SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Ultimates² #9, by Al Ewing and Travel Foreman, on sale now.
In some ways, writer Al Ewing has been Marvel’s secret weapon for a number of years, now. Since the earliest days of his Mighty Avengers run, Ewing been building something big across many different series including New Avengers, Contest of Champions, USAvengers and of course Ultimates.
With the current volume of Ultimates² racing towards its one-hundredth issue and its conclusion, so many of those plotlines are coming crashing together. In the most recent issue, a new player re-entered the game and brought along some old friends from his former home. Hold onto your hats, things are about to get cosmic.
Eternity Watch Assemble
The crux of this issue revolves around Galactus’ pledge to free Eternity from his chains and stop the rise of The First Firmament, the first incarnation of the universe who finds the concept of multiverses offensive and seeks to be all that exists. In order to take the fight to the concept of the first universe, Galactus enters The Superflow, which is essentially Marvel Comics’ version of The Bleed from DC; it’s the space between universes where cosmic entities such as Galactus can fight on a metaphorical level.
Galactus crashes in on a meeting held by Logos — the combined form taken by Lord Order and Master Chaos after they murdered The Living Tribunal — who is instructing the Death Celestials loyal to The First Firmament in their plans. Galactus kicks in a metaphorical, and therefore also physical, door in the middle of space to lead his team against the threat to Eternity, bringing some of the biggest heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe together as Eternity Watch.
Eternity Watch is made up of:
- Galactus AKA The Lifebringer, Galen of Taa’s final form.
- The Infinaut, a cosmic visitor from outside reality.
- Ego-Prime, Ego’s evolved form that also involves a full body for the first time in his life.
- Psi-Hawk, the combined mental energy of The Troubleshooters; formerly Emmett Proudhawk, embodiment of The Psi-Force.
- The Shaper’s Ghost, the remnants of a Skrull experiment which created the first Cosmic Cube.
Eternity Watch itself as a team name is a play on the Infinity Watch, an early incarnation of what would become the Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring Adam Warlock, Drax The Destroyer, Gamora, Moondragon and Pip The Troll. As the fight wages on, the Death Celestials get some outside help from a nefarious source, but we’ll get back to that and what that means shortly.
They're Not Lasers
The Ultimates are in this issue, but in a very limited capacity. While the issue isn’t branded as a Secret Empire tie-in, the majority of the team is currently trapped outside the planetary shield and fighting off waves of Chitauri invaders. The brief snippet of their struggle includes one of the coolest America Chavez moments ever, as she uses her interdimensional stars to access the dimension made out of pure concussive force where Cyclops’ powers originate in order to channel that power against the Chitauri. Did you know Cyclops’ powers come from a dimension of pure concussive force and his eyes are essentially portals? Al Ewing did, and he dropped it into this issue like it was no big deal.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Black Panther is dealing with the problem in his own way and enters The Necropolis to confront The Tiger God which empowers The White Tiger. Ewing’s work with the White Tiger took place in his New Avengers run and the current Tiger God has the power of two White Tiger amulets but no follower to empower. As a god of fear, it attempts to intimidate T’Challa but it seems like instead the Black Panther may subdue and claim the power of the White Tiger for himself.
The Death of The Multiverse
Meanwhile, on Counter-Earth, the facsimile that orbits the sun in an opposite rotation to the real Earth so they never actually see each other, The High Evolutionary is working alongside The Maker, AKA Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe. The Maker is very interested in the plans of The First Firmament, and at first seems to be working to help Eternity break free of its chains. He accesses the Superflow to record the Death Celestials as living information; what that means is that inside the Superflow everything exists as data and data can be copied, stored and most importantly, edited.
Using the information inside the Death Celestials, The Maker is able to edit the code of the multiverse. In doing so, he erodes the Superflow turning the multiverse into a single universe. This causes Eternity to grow stronger and break free of his chains, and as a result, the Superflow is destroyed, seemingly killing Eternity Watch. Eternity himself is absorbed into The First Firmament.
The REAL Ultimates
You’d think the issue would end on such a colossal change to the fundamental nature of the Marvel Universe, but Ewing and Travel Foreman have one last surprise for us before we get to Ultimates #100 next month. While he had access to the code of the multiverse, The Maker made some small edits to bring back some friends. Thus the issue ends with the return of Captain America, Iron Man, Giant-Man, The Wasp and The Hulk of Earth-1610, or as they’re better known, the original Ultimates.
For months, a lot has been going on throughout the Marvel U involving characters from the Ultimate Universe, dating back to its destruction in Secret Wars. The biggest change is that Miles Morales and his entire supporting cast were transplanted into the Prime Marvel Universe, but we also have Jimmy Hudson and the New Marauders positioned as active players, The Maker himself is an exile from the Ultimate Universe, and in the most recent issue of Secret Empire, Bruce Banner seems to remember his death at the hands of Hawkeye, but his dialogue is lettered in lower-case like that of many Ultimate Universe refugees. It feels like Marvel is building to something and we’re all just connecting the dots as they appear; here's hoping next month’s Ultimates finale hopefully gives us some of the answers we need.
The real question, though, involves a moment earlier in the issue. The Maker comments that he’s on a mission provided by Owen Reece, AKA The Molecule Man. Reese hasn’t been seen since Secret Wars, when he was working with the Future Foundation to restore the multiverse. Does this mean The Maker betrayed The Molecule Man by destroying The Superflow, or is this part of his larger plan? More importantly, what will the real Reed Richards think about this when he inevitably comes home?