Marvel’s Ultimate Universe was initially launched as a way to offer new readers a good place to jump into Marvel comics. The aim of the Ultimate Universe was to provide updated takes on some classic characters while also staying away from the mess of continuity that was common in the main Marvel Universe. However, the Ultimate Universe was also a place of permanence, meaning that if a character died, they stayed dead.
Though even the Ultimate Universe would still find a way to bring certain characters back from the grave, it doesn’t change the fact that some people still had to watch their favorite characters go through some truly harrowing situations.
Furthermore, the universe's darker tone meant death wasn’t always the saddest thing to happen to some of these beloved heroes. To look into some of the sadder moments from Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, here is our list of the 10 most heartbreaking things to happen in the pages of the Ultimate comic lines.
10 The Takedown of Thor
After the Ultimates had initially been established, the team quickly got embroiled in some drama. One of the biggest moments was the attack against Thor, one of the team’s most powerful members. After Loki decides to start wreaking havoc within the Ultimate Universe, the Asgardian, of course, sets his sights on his brother. Loki begins by posing as someone who claims to know Thor. He then convinces the right government officials that Thor is merely no more than an insane man who parades around in a magic belt, pretending to be the Norse god of thunder.
In actuality, Thor had not been deemed worthy of his abilities and used the belt as a weaker substitute for his powers. However, since the government didn’t know that, they still went forward with a brutal attack on Thor, someone who had offered so much in service. Though he would eventually have his proper abilities restored to him, it doesn’t make this betrayal any less sad.
9 The Fall of Reed Richards
At the start of it’s run, Ultimate Fantastic Four was actually one of the brighter, more lighthearted books in Marvel’s Ultimate line. The team still kept a lot of the family fun that the Fantastic Four were known for. However, the series eventually begins to take a darker tone, especially in regards to Reed Richards, the leader of the team and one of the smartest men in all of comics.
Reed sees stretching his brain as an opportunity to increase his own intelligence, thus helping him to accomplish more good. Despite his good intentions, doing so actually alters his personality, making him into an incredibly evil version of himself, who is also smarter. Hence, the Maker, one of Marvel’s biggest villains (even in the main universe) is born. The most heartbreaking thing about Reed’s situation is seeing him deteriorate. While the Maker is arguable a great villain, the fact that he could have been much greater only makes things feel worse.
8 The Death of Beast
In the main Marvel Universe, Hank McCoy, or Beast, is a founding member of the original X-Men team. In the Ultimate Universe, he is still one of Xavier’s early students, though he plays much more of a background role. Beast is very similar to his main counterpart, especially in regards to personality and intelligence. While some of his relationships are a bit different, the mutant is still the same character that many came to know and love over the years.
Therefore, it was all the more heartbreaking to watch him meet an untimely end. Beast was actually one of the first major deaths within the pages of the original Ultimate X-Men run. After an explosion at a government building, Beast sacrifices himself to save his friends. Hank's death also came without any real warning. What seemed like a routine mission for the team ended with the tragic death of one of the most beloved X-Men, making for an incredibly heartbreaking situation overall.
7 Peter & MJ End Their Relationship
Just because there were a lot of deaths in the Ultimate Universe doesn’t mean that they were the saddest things to occur. Comic legend Brian Michael Bendis firmly established Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson as a couple nearly from the start of his run on Ultimate Spider-Man. Since the two were married at the time in the main Marvel Universe, it was incredibly touching to see their relationship evolve all over again from a younger stance.
After their relationship would be strained by Peter’s life as Spider-Man though, Bendis ended up separating the iconic couple for a time. What made this scene so heartbreaking, in particular, was knowing that neither of them wanted it. Furthermore, since the two characters were so young, it was all the more devastating to watch unfold.
6 The Death of Gwen Stacy
The death of the original Gwen Stacy marked a massive turning point in Spider-Man’s life and comic books in general. While Gwen would come to play a much different role in the Ultimate Universe, seeing her die was still very effective. Though her death certainly didn’t have the same impact as the original, Ultimate Gwen had come to know Peter Parker in a much different way.
At the time of her death, Gwen was practically a sister to Peter. He and Aunt May had essentially adopted the orphaned Gwen and made her part of the family. Hence, seeing her die was equally as impactful for the characters, despite having a lesser impact on readers. Though Ultimate Gwen would eventually make a return several issues later, her untimely death still proved to be one of the lower points for this version of Peter Parker.
5 The Death of Wolverine
Wolverine has always been an incredibly difficult person to kill. Like his main Marvel counterpart, Ultimate Wolverine also had an incredibly rapid healing factor and an adamantium clad skeleton. Ultimate Wolverine would also play a major role in the Ultimate X-Men title from the second issue of the series onward.
Ultimate Wolverine would also go through a pretty drastic character change. Though he would still remain a jerk at times, his morals really shifted by the time he met his end. As the Ultimate Universe was gearing up for a reboot, the X-Men found themselves facing off against Magneto once again. While there, Magneto forcibly removed all of the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton, taking his skin with it. While also one of the more brutal deaths in comics, knowing how far Wolverine had come as a character made his death all the more tragic.
4 The Death of Charles Xavier
Wolverine wouldn’t be the only character whose death was brought about by Magneto. Charles Xavier would also see his demise at the hands of the master of magnetism. Like most people already know, the two were friends far before Magneto started practicing his extreme methods. Despite that, Charles never lost hope in his friend, always believing that Magneto could eventually be brought back to the side of good.
During the Ultimatum storyline, however, Magneto set a plan in motion that succeeded in destroying most of the earth. Shortly after, he paid Charles a visit and murdered him in cold blood. Knowing the shared history between the two made it much harder to witness, especially considering everything Charles had tried to do for the world.
3 The Murder of Hawkeye’s Family
One of the biggest changes to Hawkeye from his main counterpart was the addition of his family. However, this concept that was introduced in the Ultimate Universe would actually find its way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here, Hawkeye is seen to have a wife and three children, all of whom are kept secret in order to protect them from harm.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be enough to save them as a group of mercenaries would track them down and violently murder all four of them. The thing that is truly sad about the situation is that the mercenaries were led by Black Widow, one of Hawkeye’s closest friends. He eventually caught up to her and got revenge, but it doesn’t change the fact that the situation was incredibly sad.
2 The Death of Rio Morales
For those who don’t know, Rio Morales is the mother of Miles Morales, the second Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe. Rio plays a major role in Miles’ life, especially as he is first learning about his powers. She is also a nurse and part of the reason Miles comes to understand the relationship between power and responsibility.
While Miles was definitely closer to his dad, it was still devastating to see his mother die due to a symbiote attack at the hospital she worked at. Like with Uncle Ben and Peter Parker, Miles was ultimately the cause of his mother’s death. Thankfully, due to the Secret Wars event, Rio would make a return, but that doesn’t change the drastic effect that her death initially had on Miles.
1 The Death of Peter Parker
Without a doubt, the saddest moment in years of Ultimate Comics publication is the death of Ultimate Peter Parker. As the longest-running of all Ultimate books, Spider-Man grew into quite the beloved character. The younger Peter Parker had a great appeal, especially with Bendis at the helm of the story.
Following one of the worst days of his life, Spider-Man would finally meet his demise. After being shot by the Punisher, abandoned by Captain America, defeating most of the Sinister Six, and going one on one against Norman Osborn, Peter would finally have enough. Even the combined efforts of some of his allies weren’t enough to save him in the end. Though Peter would also make sure that the Green Goblin was finished, he ultimately passed in the arms of Mary Jane, surrounded by those that loved him, after just turning 16.