Secret Wars hits the shelves this month, and this week marks the release of Ultimate End, the final issues left of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. For those who don’t know, the Ultimate Universe is an alternate reality that updated many of the Marvel mainstays for modern readers. Back in 2000, Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men launched the characters in a new way. As the universe formed, so did the titles, as Ultimate Fantastic Four and The Ultimates (aka Avengers) came to the forefront. With this year being the 15th and last year of the universe, I’d like to note some things I’ll miss about the beloved alternate reality.
While some characters maintain similarities to their main universe counterparts, the Ultimate Universe allowed for some much-needed redesigns. The main avengers cast had great updates, with Thor being one that truly separated him from his legacy. The Ultimate Nick Fury is what brought about casting Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as his likeness was used for the design. The designs used for the Amazing Spider-Man movie were closer to the Ultimate designs, and that was a great thing, especially for Electro. Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man, and Moon Knight all had different designs that were used as influences for the main universe’s updated designs. Even the X-Men sported more manageable and realistic outfits that fit just right.
Keeping Things Close
Spider-Man. Fantastic Four. X-Men. Ultimates. While there were plenty of mini-series featuring single heroes, these four books carried the whole Universe. It was much easier to jump into these titles to get a grand sense of the Marvel world. Ultimate Spider-Man alone introduced Hulk, Daredevil, many of the street level heroes, and his whole world on top of all that.
The Ultimate universe was a playground where characters can be reworked, within reason. A big change that came was the event titled Ultimatum, which saw Magneto trying to destroy the world when it was thought his children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, had died. The whole world was affected, and our heroes fought to save a flooded New York. It may not have been the most well-received event, but the writers stood by it and continued on, with the event having lasting effects in every book. Plus, if it wasn’t for Ultimatum, we wouldn’t have J. Jonah Jameson give the best apology to Spider-Man ever.
Mixing Things Up
The Ultimates hate each other. Wolverine gets ripped in half by a Hulk who eats people. Deadpool hosts his own “The Most Dangerous Game” by hunting X-Men on a deserted island. The Watcher pops up all over the world. Kitty Pryde dates Spider-Man? These are a few things that kept the universe fresh and unexpected. The fun of the Ultimate Universe is that it kept things moving and expanding, never stagnating.
If nothing else, the Ultimate Spider-Man series is by far the greatest contribution the Ultimate line gave to comics. Ultimate Spider-Man revitalized the hero as a high school student and kept him there. This Spider-Man faced the sinister six, the Ultimates, the X-Men, Venom, Carnage, an actual Green Goblin and everything under the sun, while still doing his due diligence with his Aunt May, in school, and with friends. He passed the mantle to Miles Morales, who made his own impact as a fantastic, if not better, Spider-Man. Both of these heroes made their mark like no one else, and the world they leave behind will be missed. It’s a touch personal for me because my first time reading Spider-Man from start to finish was the original Ultimate Spider-Man run, and for that, I’m forever grateful to have enjoyed it as it came.
I am happy that Mark Bagley and Brian Michael Bendis will be helming the Ultimate Universe’s final moments, as they are the team that created this world that I’ll forever cherish. Thank you for 15 great years.
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