Something I was surprised not to see suggested in the analysis of Marvel’s April solicits: Is Age of Ultron Marvel’s Flashpoint?
Judging from the solicits, after all, we “know” – Well, as much as one can know anything from solicitations, which don’t always reflect the actual contents of the books for reasons misleading, mistaken or somewhere in between – that Age of Ultron will feature a hopeless battle during which heroes will die… just like the climactic battle in Flashpoint, with signs pointing to the fact that that battle will end up being part of some alternate reality (unless you really think that the dead heroes are going to remain dead after the series is over, in which case, hey, perhaps you’d like to buy this crate of Fantastic Four #588s I have, it’s where Johnny Storm dies and he never came back), a la Flashpoint.
Also, as the Wolverine and The X-Men tie-in solicit reveals, Wolverine and the Invisible Woman – and other characters as well, for all we know – go back in time for reasons as yet mysterious but presumably to prevent the creation of Ultron in the first place (Judging by the preview art, it’s the right time period). This is where I wonder whether or not we’re actually headed into Flashpoint territory, because having characters travel back in time to change the past essentially puts everything in the present (or Marvel NOW!, if you’d rather) up for grabs.
While I’m not expecting a wholescale reboot as a result of this event book – We’ve just had a linewide relaunch, after all; as much as Marvel likes to reboot and relaunch books, I don’t think they’d really have put this much effort into NOW! if they were planning to do it all over again within a year - isn’t it possible that all manner of smaller continuity changes could be put into place from this trip, and this crossover, loosening up the 50-odd years of continuity for each character and leaving little mysteries and secrets for each title to reveal if and when the creators so desire? Hrm. Maybe that makes this more Zero Hour than full-on-Flashpoint…
(On a related note: Bendis really seems to be into his time-traveling X-Men these days, doesn’t he? I wonder what that is leading to.)