapped in a building with his costume torn apart? It's a pretty captivating scene. When Hawkeye and Spider-Man get back to their base, we see that She-Hulk, Luke Cage, Iron Man, and other heroes are still alive, but struggling to cope with the events that have taken place. The comic ends with Iron Man explaining to Hawkeye that they have a plan of action and that, "He's working on it." Hawkeye is skeptical and for good reason. On the last page we see a torn up Captain America sulking in despair. This end was my favorite part of the issue and was a great way to close the opening chapter. Overall, the story had some minor faults in explaining the reason for Ultron's invasion, and for an event called "Age of Ultron," I would have wanted to see more Ultron in this issue, considering that I have no idea who, or what he is. But with all that being said, Bendis makes up for those mistakes with some great character development, and a captivating, dark feel to it all.
As for the art, Brian Hitch does a great job at rendering the superheroes fighting for their lives in a Manhattan devastated by Ultron. The characters had realistic expressions and positions considering the situation they are in. There is one scene in which Ultron launches a high-pitched sound bomb. During this, Hitch creates a confusing and intense situation where nobody can hear anything. He makes you feel disoriented as if you are there among Hawkeye, Spider-Man and the other bandits inhabiting the building. Furthermore, he does an even better job at creating immense images of a Manhattan in ruins after Ultron's attack. This only adds to the atmosphere of despair in the comic. Throughout the issue, I can't really spot any major defects in the art as it's all smooth and easy to follow, which is exactly what I want with a story like this.
Despite a lack of explaining on Bendis' side, this issue contains great character development, a feeling of desperation, and jumps right into the action -- not to mention some great art and a cliffhanger that will keep you coming back for more.
+ Strong focus on the side of character development
+ Appealing artwork featuring disorienting scenes of New York in ruins
+ A feeling of desperation and helplessness throughout the issue
+ Jumps right into the action
+ Cliffhanger that draws you in
- Little explanation of how and why Ultron attacked New York keeps readers questioning the purpose of the story
- Not much Ultron is seen throughout the comic