So…Ultimatum #5 came out this week from Marvel Comics, ending the first volumes of all of their Ultimate titles (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men) and getting things ready for their relaunch as Ultimate Comics, which appears to be set in the same universe.
The question is…what’s left of the universe to continue?
The Ultimatum series, by Jeph Loeb and David Finch, took Marvel’s nine-year old universe and, quite literally destroyed it. A TON of characters died, cities were leveled, and heroes murdered in cold blood.
But before we go into spoiler territory, let’s throw a SPOILER WARNING on – click after the jump to find out more!
Okay, still here? Well, here’s a list of the casualties of Ultimatum.
- Captain Britain – Presumed dead. Blown up by Madrox. (Ultimate X-Men #100)
- Daredevil – Found dead by Spider-Man. Presumably killed by the Ultimatum Wave. (Ultimate Spider-Man #131)
- Doctor Strange – Killed by Dormammu, body taken by an unknown person (Ultimatum #4)
- Spider-Man – MIA after the explosion of Doctor Strange’s Orb of Acmantata. Only his mask was found. He is later found among the wreckage by Captain America and Iron Man. At the end of the issue he opens his eye. (Ultimate Spider-Man #132-133, Ultimatum #4, Ultimate Spider-Man Requiem #2)
- Thor – Trapped in alternate plane of existence. (Ultimatum #3)
- Wasp – Her body was found dead and was being eaten by Blob. (Ultimatum #2)
- Yellowjacket/Henry Pym/Giant Man – Killed by Madrox. (Ultimatum #3)
- Franklin Storm – Killed by the Ultimatum Wave. (Ultimate Fantastic Four #58)
- Angel – Killed by Sabretooth. (Ultimatum #4)
- Beast – Killed by the Ultimatum Wave. (Ultimatum #1)
- Cannonball – Killed by Madrox. (Ultimatum #3)
- Cyclops – Killed by a Quicksilver. (Ultimatum #5)
- Dazzler – Killed by the Ultimatum Wave. (Ultimatum #1)
- Emma Frost – Killed by Madrox. (Ultimatum #3)
- Havok – MIA
- Liz Allan/Firestar – MIA
- Nightcrawler – Killed by the Ultimatum Wave. (Ultimatum #1)
- Polaris – Killed by Madrox. (Ultimatum #3)
- Professor X – His neck was broken by Magneto. (Ultimatum #2)
- Psylocke – on the Death list but no death ever shown.
- Sunspot – Killed by Madrox (Ultimatum #3)
- Syndicate – One head is blasted off by William Stryker, Jr., then he dies from the subsequent blood loss (Ultimate X-Men #99)
- Toad – on the Death list but no death ever shown.
- Wolverine -Presumably killed by Magneto. His hand was shown sinking in the rubble, then clenched into a fist. He may possibly be alive, as Nick Fury had previously theorized that his power was actually “about surviving,” rather than healing. (Ultimatum #5, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #5)
- Magneto – Killed by Cyclops. (Ultimatum #5)
- Blob – His head was bitten off by Yellowjacket. (Ultimatum #3)
- Detonator – Tortured and killed in the Savage Land. (Ultimatum #3)
- Forge – Tortured and killed in the Savage Land. (Ultimatum #3)
- Hard-Drive – Tortured and killed in the Savage Land. (Ultimatum #3)
- Longshot – Tortured and killed in the Savage Land. (Ultimatum #3)
- Lorelei – Killed by Wolverine. (Ultimate X-Men #100)
- Madrox – Killed by Wolverine. (Ultimate X-Men #100)
- Juggernaut – Hit in the eye by a poisonous dart shot by a Sentinel soldier. (Ultimate X-Men #99)
- Doctor Doom – Killed by the Thing. (“Ultimatum” #5)
- Nightmare – Presumably destroyed when the Hulk destroyed Doctor Strange’s Orb of Acmantata. (Ultimate Spider-Man #132)
First off, I should probably say I didn’t particularly like Ultimatum. If you’ve listened to our podcast (and why the hell haven’t you?), you’ll know I harbor no love for Loeb’s Marvel Comics work. I find it reads like fan fiction more than anything else – it hasn’t really made a ton of sense and, story wise, it reads mores like a series of cool scenes than an actual story. Sorry Jeph – normally I’m a huge fan, but, since Ultimates 3, the Ultimate Universe has been a clusterf*ck of shock value and death rather than a particularly fun place to be. Remember when Ultimate Spider-Man and X-Men (and even Fantastic Four) started, and the joy you got in reading the new origins of your favorite characters, and the subtle differences? Since March of Ultimatum series started, the Ultimate Universe has been a dark place, and not particularly fun to read.
In Ultimatum #5, Cyclops kills a begging for mercy Magneto, The Thing crushed Dr. Doom’s head, Wolverine is vaporized, and Cyclops is shot in the head. And this is after the tons of death that have already occured in the previous four issues and tie-ins. I get that this isn’t the Marvel Universe, and I know I’ve been out of the loop for a while on the Ultimate Universe, but it was quite a shocker to see some of the heroes we’ve come to see as the moral compasses of their respective teams turn into cold-blooded killers. Really, ultimately (ha), Ultimatum reads as a five-issue series written pure for shock value and, sadly, it doesn’t seem to really resolve anything.
Sure, characters are dead … a LOT of characters are dead, but all of the outstanding storylines in the Ultimate Universe are still outstanding. So what was the point of Ultimatum? The Ultimate Universe was meant to be an accessible place for people new to Marvel and scared of current continuity to go to find the most popular Marvel characters and enjoy them from the very beginning. Nine years later, it’s a convoluted mess – New York is destroyed and a ton of the most famous characters from Marvel are either dead, or, well, not likeable. So the Ultimate Universe is essentially a much darker version of the Marvel Universe (and the Marvel Universe is kinda dark right now with Dark Reign going on) where anything can happen.
I understand the attraction behind something like that, but it seems to be more for current comic fans who’d rather read a Marvel Universe where characters can actually die and change, than for new readers. And with as many deaths and all the destruction that have already occurred in Ultimatum, it looks like the Ultimate Comics line (starting with Avengers and Spider-Man) look to be taking place in the same universe, picking up after this series left off. Which basically means that the Ultimate Universe isnt’ quite accessible at all, really.
What say you guys and gals? All of Marvel’s lines meant to bring new readers into comics are mired in their own years of continuity right now (even the Marvel Adventures line, which is probably the best option for new readers right now) – how do new readers get into Spider-Man or X-Men without picking up trades?