At first Ultimatum sounded like an awful idea – kill off as many characters in the Ultimate Universe in hopes of shaking things up and bringing readers back to the series that got people interested in Marvel again.  To make matters worse, Marvel opted to go with someone other than Brian Michael Bendis to pen the epic disaster series, which was odd in itself as Bendis has done so much for the Ultimate Universe, it should have been up to him to bring it all crashing down around everyone’s head.  With the final issue of the Ultimatum series, and all related tie-in issues out, Marvel indeed gets its wish in destroying what took nine years to build.

Shaking things up wasn’t well met with critics, fans, and many running around the Intardwebz, but having finished the saga, I think this event is probably one of the best moves Marvel could have done to the Ultimate Universe.

Before you get too worked up, Dear Reader, consider this; the Ultimate Universe was created to bring new readers into the Marvel Universe, something it did very well.  After nine years, the chances of getting new readers on board were slim to none.  Those of us who did jump on the bandwagon oh so many years ago, did get drawn into everything Marvel. I’ve stated before that if it wasn’t for Ultimate U, I would never have picked up a Marvel book to begin with.  The other thing the Ultimate series did was give readers a chance to experience some of the major event stories.  Ultimate Spider-Man in particular brought its take on everything from the introduction to Venom and Carnage to the Clone Saga, and even had the balls to bring Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends into the mix.

The bad thing about all of this, is many readers had seen it all before, and as previously mentioned, few new readers were being brought into the mix.  Ultimatum allowed Marvel to change the status quo (for real this time) and opens up the door for another round of new readers to get on board without having to reboot the entire universe – something that has been done so many times in other titles and series, that it has become so tiring.

With things looking bleak, what is there to look forward to in Ultimate Comics?

1.  Wiping the Slate Clean

Believe it or not, the major disaster allowed Marvel to wipe the slate clean and allows the writers to tell stories that are original to this universe, without falling back on the stories that have been told multiple times in the 616 universe. I can’t wait to see what stories will unfold in a world that is trying to rebuild.  We’re in brand new territory, and it is something I look forward to reading.

2.  Spider-Man is still the cornerstone of the Ultimate Universe

The final panel of Ultimatum: Spider-Man: Requiem #2 did show Peter Parker waking up in the arms of Captain America, which does give hope that the teenage hero will return to help bring order to the world that needs his help to rebuild. Or perhaps there will be a new Spider-Man donning the tights, swinging through the city making smart remarks, all while fighting crime.  Considering Peter used science for his web shooters in this series, it wouldn’t be too hard to put someone else with super strength behind the mask and tell his (or her) adventures. Had Marvel wiped Peter from the face of the Earth, I doubt anyone would be interested in the tales yet to be told.  The hope that he will be back is enough to get me to continue reading the Ultimate line for months to come.

3.  Maybe we can avoid the whole Civil War, Planet Hulk, and Dark Reign retelling

The way things were heading, the Ultimate Universe was on target to start retelling the event stories from the 616 that occurred just a few years ago. The thought of having to read Ultimate Civil War, Ultimate Planet Hulk, and Ultimate Dark Reign was in no way appealing to me, so here’s hoping the jump in time that occurs when Ultimate Comics arrives will allow the writers to focus on rebuilding, reintroducing teams and characters, and hopefully looking more into the repercussions of the Mutant Registration Act that was forced into being after the world discovered Magneto caused the disaster.

4.  Good riddance to bad rubbish

By series end, half the cast of the Ultimate Universe is dead including, but not limited to Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Beast, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Victor von Doom, Thor, and believe it or not – Wolverine.  Yes, the one character everyone thought couldn’t be brought down, was destroyed in a most ultimate way, with nary a living blood cell remaining to bring him back.  Fortunately, Peter Parker lives, as does Mary Jane, Jean Grey, and a few other X-Men. But the Fantastic Four are no longer fantastic, nor are there four in the group, with Ben Grimm joining SHIELD following the murder of Doctor Doom.  And let’s not forget nearly half the population of the Earth following Magneto’s polar shifting skills that kicked this event off in the first place is also dead, missing, or lost in the confusion.

I think we can all agree that the Ultimate Universe had become too crowed, too gimmicky, and just downright too strange for many readers. The whole Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch relationship in the last round of Ultimate Avengers had many people dropping the series, and while the two still live following the big reveal in Ultimatum #5, other characters that had become too tired or simply in the way, were allowed to be moved out of the Ultimate Universe, hopefully for good.


5.  Can you keep a good man down?

The biggest problem with Ultimatum, was in the killing of some major characters.  Sure, the Ultimate Universe could probably survive without the likes of Doctor Strange or Daredevil, but can the Ultimate Universe survive without Wolverine?  The character has appeared in nearly every Marvel title, and to suddenly have him not jumping from series to series, could put a big damper on any interest in any future Ultimate X-Men stories.  Of course it also leaves the door open for a major arc where all the characters are reintroduced in such a way that totally changes what readers expect in their favorite characters.  Or it could just return the Ultimate U back to the status quo.

While I didn’t really care for the bloody, gory, in your face way Jeph Loeb brought down the Ultimate Universe, there are some good things that might come from it.  It’s a lot to think about and a lot to look forward to, and while there may be some animosity toward Marvel for destroying something that was on a good roll, Ultimatum wasn’t the end of the Ultimate Universe, but simply a way of jumping readers into the next generation of Ultimate storytelling.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. vistapa
    August 9, 2009 at 10:43 pm — Reply

    Same as One more day, i understand why somethings had to change, and even maybe enjoy the new storylines, but the event itself have to be so god awful?

  2. August 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm — Reply

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your thoughts here, but I don’t know that the whole bomb-throwing rebuild-it-later mentality will automatically result in better stories… Either way, though, at least we won’t have to deal with accusations that the Ultimate titles are just the mainstream Marvel Universe in a blender.

    Although, I am amused at the notion that somehow these deaths are any more permanent or real than the thousands of comic book deaths we’ve seen before.

  3. August 10, 2009 at 1:03 am — Reply

    The final panel of Ultimatum: Spider-Man: Requiem #2 did show Peter Parker waking up in the arms of Captain America…

    Man, I REALLY hope that that was portrayed differently than what first ran through my mind!

    I felt that the biggest weakness of the Ultimate Universe was the way that the stories almost always hearkened back to the 616 Universe, but just a little more modern. If they can finally break way from that tendency, and start moving off the map of previous stories, I might be more willing to give it a try. If I want to read the old stories I will just read the old stories.

  4. Matt
    August 10, 2009 at 1:59 am — Reply

    Ultimate Hulk Versus Wolverine issue 5 showed me that NOTHING can kill ultimate wolverine. I’m almost sure the rest of his body will regenerate from his arm. They decapitated him and put him in a vacuum and he regenerated! By regenerating he would have a left handed bone claw and a right handed adamantium claw.

  5. Greg A
    August 10, 2009 at 7:54 am — Reply

    I’m wary of these “wiping the slate clean” events in Marvel (and DC’s) side imprints.

    The destruction of Pittsburg in the New Universe, the disaster in the 2099 universe and even what’s happening in the Wildstorm Universe were all last ditch efforts to revitalize those lines and really didn’t have any last effects. Both the New Universe and 2099 titles went quietly into the night and I have a feeling the Wildstorm superhero titles aren’t that far behind.

    I guess we’ll have a better idea if Ultimatium was a good idea on Wednesday.

  6. morpheus
    August 10, 2009 at 9:02 am — Reply

    I have some hope for the new Ultimate titles for no reason, then they don’t have to follow the same rules as the 616 universe. They don’t have to bring characters back they can just create a new character. They don’t have to make the storry fit into the another titles event. With only 3 Ultimate titles the writers should be given lots of freedom to tell stories that they couldn’t tell in other places. Wasn’t that what started The Ultimates?

  7. Ricco
    August 10, 2009 at 10:22 am — Reply

    As long as they don’t pull a “Heroes Reborn” thing it should be a fun ride.

    On a side note the return of Doctor Doom was the one thing I just hated, he was last seen about to face the Galactus powered super zombie avengers of Marvel Zombie fame in Ultimate FF then he shows up again at the end of Ultimates v3 with no explaination on his return. Worse, in the Ultimate U he has no internal organs and is made of living metal, yet Ben smashes his skull and blood pours out, did he also become human again when he returned? Some explaination on the whole Doom bit would have been most welcome…

  8. Joe
    August 10, 2009 at 10:33 am — Reply

    Cyclops didn’t die check the books

    • August 10, 2009 at 11:03 am — Reply

      Really? Because I could have sworn he got a bullet through the brain when he was addressing the crowd…

  9. Brother129
    August 10, 2009 at 11:04 am — Reply

    Jeph Loeb tries to come off as the master writer…that we’re supposed to be able follow all of his plot pieces. After being confused and annoyed to no end with his version of the Ultimates and Ultimatum, nothing made sense until the final issue. Let’s just hope good stories come out of this…

  10. ~wyntermute~
    August 10, 2009 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    “Jeph Loeb tries to come off as the master writer…that we’re supposed to be able follow all of his plot pieces. After being confused and annoyed to no end with his version of the Ultimates and Ultimatum, nothing made sense until the final issue.”

    Wow… This sounds like another comics writer, who completed another mega-event for the other major company not so long ago…. I guess maybe the problem is endemic to “World Changing Events”?

  11. Samson
    August 10, 2009 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    I see what you are trying to say, I really do. But I am not buying anything after this debacle. I got into comics through Ultimate Spider-Man and The Ultimates and Jeph Loeb managed to destroy this entire world Millar and Bendis created. When did the Blob ever act like a cannibal? When did Hank Pym ever put human heads’ on his diet? Why did Hawkeye’s skin color turn from black to white? Why did Thor talk in faux-Chaucer/Shakespearean dialogue? How did Dr. Doom come back? Where in the universe did Valkyrie come from? I realize that the Ultimate Universe was supposed to be more edgy, but does that mean every character has to be a blood lust filled killer?

    I am going to probably get the eventual hardcover of Ultimate Avengers if the reviews are good, and I will give Ellis’ Ultimate Armor Wars a try, but that’s it. Shame on you Loeb, for giving us this atrocity, and shame on you Marvel for letting him.

  12. wilson trang
    August 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm — Reply

    Truth be told. The whole “world goes to hell” concept isnt even that new or great. If we have forgotten, DC’s WildStorm has already gone down this concept right now. The whole Authority/Gen13/Tranquility/WildCAT thing in a post-Apocalyptic world is currently in play in WildStorm. IF anything, it seems that Marvel is trying to send its current 616 world into a parallel post-apoc world as well. The Ultimate universe ended up turning into its 616 counterpart so marvel decided to send it the drastic other way, much like the WildStorm world.

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