If you believe the hype, the Ultimate Universe as we know it is about to come to an end. With the upcoming mini-series Ultimatum from Jeph Loeb and David Finch, everything that’s happened in the last 8 years of Ultimate stories is coming to a head, with every character introduced so far involved on some level. People will die, books will get cancelled, and the Ultimate Universe will be “tighter” again, according to interviews and announcements. Ultimate Spider-Man was of course the first title, the one that introduced us to a universe similar to the one we already knew from Marvel, but starting NOW instead of starting in the atomic age. Ultimate Origins has let us in on the secrets a bit, showing the start of how this world came to be as it is. However, the promo that was everywhere simply said, “It’s all connected. That’s it. That’s the secret.” This promo isn’t from Ultimate Spidey, but from the relatively short-lived Ultimate Marvel Team-Up. In fact, the book introduced a lot of characters to the Ultimate universe, and before looking forward, we thought we’d take a second to look back, and see what clues we could find.
The first issue features two low-level characters that rarely appear in Marvel Comics. As Spider-Man and Wolverine meet for the first time in the Ultimate Universe, anti-mutant sentiments are just building to a fever pitch. Being a powered individual, Spidey finds himself often lumped into the hysteria, much to his dismay. He even questions if his powers, and how he acquired them, could have something to do with the mutants everyone seems so scared of. He thought to himself that he ought to look into if the spider bite was “just a catalyst” but never really followed up on it. The majority of the first issue was a fight between Wolverine and Sabretooth, and the hints of an underlying government conspiracy, which we’re now seeing start to really pay off in Ultimate Origins. Eventually, Spidey rescues Wolverine from the fight, and Wolvie quickly makes him as a kid. There is one more bit during their conversation, however, when Spidey mentions he thinks he might be a mutant. Wolverine says, “You’re not. I can tell…”
The next two issues furthered the mystery as Spider-man goes toe to toe with none other than The Hulk (who is famously and auspiciously green in these two issues, though he later appears gray in his appearances in The Ultimates, in a nice 616-Ultimate reversal /geekout). The majority of these two issues is simply a very cool, very tense fight between the two super-powered mainstays. Spider-man at one point throws a car at The Hulk, there are more hints of government conspiracy as the Bugle gets tipped off to the Hulk’s existence by an Army folk. Eventually, Hulk gets worn down, eats some fish, and transforms back down to Bruce Banner in front of young Mister Parker. This next part is the important part, and can be taken two different ways. First the full quote:
“Bruce: Listen – Listen to me – There’s not much time. Listen, it’s all connected. That’s it. That’s the Secret.
Spidey: What is? Secret to what?
Bruce: All of it – All of this – it’s all connected. You – Me – They don’t want you to figure it out. They don’t want you to know.”
Now, Bruce was very impassioned in his plea to Spider-man, and knowing that Ultimate Spider-man has largely been the lynchpin of the Ultimate universe can make us take the scene a little differently. What if, by chance, Bruce specifically meant Peter Parker by “you” and not just the general public? It could make Peter’s role in the Ultimate universe, and thus in the coming event, just as important as Wolverine’s recently revealed true role in that world. Which brings us back to Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #1, which featured none other than Spider-man and Wolverine.
So what do you think? Was Bendis, who is now famous for early seeding of clues, truly laying clues 7+ years ago that are having an affect on the Ultimate Universe now? Did Bruce mean the general public, or Spider-man in particular? Sound off!