After dodging ultimatums and cataclysms, the Ultimate Universe is finally coming to an end after fifteen years. Marvel hinted as much back when they revealed the plot behind “Secret Wars,” but they confirmed it earlier this week with the announcement of “Ultimate End.” The five-issue limited series comes from the creative team that launched the universe back in 2000 with “Ultimate Spider-Man” #1 — writer Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley. But don’t be fooled, because “Ultimate End” is not just a “Secret Wars” tie-in.
“What you’re going to get a sense of from here on out is that these are not tie-ins in the traditional sense,” said Bendis during a recent press call. “These are very important pieces of the Marvel Universe and for these characters. The tie-ins themselves are actually an event unto themselves. This would be it’s own event if there wasn’t a ‘Secret Wars’… Look how big this is; this is the end of something gigantic we’ve been working on for fifteen years… This isn’t the craziest thing that’s going to happen.”
With the Ultimate Universe forever merging with the main Marvel Universe, some characters will definitely be deemed redundant. Odds are a lot of the characters that have populated the Ultimate U over the past 15 years won’t make it out of the event alive. Here are five that we hope stick around well past “Ultimate End.”
This list is not in any certain order and Miles Morales still has to be the first character on it. Miles’ story cannot end with “Ultimate End.” He’s just too popular and too important of a character to be sacrificed during a crossover event. As the Ultimate Universe’s Spider-Man, Morales got a level of exposure and prominence that is rarely available to non-white characters. His arrival was met with headlines in pretty much every mainstream media outlet — and it was met with even more love. A whole new generation of fans has rallied around this half-black and half-Latino superhero, and Miles’ creator Brian Bendis is well aware of his creation’s importance.
“The reaction to Miles is unique and profound,” said Bendis. “It happens almost daily when someone reaches out to us online with massive cosplay representation or how much the character means to them personally.” Miles has to stick around.
Similar to Miles, Ultimate Jessica Drew is a character that represents another underrepresented minority in superhero comics — and her best stories have yet to be told. There are still no transgender superheroes at the big two publishers and, as a clone of Peter Parker living in a female body, Jess is as close as it gets right now. This is a character with enormous potential, potential that was starting to be utilized in Michel Fiffe’s “All-New Ultimates” run. Drew, who now goes by the codename Black Widow, is no slouch when it comes to being a superhero, either. She’s stood side by side with the heaviest-hitters in the Ultimate Universe as a member of the Ultimates and she helped teach Miles Morales a thing or two.
Make no mistake, the Marvel Universe’s Invisible Woman has grown into a truly fantastic character. She’s evolved into the true matriarch of Marvel’s heroes and has become a commanding force for good. But she wasn’t always written that way. If you read her early appearances from the 1960s, you might think that fainting was part of her set of super powers. The original Sue Storm, first known as the Invisible Girl, did not fare well in her first few decades. Ultimate Sue Storm’s origin reads like a counterpoint to her predecessor’s unfortunate roots. She’s a genius, first and foremost, having four doctorates in bio-chemical sciences to her name. She didn’t have to grow into being the Four’s powerhouse; that was apparent from pretty much the get-go. She’s been a key member of both the Fantastic Four and Ultimates and she also founded her reality’s Future Foundation. This version of Sue Storm never had an Invisible Girl phase; she was Invisible Woman from the start. This also makes her different enough from her Marvel U counterpart that they could easily coexist.
With the original five X-Men running around the Marvel Universe, maybe it’s time for Kitty Pryde to get a dimensionally displaced counterpart. Ultimate Kitty Pryde started out in a similar place as the main Marvel U Kitty, but her life quickly went down a different — and much darker — path. This Kitty watched as many of her teammates died and suffered a major loss when Peter Parker, her first love, was killed in action. She somehow managed to hold it together and become the face of a mutant resistance movement against William Stryker’s army of Sentinels. Ultimate Pryde had to grow up even faster than her Marvel U counterpart, growing into a skilled tactician.
Marvel is in a predicament when it comes to Nick Fury. The slight mess the publisher now finds itself in began when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch decided to reimagine the Ultimate Universe’s Nick Fury as, well, Samuel L. Jackson. This led Marvel Studios to make the only plausible decision they could make when tasked with casting Nick Fury for 2008’s “Iron Man.” As Samuel L. Jackson pushed Fury into greater and greater prominence, the main Marvel Universe was faced with a problem: their Nick Fury looks nothing like movie Nick Fury. The solution was to hastily introduce a new character, Fury’s long lost son, who just so happened to bear a bit of a resemblance to Ultimate Nick Fury. To complicate matters even more, 2014’s “Original Sin” basically wrote the original Nick Fury out of the Marvel Universe.
Now, Marvel has two Nick Furies: one being Nick Fury Jr., a character that fans haven’t become attached to, and the other being Ultimate Nick Fury. The latter Fury has everything the former doesn’t; he has a World War II history, decades of combat experience and has earned the respect, begrudging or not, of every superhero on the planet. That sounds like Nick Fury, right there, and Nick Fury Jr. has none of that.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on “Ultimate End” and “Secret Wars.”
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