SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read up through Age of Ultron #10 yet, turn back now. I'll be playing fast and loose with the spoilers and such in this article.
Just two weeks ago as of my writing this, Marvel released Age of Ultron issue ten, marking the end of the latest "event" cycle and also acting as a catalog of sorts for the next couple of series that Marvel has decided you must read or be left in the dust. The Age of Ultron series itself carried all the markings of your typical event book, right down to a shimmering cover enhancement. Brian Bendis was the scribe, and he led no less than five artists on a wild goose chase through time with a timey-wimey half-baked science fiction plot that grew out of a great dystopian set up in the first five or so issues. Ultron, a massively powerful and malicious artificial intelligence, had leveled the Earth and a ragtag group of super-heroic survivors were forced to resort to that old chestnut time travel to either go back or forward in time and set things right. Wolverine and Sue Storm of all people defied the majority of the heroes and traveled back through the constantly shifting sands of Marvel time to try and prevent scientist supreme Hank Pym from ever inventing Ultron in the first place. In short, Wolverine murdered Pym, they returned to the present to find everything even worse than when they left due to Hank's assassination, then went back again to prevent themselves from preventing Pym from building Ultron. Phew. My limited ability to structure sentences is already tested just discussing a single time travel event in a story, much less the paradox-y stuff that's present in Age of Ultron.
With Age of Ultron issue ten bagged and boarded, at least three new story paths await, so it's up to you and your budget to decide where to go next. If none of those three flavors tickles your fancy, Marvel has been generous enough to provide even more alternatives for your summer superhero reading, choosing to take their usual method of flooding the marketplace to new and frightening extremes. There are yet more Avengers rosters to fill out, more crossovers to be had between titles, and another "event" book so hot on the heels of Age of Ultron that they practically overlap. Because you demanded it, or even because you didn't, two more Avengers teams lie on the horizon, one of which is scheduled to spin out of Infinity, an event miniseries that hasn't even started yet! The Robo-Avengers of Avengers A.I. and the ethnically-apologetic team called the Mighty Avengers will be hogging the space on your local spinner rack sooner than you think. Remember, at Marvel, A is the new X. I can't speak to either of these new team titles that much, but I'm sure at least one of them will get the proverbial axe by the time the next event cycle rolls around. Avengers A.I. seems to have the most obviously limited lifespan, and yet Mighty Avengers could go the way of the dodo even with the strong ties to the Infinity series and promotional blitz behind it.
Is it too far fetched to assume that a bigger shake-up than we suspect is coming soon from the House of Ideas? Maybe something a liittle heavier than the usual event cycle leads to. Even with Marvel Now still super fresh in our minds, could yet another restructuring of the Marvel line be on its way? With cosmic do-badders and divergent timelines scattered about and the recent announcement of Marvel's Your Universe app, will the possiblities explode or implode? Smaller publisher Valiant is encouraging and even endorsing fan fiction from their readers, hoping to create a farm territori for new IPs and story beats. Could Marvel have something similar in the works. Like the weathered and defeated heroes gathered at Nick Fury's hideout in Age of Ultron issue six, we as fans must look to both the future as well as the past to see what Marvel has up its sleeve. And no matter what product is born of this era, just remember the company line, "it's all part of the plan."