The comics and characters of the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe have long been characterized by an increased level of violence, more mature situations and mild language and their knack for reinventing legacy Marvel characters. And a lot of it was successful, with characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men receiving much-needed updates, ones that helped to dig down to the core of what made these characters special. But for every wholesome moment in Ultimate Spider-Man came a crazy event like "Ultimatum" or an express reveal of something terrible, like eating others.
And that's only scraping the surface of the wild nature of the Ultimate Universe. But not all of its craziness was bad. Characters like Peter Parker, Kitty Pryde and Miles Morales made everything worth it. Early issues of The Ultimates were also pretty well-received, and many of the Ultimate Universe comics have been relied upon for inspiration from Marvel Studios. Many of their highly-successful films took direct moments from these comics, while leaving out some of the more ridiculous ones. With the Ultimate Universe now gone (and back again?), we decided it best to look back on some of the craziest things that happened as part of Marvel's revamped, mature imprint.
20 FREAKY FRIDAY
Ultimate Spider-Man was probably most peoples' introduction to the Ultimate Marvel Universe. It wasn't afraid to crank up the stakes and sport an edgy tone that hadn't really been seen in comics since maybe the early part of the previous decade. That all being said, sometimes these hardcore series just want to have a little fun. And such is the case in Ultimate Spider-Man #66, where Wolverine and Peter Parker switch bodies, Freaky Friday-style.
And it follows as you'd expect, with Wolverine telling Mary Jane he doesn't need to go to school, but also making some crude advances toward her. That last bit about Wolverine hasn't really aged all that well, and even at the time came off as creepy and cringy. Peter has a different problem, since he definitely doesn't have the lack of humor that Logan does, so he's found out pretty easily. He's also not nearly as brutal as Wolverine, so his fights have a bit less blood, despite his newly-discovered claw hands. Jean Grey later reveals to Wolverine and Spider-Man that she swapped their bodies because Wolverine hit on her the night before, and this definitely didn't sit right with the naive Peter Parker. This mini-arc ends with Peter having to tell Mary Jane that it definitely wasn't him who made those advances.
19 ULTIMATE END
If you were reading Marvel Comics during the rollout of 2015's Secret Wars, chances are everything you picked up was pretty crazy. But aside from the line-wide antics, one story promised something we sort of saw as unthinkable, though fitting given the event's context. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley returned to what they first started to effectively end the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Though, now that we think about it, it was just a way for them to bring characters like Miles Morales and The Maker into the main Marvel Universe.
But that aside, this miniseries had high stakes, and enough of a payoff to be a stellar farewell to an imprint fans had spent about 15 years reading. But it was shocking enough that Marvel decided to sort of kill off an entire universe as part of its consolidation. However, a recent Bendis comic (one of his last for Marvel) showed that Ultimate Universe is back, and it's got a few new faces (like Ironheart, Riri Williams) among its legacy characters. For an imprint that promised perma-death, this bit alone came as a bit of a surprise, and we can't wait to see where Marvel and co. take the Ultimate Universe next.
18 CAP HATES FRANCE
You may know Captain America as a man of strict moral code. He's the kind of guy that will stand up for anyone and defend them. Don't be fooled, despite his name of Captain America, he's very much a protector of the world. But in Ultimates #12 from Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary, we got to see a darker side of Cap, something prime and proper for the Ultimate Marvel Universe. If you thought things weren't gritty enough up to this point, just wait until you see what Steve Rogers thinks of France.
In this issue, Captain America is caught in a fight with Herr Kleiser, and old Nazi rival of his. Nick Fury is there too, and also Herr Kleiser is naked, leaping from person to person, beating on them senselessly. Turns out, Kleiser helped facilitate an alien invasion, and that shouldn't sit well with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. So when Kleiser is pinned by Cap and asks for his surrender, well, Cap digs his shield deep into this guy's stomach and says "Surrender? SURRENDER??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?" Yeah... we can't even picture Chris Evans pulling this one off in the movies any time soon.
17 THE MAKER COMETH
The Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe was packed to the brim with new takes on classic characters, from the gritty, brutal Ultimates (basically The Avengers), to a young-again Spider-Man and X-Men team. But no changes were quite as drastic as the ones made to The Fantastic Four, a team so iconic that you could probably list off their hero names and power sets without thinking twice about it. Well, Marvel figured it was time to meet The Maker.
Their origin started out just a bit differently as a team, until Reed Richards proposed to Susan Storm. She rejected his proposal, and the Fantastic Four was no more, just like that. What followed, in fairly quick succession, was Reed faking his death and killing his family, planning alien terrorist plots around the world and then being stuck in the Negative Zone, where he primed his intellect and built an army. After being burned by the Human Torch, Reed took to wearing a helmet and founded the Children of Tomorrow, the Dark Ultimates and ultimately called himself The Maker, a bonafide evil Reed Richards. He even tried to kill Tony Stark (and thought he did) while removing an Infinity Gem from his brain.
16 MAGNETO KILLS WOLVERINE
Longtime fans of the X-Men won't be too surprised by this moment, since it has basically happened before. During the events of Ultimate Marvel's "Ultimatum," a group takes the fight to Magneto, including Wolverine. After a successful attempt at singeing Wolverine by controlling Iron Man's blasters and Cyclops' optic blasts, Magneto is stabbed through the chest by Logan. Magneto, of course, responds by ripping the Adamantium from Wolverine's skeleton, effectively killing him by removing the unbreakable metal.
And while this may seem similar to an iconic moment from older X-Men comics, the brutality of this scene does not go unnoticed in its gratuitous display of violence. While fans have plenty of opinions on the actual execution of the "Ultimatum" event, one can't knock the Ultimate Marvel crew for trying to amp up the stakes. In this case, all that remained of Wolverine after this attack was a totally burnt set of bones and one of Wolverine's arms. Of course, that arm was then buried with the rest of the dead X-Men. Kind of grim, right? Well, the Ultimate Marvel Comics get a heck of a lot darker than that, though we've got to admit, "Ultimatum" is chock full of stuff like this.
15 CANNIBAL HULK
The Incredible Hulk has an edible history of cannibalism in the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe. When he was first introduced in the pages of Ultimates #4, he very clearly tries to bite the head off of Tony Stark. Of course, The Ultimates use this brutal, maniacal new Hulk to their advantage in the series. Well, not before having to contain him as he wreaks having on New York City as a monster much more unpredictable than his mainstream Marvel Comics Universe counterpart. It's odd, really, since the Hulk actually first appeared in the Ultimate Universe in Ultimate Team-Up #2, where he was basically a character in parallel with his Marvel Comics mainstay.
But the real kicker is when we learn that the Hulk does in fact eat people, or at least has in the past, independent from the influence of Bruce Banner, his better half. Knowing this sort of thing, the Ultimates unleash the Hulk on the Chitauri horde when they invade, and Hulk follows through and bites their leader's head clean off. That cannibalism is addressed eventually, with scientist Bruce Banner having to deal with the fallout and memories of him eating people. That's... really gross and is extremely sickening.
14 DEADPOOL LEADS THE REAVERS
Love him or hate him, deep down, Deadpool is a good guy. Well, at least in his current Marvel Comics characterization, the guy has a soft side to him. Sure, he's always got the jokes, but now he's been married, has a kid, and regularly protects everyone from Avengers to S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Oh, except for that time he killed Phil Coulson. So, of course, fans were excited to see the character's debut in the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe. And what they got might as well have been what we got in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
The Ultimate Marvel version of Deadpool was a sergeant in the military who hates mutants. Yeah, Deadpool was a racist, anti-mutant military guy who was also a cyborg with incredible strength, his signature healing factor and a brain-exposed skull that honestly looks more like something from Mars Attacks! than from the Marvel Universe. To cap that all off, Deadpool leads the Reavers (also racist) in trying to kill prominent mutants. This leads to a "Most Dangerous Game" style hunt in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. Thankfully, Ultimate Deadpool was taken off the board in Deadpool Kills Deadpool in 2013. Seriously? You can't even give the guy a couple of jokes? The last thing we want is a serious Deadpool.
13 R.I.P. HAWKEYE'S FAMILY
Ever since Hawkeye was introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have been worried that Marvel Studios would be taking heavy inspiration from the character's Ultimate Universe incarnation. And while this moment in questions hasn't come to pass, a lot of Clint Barton's origin actually has. In the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe, Clint Barton has a wife and three kids, which we know were all introduced in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was a family man with a mostly ordinary life that also happened to be part of the Ultimates super team. But when a traitor, later revealed to be Black Widow, doubles back on the Ultimates, Hawkeye's family pays the price.
A group of killer mercenaries break into Clint Barton's house and takes out his family, including his three children and his wife, Laura. Clint spots Black Widow as the team's leader, and Ultimate Hawkeye is born, seeking revenge on someone he had considered a close friend. But when Clint catches up with Black Widow, she's already in the hospital, due to a run-in with Tony Stark. In avenging the deaths of his wife and children, Clint Barton draws his bow and shoots an arrow into Black Widow's head. Hey, we told you the Ultimate Universe was dark.
12 MARVEL ZOMBIES
The idea of Marvel Zombies has long been a fun favorite of fans of Marvel Comics. Sure, the main Marvel Zombies books don't take place anywhere close to the actual, canon Marvel Comics Universe, but they're fun, gruesome reads that tick the boxes of fans of Marvel Comics and books like The Walking Dead. But it all started in Ultimate Fantastic Four, when we first catch wind that their is an entire universe made up of zombified versions of all of your favorite Marvel superheroes and they're looking to break free.
We first learn about this dimension because Ultimate Marvel's Reed Richard's travels there to help a parallel version of himself. He soon comes to find out that it was a trap, and the zombie Fantastic Four just wanted to lure him in so they could use his means of travel to find a whole new universe of brains to eat. Through some help from Magneto, body-swapping and a whole mess of demons, the Marvel Zombies are left trapped in their apocalyptic dimension. But hey, at least it gave us a whole slew of Marvel Zombies books to read, though we haven't caught up with the brain-eating crew since its 2015 "Secret Wars" tie-in.
11 VENOM CURES CANCER
One of the more shocking character changes to happen in the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe was the introduction of Venom. In the original Marvel Comics, Spider-Man brings back a symbiote from space and dons the iconic black suit before realizing its host has a pretty weak moral code and a lack of control when it comes to violence. In Ultimate Spider-Man, Venom was originally designed as a cure for cancer, dubbed "The Suit." Peter Parker's father, Richard Parker, and Eddie Brock's father worked on the project together in hopes of completing it.
The two parents died in a plane crash, and years later Eddie Brock took up the work of his father in an attempt to finish The Suit. Of course, you can imagine things didn't go as planned. Peter Parker gets a hold of the suit and dons his black suit, like before, but quickly realizes the dangers of it and sets out to destroy it. Eddie Brock feels betrayed when he finds this out, so he takes on The Suit for himself and becomes Venom. But Eddie and Venom had a strained relationship as Venom really just wanted Peter back, so you can imagine that became a whole thing as well.
10 QUICKSILVER PERMANENTLY STOPS CYCLOPS
Cyclops has had kind of rocky road in both the main Marvel Comics Universe and in the Ultimate Comics imprint. Throughout his tenure with the Ultimate X-Men, Cyclops was asked to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, date Scarlet Witch and lead Xavier's school of mutants. He even got hooked on the drug "Banshee," a super weird take on the X-Men character of the same name. But Cyclops eventually got things together in an attempt to ban mutants and temper relations with anti-mutant groups.
Yeah, you can probably guess how this all worked out. Following the events of "Ultimatum," Cyclops goes to speak at an anti-mutant protest to build some sort of bridge between the two groups (albeit an awful bridge). But he's caught off guard when Quicksilver assassinates him, which is made all the weirder by the fact that Pietro should have been dead by this point, at Cyclops' hand no less. Remember how is death was half of the reason Magneto went crazy on the world in "Ultimatum"? Yeah, us too. The saddest part of all of this is how much of a leader Cyclops desperately wanted to be, but he ended up becoming the mutant despot he became in the main universe before his death.
9 IRON MAN AND BLACK WIDOW
Black Widow's betrayal and sudden downfall in the Ultimate Marvel Universe wasn't really tied to this moment in particular, but it makes her later motives in the imprint all the more clear. At some point, Tony Stark and Natasha Romanova film themselves together, which goes viral and is picked up by major news organizations. When Black Widow reveals her true intent as a double agent, she takes Tony Stark hostage, kills Edwin Jarvis and attempt to extort Tony Stark into giving her his money. Not a great plan, right?
Tony gets out of this by turning on the nanotech that was already inside of Black Widow, and this stops her from being able to do, well, anything. He then hits her over the head with a bottle and she suffers brain damage, landing her in a hospital bed. But her role in the death of Clint Barton's family soon earns her an arrow through the head for her leading of the group that did it. We much prefer the heroic, no longer an assassin Black Widow. But then again, who's really a good guy in the Ultimate Marvel Universe aside from Spider-Man? We're talking about the universe where eating people is the new hip thing.
8 HULK RIPS WOLVERINE IN TWO
This moment in the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe might be the only one on this list to have happened on the cover a book. And the fact that the cover actually depicted something that happened goes a long way, as well. That moment? Well, it's The Hulk quite literally ripping Wolverine in two. It's the perfect example of just how gruesome and violent the Ultimate Marvel Comics can be, and it goes a long way in showing just how much of a threat this new, unleashed Hulk really is.
It happened on the cover of Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #1 no less, and helps to kickstart the miniseries with Wolverine still reeling from being torn in two. It's sort of a twisted Saved by the Bell routine, where Wolverine climbs a mountain, recovers his lost legs that were thrown by the Hulk, and then starts to recount just how he found himself in this bloody mess. the comic itself actually has a peaceful resolution, as many of these hero vs. hero stories do, but it doesn't take away from the fact that the first thing readers saw on shelves was a thrashing Hulk ripping one of their favorite heroes in half.
7 MAGNETO KILLS PROFESSOR X
For all of their differences, Magneto and Professor X have always remained friends at most and acquaintances at least. In Fox's X-Men films, the two mutant patriarchs butt heads, sure, but their shared history together helps to keep them from crossing too many lines. We're mostly talking about Professor X here, since despite all of his trying, Magneto still ends up killing a lot of people in those movies. But hey, at least he tries out being a hero, in much the same way as he does in the current comics.
But in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Magneto is turned into a murderous demagogue during the events of the mega event "Ultimatum." Magneto gets control of Thor's hammer and sets off to flip the Earth's magnetic poles, creating weather disasters around the globe. And while the X-Men are looking for their fallen teammates in the wake of the tidal wave in New York, Magneto pays a visit to Professor X. Without much to say, Magneto kills the good professor after being told that his X-Men will hunt down the evil mutant. After his death, Apocalypse attempts to fool the X-Men with an illusion of Xavier's return, as if things couldn't get more somber.
6 GWEN STACY IS CARNAGE
Gwen Stacy's death in the main Marvel Comics Universe defined Peter Parker as a character for years, and still makes an impression on the character's current decisions as a hero. But in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Gwen Stacy took on a totally different role. She was sort of like an adoptive sister of Peter's, and her death felt much scarier in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man, where she was kidnapped and fed upon by none other than the murderous symbiote, Carnage.
In a sense, that was where Gwen Stacy died, but it was later discovered that Carnage was still alive, and had somehow bonded to a clone of Gwen Stacy created by Doc Ock and Ben Reilly. This clone eventually had the Carnage symbiote purged from her body, and she then continued to be a supporting character for Peter Parker up until his death, even going on to help guide Miles Morales on his path to becoming Spider-Man. We can't decide what's crazier, that Gwen Stacy was killed by Carnage and then taken over via a clone body, or that the clone of Gwen was able to go on and live a normal, seemingly no different life after the fact?
5 SCARLET WITCH AND QUICKSILVER
The Ultimate Marvel Universe tried a lot in its quest to make the Marvel Universe feel more real, violent and with maximized stakes. But for all of its updating of classic characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Spider-Man, the Ultimate Comics failed at grasping a few things. Love and relationships was definitely one of these things. And while relationships like Mary Jane and Peter Parker's felt earned, some were just plain wrong and in most cases illegal. Of course, we're talking about the incestuous relationship of Scarlet Witch and her brother, Quicksilver.
While the two sport a sort of anti-heroic line throughout the Ultimate Comics, they seem spend way too much time getting awfully close to one another. In bonding over their shared parentage, the two grew close, or rather, that's the justification we get in the books. But it should be made clear that even if your dad is Magneto or Mephisto or Galactus, there's not really an excuse for this. It felt bad then and it feels bad now, but it was extremely shocking and unnecessary at the time. The two fell to a similar fate in the opening moments of "Ultimatum," which sends their father on a world-ending rampage.
4 THE BLOB EATS THE WASP
The fallout from the Ultimate Marvel Comics event "Ultimatum" had its fair share of criticism, what with the numerous character deaths and incredibly gratuitous destruction. But not many individual events compare to the book's obsession with cannibalism in the wake of an already incredibly disastrous, world-shaking event. Yes, that's right, more people got eaten in "Ultimatum," and it was the most visually distressing thing to hit the Ultimate Marvel Comics yet and as you can tell from this list thus far, that's saying something.
After drowning in the flooding of New York by Magneto, The Wasp's body is then eaten by The Blob in the middle of the city. Yeah, this guy couldn't even wait to start eating people. And while the panel in which this happens might be one of the most unsettling things in comics history, it was followed up by Hank Pym, as Giant Man, eating The Blob as a way...to get back at him? Yes, Hank Pym bit picked The Blob up and then just ate his head right off of his body. For a story that should have had no problem with emotional weight, this gratuitous moment of gore turned many people off of the Ultimate imprint.
3 MAGNETO FLOODS NEW YORK
While it may be one of the most controversial events Marvel has ever put together, "Ultimatum" succeeded in at least shaking up the status quo and providing an event where the stakes were amplified and the body count was raised. The biggest part of this would be tsunami wave that put upon New York by Magneto after messing with the magnetic pillars of the world, sending weather globally into a frenzy. Equipped with Thor's hammer and manipulated by none other than Doctor Doom (which we don't find out until later), Magneto reigns down madness on the world.
But the flood in New York may be the scariest of them all, and it led to a series of additional events and needless deaths that ended up turning many off of the Ultimate Universe altogether. For an imprint that promised the stakes to be real and the deaths permanent, no one really expected Marvel to go all "Red Wedding" on us. Bruce Banner drowns, but the Hulk lives, The Wasp gets eaten and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are killed off from the jump. We should have known what we were getting ourselves into. On the bright side, this event gave Peter Parker a chance to truly shine as the hero he is.
2 THE DEATH OF PETER PARKER
While the Ultimate Marvel Universe was packed to the brim with death and destruction, nothing ever quite reached the peak that Ultimate Spider-Man from Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley did. The series was a ride its entire way through, and very neatly reimagined Peter Parker for the modern age, even if going back now makes that series even feel a bit dated. Peter was young, in love (a lot) and was relatable again. His character development was incredible, so when he died, it caught most readers by surprise. Did Marvel kill of its 16-year old hero? By this time, Spider-Man was basically the money maker for Ultimate Marvel, so that made things even more shocking.
But Peter Parker died a hero. He took a bullet for Captain America and then fought off the entire Sinister Six before taking the Ultimate Green Goblin down with him. It was a story that rivaled the best of showdowns, and led to one of the most iconic and emotional character deaths in comics. It also led to the creation and introduction of Miles Morales as a successor to Spider-Man, but still with some of Peter's supporting cast. It felt earned and, most of all, it felt real.
1 MILES MORALES BREAKS THROUGH
Let's take a break from all of the death and destruction to talk about Miles Morales. In what may be the greatest thing to ever come out of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Miles Morales represented a much-needed paradigm shift in how we think of superheroes and what they can mean for everyone. Miles was young when he got his powers in the wake of Peter Parker's death, and though it took him a couple of years to get the hang of things, he quickly became the center of this universe.
He was a hero for those that may not have had a superhero to look up to before, one that bridges a cultural gap that is still being explored today. Miles paved the way, and while Peter's death may be more "crazy" than the introduction of this new Spider-Man, it had all been leading to this moment. For just a second, the Ultimate Universe became a not-so-grim place, and that's because of Miles Morales. It was only a matter of time before he got his mainstream Marvel debut and has even been an Avengers. Now, he regularly adventures with the Champions and gets up to his solo hijinks with his best friends in Spider-Man.