Editorial: The Ultimate Universe has been over for a While Now

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, thinUltimatum_Teaser_smgs 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.Peter_Parker_(Earth-1610)_from_Ultimate_Spider-Man_Vol_1_160
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.

Cataclysm brings another "end"

Cataclysm brings another “end”

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.

(15) Comments

  1. Ben

    @13 - I agree. Part of the reason the Ultimate universe worked was because of death being permanent, and meaningful. Hell, I'm still impressed that Bendis never brought Harry Osborn and Kingpin back. As cool is it is having Peter back as a possibly immortal Spider-Man, it kinda cheapens the impact of his death, and takes a lot of the weight out of Miles first character arc. I hated didn't the idea of killing off/replacing the original Ultimates, the Universe has felt incredibly empty since they were killed off.

  2. Danny The Ultrsonic Player

    In all honesty - and I know I'm repeating what's been said before - but the Ultimate U hasn't been the same since Ultimatum. The one thing that kept me interested was Ultimate Spider-Man. The fact that not only Ult. Peter survived the latter event, but now had a makeshift team forming around him (Bobby, Kitty, Johnny, Jessica) opened the door for more storytelling possibilities. But sadly none of those ideas were ever realized, and then they went ahead and killed him, which killed any interest I still had for the Ult. line. I tried to get into the Miles Morales books, but it just didn't click. Now Ult. Peter is back (but not in an epic way I would have wanted) and now they're going to end it? For crying out loud MARVEL, make up your damn minds already!

  3. Gifford

    The Ultimate U has/had some great characters and Jameson and Fury are only a few examples. They have a lot of potencial with this universe, but they have to take seige of that opportunity and bring back the remaining great characters, hire good writers and work some magic. Also, I'm okay with them killing of characters, but those deaths have to mean something. They usually do, but recently it feels like they don't care. Cap died and, though they gave him a (crappy) funeral, they didn't really make it memorable at all. Same thing goes with Monica Chang. She may not be the best character of the universe, but she has had some importance lately and seeing her die so quickly, without even any emphasis was shocking, but undeserving.

  4. Ryan3178

    That's the thing now they killed Jamedon and he was 10 more established and had more depth than the 616 Jamedon who is completely 1 dimensional now.

  5. Ben

    'They had the best Nick Fury and they maimed him!' - I'm still in awe of this decision. Due to the MCU, Ultimate U Nick Fury is now far more recognizable than the 616 , and I was shocked that Marvel didn't keep him around for marketing purposes. But then again Ultimate also had the best Jameson and it looks like they just killed him too.

  6. Gifford

    I also feel that the Ultimate line hasn't been at it's best since Ultimatum, but I feel it also has had some good things in there. USM has continuously been good (I prefer PP than MM, but oh well) and I feel there have been moments like Ultimates vs Avengers, Ultimate Enemy (sort of) and some plot points from Ultimates and U. X-Men that have been either good, entertaining or at the very least, interesting ideas. Unfortunately, they didn't exploit these ideas to their fullest and instead ran them to the ground with bad writing and all of that. Especially after Ultimate Fallout. I feel it can get better, but they have to calm down and get good writers for these projects. USM is good, but it needs more to help it sustain this universe. I mean come on! They had the best Nick Fury and they maimed him! Anyway, I don't wish to see the UU die; but it will if they don't pick up the pace and start producing good stories (on top of USM, of course).

  7. Ben

    Like Nick MB said above. Ultimate Spider-Man has been the only consistently good Ultimate title, it's the heart and soul of the Ultimate universe and, I think the Universe should be kept alive until USM ends. We've got enough Spider-Men/Women in 616 as it is, let Miles and his supporting cast exist in their own continuity.

  8. Javi Trujillo

    I'd like to see Miles continue as his own separate thing. As new as his story is, it's still based on what happened to Ultimate Peter. Miles may be on issue #6, but there are 200 issues of backstory preceding and informing it. I'd hate to see only Miles, Ganke, and Gwen survive into the 616 and lose everyone else.

  9. Nick MB

    Much as I continue to love the Miles Morales series, yeah, the Ultimate brand outside Spidey has been pretty uninteresting to me since Ultimatum. Still, I'd rather they kept it going for Miles than fold him into the 616.

  10. MC3

    #2, could have told you that a decade ago, rofl. But yeah, for all the flaws Quesada had, you got the feeling that if he left well enough alone and not fix what was'nt broken, the success from the early years of his run would have caused the brand to grow and grow, instead everything at Marvel just feels diluted and labored, they truly are making comics a lesser priority these days in favor of the movie and tv branding

  11. ryan3178 - Post author

    @3 You hit the nail on the head and why I ended up ditching DC Comics due to the new 52 after being a loyal reader for years. Also, why I ended up jumping ship on Invincible over on Image. I just got tired of the play outs and the messy history.

  12. spideymaddox

    the biggest problem with the Ultimate Universe is that it was sort of self defeating from the beginning. the idea was to build a new universe where new readers can come on board and enjoy the adventures of their favorite Marvel heroes without all of the long and convoluted history getting in the way. problem is that it dosent take long for your new universe to become as messy and convoluted as the original. Ultimate Universe has existed a small fraction of the time the 616 universe and it would be just as hard, if not harder, for a new reader to get into as an original universe title. this same problem has plagued DC with the New 52. they ditched decades of history to reboot for new readers, but now not only are new readers met with an even more confusing history than before they are left wondering why Dick Grayson isent Nightwing, why Wonder Woman is so bloodthirsty, why Tim was never Robin and why Superman is an amoral douchebag.

  13. Spider-Matt

    What if Miles and some of his supporting cast jump over to Spider-Gwen's universe? I can't tell if that would be a good thing or not...

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