The Ultimate Universe is ending next summer… again? Yes, it seems the many Universal Incursions that have plagued Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers is leading to an all-new, Secret Wars. Where the various universes of Marvel Comics will go to war with each other and maybe only one will survive. So, it wasn’t too surprising to see the Ultimate Universe might be finally, finally meeting its end. There is just one problem… most people believe the Ultimate Universe ended a while ago. How is that possible?
Let’s roll back to January 2009 when writer, Jeph Lobe and artist David Finch promised a story that would change the Ultimate Universe forever. After almost a decade of success, Marvel Comics believed they really needed to shake up things up to show how different the Ultimate Universe was from the main 616. Magneto decides to flood New York City and ends up killing tons of super heroes in the process from Daredevil to Dr. Strange and pretty much annihilating the X-Men and the Avengers with his Brotherhood. Of course, Magneto decides he went too far, repents and Cyclops kills Magneto only for Cyclops to be killed by an anti-mutant protester. Only a few heroes survive from Spider-Man to Captain America and mutants are revealed to be genetic experiments gone wrong and that Dr. Doom was really manipulating Magneto from the start.
Sad to say as much as that really shook up things in the Ultimate Universe it lead to some really bad, bad story telling for the Ultimate Universe. From Ultimate Reed Richards becoming a supervillain to Nick Fury having problems with SHIELD left and right and lets not talk about how many times Norman Osborn was killed and brought back to life while other villains could die. Well, things got better for a while for the Ultimate Universe but with such a killing spree of heroes and villains the Ultimate Universe did shake things up but not for the better. Sales fell, other writers came and went and the only book that was keeping its momentum going was Ultimate Spider-Man. While not the once great Ultimate Comics line that was suppose to be the new continuity free series that launched in 2000. Ultimate Comics were starting to be forgotten or many fans were starting to find little interest in the post Ultimatum world. Then came late 2011 and it was announced: “The Death of Spider-Man” the story that would change everything. Well, it sure did, in 2012 the Ultimate Peter Parker was killed during a battle with the Green Goblin and Miles Morales debuted as the new Ultimate Spider-Man. The story was met with criticism, praise and controversy. Many writers and readers felt that killing of Peter Parker was really killing off the Ultimate line because it launched the new universe from the beginning. In fact, Brian Michael Bendis helped to crafted the Ultimate Universe from the start with Mark Millar and while Millar had left the Ultimate line behind, it made sense that Bendis would bring to a close the Universe he helped to launched.
However, Miles beat the naysayers and created a wonderful book that also tried to stay in touch with the New Ultimates book in the post Peter Parker world. Miles quickly became a fan favorite and even started rebuilding a new generation of heroes but then Age of Ultron happens and due to time travel and universe hopping, the 616 Galactus came to Ultimate Earth and Cataclysm was born. Galactus coming to the Ultimate Universe pretty much destroyed what was left of the Avengers and other heroes leading Miles to create his own team and what was left of the Fantastic Four to create the Ultimate Future Foundation. It seemed that maybe all of this world ending stuff in Ultimate Comics would finally see a true rebirth but… it didn’t. Ultimate FF was cancelled after only six issue and low sales and poor storytelling has lead to All-New Ultimates, the sister title to Miles Morales to be cancelled leading to only Miles’ book as the last of the Ultimate books. While Miles Morales: the Ultimate Spider-Man continues to be a great book, a book line it cannot be alone. For the last six years, Ultimate Comics has tried to rebuild itself from event to event and it has never recovered since 2009.
The entire plan of “shake up” the Ultimate Universe to keep it from being a new spin on the 616 line was its undoing. Now, seeing these teases about ending it in the summer of 2015 seems more like a cheap ploy. More than likely it was “change” things again and they will try to launch new books with Miles as the lead of the line again but at this point in time it seems to be another lost gimmick. The sales and fan following of Miles Morales is solid but at the same time, I can see Marvel wanting to have a more profitable line of books and they know that Miles can’t hold down a single universe. The time might come to finally pull the plug and let the Ultimate Universe go swinging into the sunset but most likely they will keep trying until there is no profit to be made or if Brian Michael Bendis feels he is ready to pack up his toys after 15 years and end his long award winning run on Ultimate Spider-Man. Is this really the end of the Ultimate Universe? Most likely not but is it time to pack up and call it a day? Yes, it is. The Ultimate Marvel Universe was a book line that surprised a lot of readers and fans but now it’s a shadow of what it once was. Constant shake-ups, changes in creative teams ruined it and now its time to “let it go” as Elsa would tell us.