SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Felipe Andrade, Marco Lorenzana and Scott Hanna's Ultimates² #100, on sale now.
Al Ewing’s run on the Ultimates wrapped up this week with a jam-packed final issue with art by Travel Foreman, Filipe Andrade and Marco Lorenzana that bills itself as starring “everything that is and ever was” and isn’t too far off in that assessment.
Ultimates² #100 is a tribute to the most cosmic of Marvel’s concepts but ultimately is an incredibly human story about the fate of the entire multiverse -- and it all starts with the return of some familiar looking characters from a recently destroyed universe.
Ultimates vs Ultimates
At the end of the last issue of Ultimates², The Maker — the evil Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe — resurrected the original Ultimates to protect him from the current team using the same name. The Ultimate incarnations of Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Giant Man and The Wasp were last seen in Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate End miniseries, and while they didn’t make it through the cracks like The Maker, Miles Morales and Jimmy Hudson, The Maker’s new powers allowed him to reconstruct his former enemies and sic them on America Chavez’s team of multiversal paramedics.
Unfortunately for the classic Ultimates, they found their successors to be a lot tougher than they could have expected, exemplified by Blue Marvel knocking The Hulk out with one punch. Unfortunately for The Maker, the classic Ultimates quickly begin to have flashes of their lives before this moment, with Giant Man and Wasp remembering their deaths in Ultimatum, and Captain America remembering details about who Reed Richards was in their native universe.
The teams came together to solve the larger problem, and though The Maker unmade Ultimate Cap due to his insubordination, Spectrum is able to handle Richards — or at least this aspect of him. All that's left, then, is the impending end of all things as Eternity was slowly being consumed by The First Firmament. As every universe in the multiverse slowly drifted into one single reality, the two teams were able to shift everything close enough back to where everything should be for Eternity to break free and remember who it is.
The Ultimate Ultimates
This is where things get super cosmic, on a scale even the Ultimates haven't approached yet. Galactus and the Eternity Watch are able to break free of their void of a prison and confront Logos — the merged Lord Order and Master Chaos with the power of The Living Tribunal — for its crimes against reality. Although trapped on Earth due to the events of Secret Empire, Black Panther is able to join the fight by taking control of The Tiger God and ascending to the plane. What’s really interesting, though, is that Black Panther doesn’t use the power of The Tiger God to defeat Logos; it's merely used to meet it in battle. In the Superflow, combat is metaphor, and T’Challa uses his own power, will and resolve to tear Logos asunder into its original constituent pieces.
The Never Queen — queen of probability and sister of Galactus — resurrects The Celestials as The Fifth Host, and the reborn cosmic gods are able to destroy their dark counterparts and even the odds in Eternity’s favor. While the resurrection of The Celestials is generally a good thing for the Multiverse, it may prove to be dangerous for Earth. In every incarnation, or host, they return to the planets they seeded to test if the dominant life-form is worthy of continuing or wiping out and starting again. With the dawn of The Fifth Host, Earth may once again have to prove itself to The Celestials as it has four times previous.
As all of reality is threatened to be wiped out by The First Firmament, Eternity is able to call across the gulf of death and assemble The Ultimate Ultimates, previous incarnations of the universe. At the very start of The Ultimates, Al Ewing established that the post-Secret Wars reality was the eighth incarnation of reality and later it was established that The First Firmament was the first, but until now we haven’t seen most of the intervening universes, except for Eternity’s sister Infinity who is said to be the representative of the seventh, pre-Secret Wars universe and one half of the two-in-one with Eternity himself.
Assembled to do the work of The One Above All, The Ultimate Ultimates bind The First Firmament in the chains it used to bind Eternity himself. When Eternity asks how its possible they could all still yet live, Infinity reminds him of the fateful words Reed Richards uttered to end Secret Wars and restore reality to normal.