Among Marvel’s many endeavors to bring something fresh to the Marvel comics lineup, The Ultimate Universe has been one of its more interesting takes in recent years. If you consider the year 2000 as recent, that is. But for the past eight years since the conclusion of the Ultimate Universe, after the events of 2015’s Secret Wars, there has been a void where the Ultimate Universe once was. However, with the announcement of Ultimate Invasion earlier in the year, the eventual release of four issues, a one-shot titled Ultimate Universe, and plenty of other runs planned for early next year, we can finally say that the Ultimate Universe is back, and it’s coming back swinging.
Last Lingering Threads
The Maker and Miles Morales were among the last things in the 616 universe that were still around after 1610, The Ultimate Universe, ceased to exist. And while The Maker, an evil Reed Richards of sorts, has appeared since the end of the original Ultimate Universe with plenty of schemes, it isn’t until Ultimate Invasion that he finally can attempt something he longed to do: bring back the Ultimate Universe. However, doing so isn’t as easy as flipping a switch and restoring everything that once was (Although if we’re being entirely honest, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing that comics have done). Instead, The Maker travels to a universe, 6160, which mirrors 616, and alters events to fit the universe that he seeks to create.
Among those things, The Maker prevents certain heroes from becoming who they were meant to become, kills some of them, and creates a shadow government that has control over the entire world. With every change he makes, events shift from their original 616 ones to the brand-new Ultimate ones. From Peter Parker not becoming Spider-Man to Tony Stark not becoming Iron Man, or Reed Richards becoming a Doctor Doom-like character to Thor being labeled a traitor to Asgard, the many changes The Maker makes slowly form to the shape he wants it to be.
It’s a fun spin on the tales that we’ve been told time and time again, and while we still haven’t seen many fan favorite characters show up, there will surely be many surprises moving forward as more and more characters are revealed. For now, the current new Ultimates (which is this universe’s version of the Avengers) is already nicely set with Iron Man (Kind of), Thor, Doctor Doom (again, kind of), Lady Sif, and Captain America—a mix of interesting and familiar characters—and will be the big team that will seemingly move the plot forward as they attempt to fix all of The Maker’s changes.
The story may be called Ultimate Invasion, but that doesn’t necessarily make it clear what it means right off the bat. You might think it’s the Ultimate Universe invading some other universe or vice versa, but no, in fact, the invasion isn’t from some other universe but from within!
Due to all the changes The Maker made, someone in the future, who I won’t spoil who it is, isn’t very happy with how things are panning out. So, in an attempt to stop the maker, someone from the future creates an army of cloned superheroes to invade the past, to where The Maker is, and try to stop him from causing further harm. So with the might of some from the present, and some from the future, they attempt to right what was wronged and stabilize this new Ultimate Universe back into shape.
As a sucker for weird time stuff, this aspect of this run has been a real treat. Having The Maker’s choices affect the future and having that future affect him so drastically in the present is something I loved seeing. And while I felt that a lot of the scenes between the future and the present, the actual “Invasion” part, felt a little lackluster, it’s the ramifications of many of those actions that really hold the weight for the story.
I imagine there will be less of that time-altering moving forward, but the little we got is already pretty interesting, and the plot that we have in front of us is more than enticing enough to not feel like we’re losing anything by not having it. The main selling point of the Ultimate Universe is the new interpretations of old characters, and we’re already getting to see some of that right off the bat. I just hope that it takes some risks the same way that the original Ultimate Universe did (as long as it doesn’t lose what made those characters interesting in the first place).
New Ultimate Universe
With only five total issues out for this new iteration of the Ultimate Universe, there’s no real way of knowing how good the direction is going to be. From the little we’ve gotten, this new universe is chock full of potential, and it’s already proving to be a wonderful take on old characters we’ve known for decades. It’s bringing back a lot of that old Marvel feel that really gets you pumped for what’s to come next. And oh is there much to come. Just in the next year, we have Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Black Panther, and Ultimate X-Men making their debut in this new and exciting universe. With so much more still in the future, and with so much that has to be done after so much was altered due to The Maker, both politically and hero-wise, there’s much to sink your teeth into now and in the future.
As a massive fan of the Ultimate comics (for the most part), I am extremely excited to see where Marvel takes this new adventure and how far they’re willing to go. And of course, I will be covering it here moving forward, so stay on the lookout for that!
Marvel’s Ultimate Invasion #1-#4 & Ultimate Universe #1 are available now.
Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man #1 drops on January 10th, 2024.
Marvel’s Ultimate Black Panther #1 drops on February 7th, 2024.
Marvel’s Ultimate X-Men #1 drops on March 6th, 2024.