SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Ultimates 2” #2, on sale now.
With the launch of a new volume of “Ultimates,” writer Al Ewing and artist Travel Foreman have blown out the concept of the team of cosmic defenders to new extremes. Now the team (comprised of Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Blue Marvel, Spectrum and Ms. America) is stationed on Taa II, the massive space station that’s also home to Galactus. The team also has a new structure, as they’re now serving as Galactus’ heralds. That gig isn’t as stressful or malevolent as it used to be, either — not since the devourer of worlds became the Lifebringer thanks to the cosmic-level makeover he got from the Ultimates last year.
The second issue of “Ultimates 2” progresses the story as the team wrap their head around Galactus’ offer and the problem they face (namely that some mysterious force has placed Eternity, the embodiment of the universe, in chains). While the superhero team discusses matters, Galactus himself has his own meeting to attend — and it’s a big one.
The cosmic entities Master Order and Lord Chaos, the embodiment of those very ideas, have accused Galactus of upsetting the natural balance of the universe by evolving from the devourer of worlds into the Lifebringer. Chaos and Order have brought Galactus before the Living Tribunal, an omnipotent cosmic entity charged with preserving the ultimate balance of the cosmos.
Order pleads their case before the Tribunal, stating that Galactus’ new role upsets the balance of the cosmos and, when Chaos and Order presented the Lifebringer with their concerns, he attacked them. They ask that Galactus either be returned to his former self of obliterated, with a new devourer put in his place. The Living Tribunal then makes a judgement.
The Tribunal states that Galactus represents “a new balance for a new cosmos. What was is over. What will be has yet to become.” The Living Tribunal is, of course, referring to the recreation of the Marvel Universe following the end of “Secret Wars” last year. Master Order then follows the Tribunal’s logic, realizing that the “cosmic hierarchy is still being formed in this new reality.” With that knowledge, Order and Chaos take their next step — by killing the Living Tribunal.
Originally a Doctor Strange supporting character, the Living Tribunal first appeared way back in 1967’s “Strange Tales” #157. While he’s characterized as being omnipotent and all-powerful, he actually has had a bit of a rough time in recent years. For one thing, the Living Tribunal is already dead; Iron Man and the Watcher found the Tribunal’s corpse in 2013’s “New Avengers” #8. It was later revealed that the Living Tribunal had been killed by the Beyonders.
Of course, it’s not clear whether this Living Tribunal is that one resurrected, or another one entirely. In the 2016 OGN “Thanos: The Infinity Finale,” the title of Living Tribunal was passed to an alternate reality version of Adam Warlock. It’s possible that this Living Tribunal is the former alternate reality Adam Warlock, but that has yet to be confirmed in canon.
Besides the death of the Living Tribunal, “Ultimates 2” #2 also establishes that the team is going to be dealing heavily with the aftermath of “Secret Wars.” While they wait for Galactus to return from his meeting, the team assembled on Taa II notices that it appears to be snowing in space. Spectrum analyzes the “snow,” discovering that it’s actually nothing, literally nothing. It’s revealed to be the remains of the previous Marvel Universe, the one that was destroyed as part of “Secret Wars” — and it’s not happy.
The team then discovers that they are conversing with the Shaper of Worlds, an ancient reality-warping Cosmic Cube created by the Skrulls thousands of years ago. He then tells of how he recreated the Marvel Universe with the help of the Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood (events that happened as part of Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s “Silver Surfer” tie-in with “Secret Wars”). But then the Shaper of Worlds reveals that he “learned the secret” and says he “saw the others.” Blue Marvel surmises that this is an echo of the Shaper, the being’s way of delivering a message to the future.
The Shaper’s ghost warns the Ultimates to “find him and warn him,” although who “him” is remains unknown. It is known that since the message was delivered to Taa II, it was most likely intended for Galactus. Of course as the issue ends, Galactus is left in a meeting with Chaos and Order — two cosmic beings that took it upon themselves to murder another cosmic being. Will Galactus will survive to receive his message from the Shaper of Worlds?
“Ultimates 2” #3 arrives in stores on January 18, 2017.
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