<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/albertxii>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>With four new #1 issues the first of which, <b>Ultimate Comics: Ultimates</b> by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, is in stores now Marvel is clearly looking to bring some fresh attention to their 11-year-old Ultimate Comics line. <p>The imprint started with Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley's <b>Ultimate Spider-Man #1</b> in 2000 as an attempt to create a modern Marvel Universe from the ground up, attracting new readers who might have been intimidated by the decades-long history of the existing Marvel titles not entirely dissimilar to the goals of DC's impending "The New 52" line-wide relaunch. <p>In the interim years, the Ultimate Universe has taken on its own distinct history, and is currently a place very different from the old-school Marvel Universe. So if you're looking to get on board with the new Ultimate Comics series and are unfamiliar with the lay of the land or maybe just lost track along the way Newsarama has you covered, with our rundown of 10 of the most important differences between the Ultimate Universe and the classic Marvel Universe. (And in case you're avoiding such things, be aware that major spoilers for the last 11 years of Ultimate titles follow. ) <p>Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to learn more about what makes Marvel's Ultimate Universe unique. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
The association between the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the <i>Pulp Fiction</i> actor didn't start in 2008 after the credits of <i>Iron Man</i>. In the 2002-debuting <i>Ultimates</i> maxiseries, artist Bryan Hitch drew Nick Fury with a more-than-passing resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson, which, though initially done without permission, helped to inspire the take on the character that's now been seen on the big screen in four Marvel Studios films. <p>Not only is Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury the most recognizable example of how influential the Ultimate titles have been, making a traditionally Caucasian character an African-American showed that the Ultimate Universe was definitely not Marvel business as usual.
Super-powered siblings Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have always had a strong familial bond, simultaneously leaving Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and joining the "Cap's Kooky Quartet" lineup of The Avengers in the original Marvel continuity. <p>In the Ultimate Universe though, their dynamic is more "Flowers in the Attic" than "West Coast Avengers." An incestuous relationship between the two was hinted by writer Mark Millar in the pair's early appearances in his run on <i>The Ultimates</i>, and the innuendo was made abundantly clear during Jeph Loeb's run on the third volume of the book. "They're <i>in</i> love," the Wasp helpfully explains to an incredulous Captain America. And just when he was getting used to living in the 21st century...
In the Ultimate Universe, Doctor Doom not only has the considerably less ominous surname of "van Damme," he also was part of the same incident that gave the Fantastic Four their powers, similar to the 2005 <i>Fantastic Four</i> feature film. <p>Like that movie, the accident changes his skin to a metallic hide resembling the armor worn by the original incarnation of the character. Unlike that movie, he also gets hooves and claws all arguably more significant reasons to have a beef against Reed Richards than a couple of scars.
In the Ultimate Universe, things tend to be amped up a little bit from what you might be used to. In the classic Marvel Universe, the extent of damage done by the Hulk's rampages have always been a bit unclear. In Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's <i>Ultimates</i>, not so much. <p>During a rampage (partly prompted by <i>She's All That</i> star Freddie Prinze Jr.) in the first volume of that series, the Ultimate version of the Hulk was mentioned several times to have a predilection for straight-up eating people. This then became kind of his thing, and he even chowed down on the Abomination, something the classic version of the Hulk presumably never considered during their many battles. <p>In the Ultimate Universe, cannibalism isn't limited to the Hulk, either: Not only did the Blob eat the Wasp in <i>Ultimatum</i>, he proclaimed that she tasted like chicken.
A lot of people are disappointed in their kids, but imagine how bummed Captain America was when he found out his illegitimate son was the Red Skull. <p>In <i>Ultimate Comics: Avengers</i>, the Ultimate version of Cap's historical archenemy was established as his child, conceived before he slipped into his decades-long coma during World War II. The future Red Skull didn't react well to the lack of a father figure, and went on a killing spree before cutting off his own face so he no longer looked like his pop, a much more severe version of the "I don't want your life" scene in <i>Varsity Blues</i>.
Like the Marvel Universe version of Cable, Ultimate Cable is from the future. <P>Unlike the Marvel Universe version of Cable, Ultimate Cable is Wolverine from the future, who traveled back in time to help prepare Professor X for war against Apocalypse. He still had a robot arm, though (and pouches).
In the Ultimate Universe, several familiar faces are not nearly as friendly as their traditional Marvel Universe counterparts. The classic Reed Richards is a genius adventurer and family man, while the Ultimate Reed Richards fakes his death, murdered his family, and masterminded several alien attacks on Earth. Not cool. <p>In fact, at this point the Ultimate Mr. Fantastic has turned into something closer to Doctor Doom, scarred face and all (no hooves, though). And he's not the only good guy gone bad.
Currently, Black Widow is a Secret Avenger in the comic books, co-starring in <i>The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes</i> on TV, and played by Scarlett Johansson in next summer's <i>The Avengers</i> movie. <p>Over in the Ultimate Universe, though, she's not interested in that kind of fame: she joined the Ultimates as a traitor, killed Hawkeye's family and held Tony Stark hostage in an extortion attempt. That kind of attitude didn't get her very far, though, as Hawkeye killed her out of revenge. <p>Another Avenger way less heroic in the Ultimate Universe: Hank Pym, who brutally beat his wife, The Wasp, in an escalated version of the infamous strike from the classic Marvel U.
In the Ultimate Universe, mutants aren't "children of the atom" as revealed in <i>Ultimate Origins</i>, they're a result of a government experiment attempting to replicate Captain America's super-soldier powers. Wolverine, dubbed "Mutant Zero," was actually the first of these experiments. <p>This had been a secret to the world at large, but writer Nick Spencer has said in recent interviews that a major plot point in his new <i>Ultimate Comics: X-Men</i> series, debuting in September, will be the truth coming out and the fallout that follows.
You probably heard that the Ultimate Universe Peter Parker died in June, as it hit the mainstream media and gained the status of "comic book news that your parents heard about." <p>Spidey's not the only major Marvel character dead in the Ultimate Universe, though, not by a long shot. Here is just a sampling: Wolverine, Cyclops, Professor X, Magneto, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Hank Pym, Wasp, Doctor Doom, Juggernaut, Captain Britain, Beast, and the list goes on from there. <p>Those are just the "known" characters, too. The tumultuous events of <i>Ultimatum</i> also wiped out a significant amount of the civilian population, generally making the Ultimate Universe a much harsher place to live than the comparably hospitable classic Marvel Universe.