When Marvel’s Multiverse was destroyed and remade in 2015/16’s Secret Wars, it wasn’t just minor one-off universes that got the axe.
Also on the chopping block was the Ultimate Universe, Marvel’s long-running side continuity which featured fan-favorite and influential alternate renditions of popular Marvel heroes. And so, as a result of events related to Secret Wars, the Ultimate Universe was destroyed, and with it all but a select few of its inhabitants.
Or so it seemed.
An upcoming arc of Miles Morales: Spider-Man will explore the return of the Ultimate Universe, showing what it means for Miles – one of the original Ultimate U’s only survivors – and for the Marvel Universe.
But this won’t be the first time we’ve gotten a glimpse into the returned Ultimate Universe – that actually came some time ago.
So what do we know about the Ultimate Universe’s return? Here’s how it shakes out so far.
Who Will Survive and What Will be Left of Them?
Following Secret Wars, only a handful of characters from the Ultimate Universe survived the destruction of Battleworld (a makeshift plane cobbled together from bits of other realities) to make it into the new core Marvel Universe.
Among them was the villainous Maker – the Ultimate Universe’s dark reflection of Reed Richards, himself one of the architects of the new multiverse. He survived into the new Marvel Universe and has menaced various heroes since – though he’s lately been entangled with Venom.
And of course, there’s the most prominent survivor of the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales. In the Ultimate U, Miles took Peter Parker’s place as Spider-Man after Peter died fighting that world’s Green Goblin (remember this later). Miles made it into the mainstream Marvel Universe after befriending Owen Reece, the Molecule Man, whose reality bending powers helped rebuild the multiverse.
Along with sparing Miles from the erasure of the multiverse, Reece saved Miles’ mother and father, his best friend Ganke, his ally Bombshell, and her family, along with a few others. Their lives were incorporated into the mainstream Marvel Universe as if they had always lived there.
But having his life ported to the mainstream Marvel Universe wasn’t Miles’ first brush with it – he previously teamed up with the core Peter Parker when Peter was transported to the Ultimate Universe in 2012’s Spider-Men. That story introduced the core Peter and Miles, an important relationship for both of them.
However, Spider-Men left one burning question – if there was an Ultimate Peter Parker, is their a core Universe Miles Morales?
Turns out, the answer is yes – and he plays a key part in the return of the Ultimate Universe.
Who is Miles Morales?
As it turns out, the core Universe’s Miles Morales is nothing like the teen superhero of the Ultimate Universe – he’s a hardened criminal with ties to Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, as revealed in Spider-Men II.
And it was after the untimely death of Miles’ girlfriend Barbara Sanchez that Kingpin revealed to Miles he had researched alternate universes after the death of his own wife, with the thought of bringing her to the mainstream Marvel Universe – though he ultimately chose to simply take solace in the knowledge that she was alive somewhere.
Miles, however, decided to take things a step further and, after nearly killing his heroic namesake, managed to activate stolen interdimensional tech and travel to another universe where his beloved Barbara was still alive.
And as it turns out, that world was the Ultimate Universe – and Barbara Sanchez isn’t the only character who’s alive there.
When Miles returned in the Ultimate Universe, it’s at first unclear where he is – until the Ultimate Green Goblin appears. Though Miles and Barbara are reunited, their lives are immediately threatened by the monstrous villain, till the Ultimates arrive on the scene to subdue him, accompanied by none other than a familiar looking wall-crawler – a very much alive Peter Parker.
So how did this all come to pass? Well… We don’t actually know yet. That’s presumably where Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10 comes in - which is by Marvel's count the 250th issue of 'Ultimate Spider-Man'.
"Without getting into too much detail, the Ultimate Universe returns in a big way with Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10," Saladin Ahmed previously told Newsarama of the Ultimate Universe’s return. "And Miles is finally going to start to reckon with the weird history he has, coming from another dimension. On the cover we see the Ultimate Green Goblin, a.k.a. Norman Osborn, in his monstrous form... but there's a force behind him that we only know as Ultimatum."
As for who or what Ultimatum is, that also remains to be seen when Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10 releases on September 11.