Is this the end, my friend?1 of 12Sure, it's been teased before. Whether you're thinking of Ultimatum or Cataclysm, or those old fateful words that "we won't crossover Ultimate and 616 Universes unless we're ready to end Ultimate), well, we've been here before.
Nonetheless, with a mega-event on the way that promises to end worlds and alter alternate realities, a teaser that flat out says "The End" for the Ultimate Universe at Marvel Comics makes us take notice.
We've already talked about The significance of the line, but now we'd like to point out what we really want to stick around. Ultimate Universe, you can go away - just let these things stay at Marvel Comics, from the abstract concepts to specific characters and story ideas.
A-List Artwork2 of 12Hitch. Kubert. Bagley. Land. McNiven. These are some big names in comic book artwork, and all of them got bigger with the Ultimate Universe. These artists didn't just grow in stature along with their books, but they provided realistic, grounded redesigns that breathed new life into Marvel. And with book prices rising, we need better execution even more than high concept plots to make a book feel like an "event" - and the best way to do that is to give readers the same kinds of big-name artists that epitomized the early Ultimate Universe.
Superhuman Arms Race3 of 12It's nice to see that not everybody is comfortable with an "Avengers world." The Ultimate Universe never created its superheroes in a vacuum, but immediately had the all-too-human populace react. Some of the best villains of the Ultimate Universe came in reaction to our heroes, including the Weapon X project kidnapping and weaponizing mutants - which led to one of the most brutal and tense X-Men storylines in history - or superhumans being cooked up to combat U.S. foreign policy, such as when the Ultimates had to square off against the Liberators.
It would be nice to see that carry over to the regular Marvel Universe – and maybe give the heroes someone else to fight besides each other.
Smaller Teams and Bigger Stakes4 of 12We don't need Ultimate Darkhawk! The Ultimate Universe showed that sometimes smaller teams are better, giving writers more opportunities to show characterization and draw out action beats. What matters more than big team rosters is big stakes - something the Ultimate Universe did with aplomb, treating Hulk rampages and Magneto attacks on the same scale as 9/11, transforming the superhero skirmishes we're accustomed to into truly game-changing events.
Marvel Zombies5 of 12They're virulent. They're intelligent - sometimes incredibly so. They're super-powered. And they're hungry. Capitalizing on the growing zombie craze, Mark Millar and Greg Land created one of the most frightening groups of supervillains in Ultimate Fantastic Four: Marvel Zombies. Led by an undead Reed Richards, these rotting, cannibalistic characters had all the powers of Marvel's catalog of superheroes, but with none of the responsibility - their hunger for human flesh had twisted them into compete malevolence. Pit them against the heroes of the 616 universe, and there are bound to be casualties.
That of course spun out to a series of mini-series, and has been teased for Summer 2015, crossing over with the Age of Ultron timeline.
Aunt May's Halfway House for Wayward Superheroes6 of 12Emulated in Disney XD's Ultimate Spider-Man TV series, one of the surprise highlights of Brian Michael Bendis and David Lafuentes's run on Ultimate Spider-Man was giving him two unexpected roommates: Iceman and the Human Torch. Paired up with Peter's ex Kitty Pryde, Bendis stumbled upon a wonderful new team dynamic, allowing Spidey to stand outside of the Ultimates umbrella while also giving him a quirky, hilarious and heartfelt team. Spider-Man is as irreverent as they come - give him a cohort of young superheroes to match!
Tony Stark: Dead (Iron) Man Walking7 of 12Tony Stark may have started out with a life-threatening heart injury, but Mark Millar did Stan Lee one better by giving Iron Man a terminal brain tumor. Not only does this tumor give Iron Man a new ticking time bomb - any moment could literally be his last - but attacking Tony's brain added a new level of dramatic irony. Can his memories and perceptions be trusted? Does Tony have a death wish? And will he take us all with him? Making the smartest man in the Ultimate Universe also one of its most unreliable figures was a brilliant move that we hope to see in the 616 universe.
Scott Summers - Mutant Martyr8 of 12Cyclops has been kicked around for years, but we want to give a different perspective. Let's canonize him as a fallen mutant martyr. Assassinated in a surprise twist at the end of Jeph Loeb and David Finch's Ultimatum, Cyclops was a promising leader whose time was tragically cut short. Instead of smearing him as the killer of Charles Xavier, as Marvel did in Avengers vs. X-Men, it would be great to see Scott Summers lead by example in death, just as he did in life.
Hippie Thor!9 of 12A socially conscious Thor that questions violence and brings conflict within the team? Why not! Forgoing all the thees and thous that can make the God of Thunder read like bad Shakespeare, having the strongest Avenger also be its most stubborn and unreliable is a great twist on this longtime character. Thor refusing to show up and fight if it benefits a military-industrial complex makes for great tension in a team setting, and also gives the character a very modern new perspective. And the question of whether or not Thor is actually just a delusional male nurse? This take be worthy, and could be a way of distinguishing the Odinson from the new Thor.
Distill, Distill, Distill10 of 12What launched the Ultimate Universe wasn't just the strong artwork or the real-world plots - what made the Ultimate Universe work was the creators boiled down characters to their essence. With the Ultimate Universe potentially signaling a line-wide relaunch, this is an opportunity to jettison continuity minutiae and even all the random supervillains. The Ultimates's streamlined take clearly influenced Joss Whedon's super-popular Avengers movie (and the MCU at large), and we want to see that trend continue - just take each character and strip them down to their most essential moments and points of view.
Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man11 of 12A modern-day spin on Marvel's flagship character. Who says that Spider-Man can't be black Hispanic teen from Brooklyn? Starting with a viral campaign to cast Community actor Donald Glover as Peter Parker in the then-upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie, Brian Michael Bendis saw there was something to all that groundswell. And we agree. With some small tweaks to the tried-and-true spider-powers such as venom blasts and invisibility, Miles quickly shared the same sort of heroism and endearing qualities that made Peter Parker such an enduring icon. Miles represents something that Peter Parker hasn't in a long time - a learning curve - and it would be fantastic to see him fight alongside young superheroes like Ms. Marvel and Nova in the 616.
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