Marvel Comics To Relaunch The Ultimate Universe With New ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ Series Helmed By Johnathan Hickman
Making a web-swing for the fences in the hopes of enticing readers back to their books, Marvel has announced that they will officially be reviving the Ultimate Universe – and, like before, its debut will be led by everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.
The unexpected return of the 1610 was first revealed on September 20th, courtesy of Marvel’s official Twitter account.
“Jonathan Hickman’s Ultimate Invasion limited series spawns an entire new Ultimate Universe, complete with a new ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ by [Johnathan] Hickman and Marco [Checchetto],” the publisher unveiled to the public alongside a very simple teaser image which featured just a spider-adorned-‘U’-shaped graphic and the text ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’. “Get more details next month at #MarvelNYCC.”
Launched in 2000 with the original Brian Michael Bendis written and Mark Bagley illustrated Ultimate Spider-Man series, the Ultimate imprint aimed to provide both an updated take on Marvel’s roster of characters and an opportunity for readers to enjoy their stories without being overwhelmed by the publisher’s then 70-year-long continuity.
Sadly, Marvel editorial eventually got the best of itself and allowed the Ultimate universe’s continuity to become overtly-convoluted in its own right. Not only that but, ostensibly in some effort to keep up the sense of the universe’s ever-progressing timeline, they proceeded to have many of the ‘known’ Marvel heroes killed off and replaced with younger counterparts, such as Jimmy Hudson becoming the new Wolverine or Miles Morales taking up Peter Parker’s webs after his death at the hands of the Punisher.
As such, by the time the universe came to a definitive end in 2015’s Secret War event, itself a casualty of Doctor Doom’s multiversal machinations, the imprint had long been written off by fans as a shell of its former self.
But though the 1610 itself ceased to exist, not all of its inhabitants shared its fate.
Following the conclusion of Secret Wars, the 616 became home to a few ‘Ultimate refugees’, including the evil version of Reed Richards known as The Maker , the aforementioned Jimmy Hudson and Miles Morales (along with the latter’s family), a small group of mutants consisting of Armor, Guardian, Mach-II, and Quicksilver, and Thor’s hammer.
Notably, it is thanks to the villain at the top of that list that the events leading up to this new Ultimate Spider-Man series are currently playing out within the pages of the still ongoing, Hickman penned Ultimate Invasion crossover.
Therein, The Maker, sick of constantly being thwarted by the universe’s heroes and fully aware that he physically does not belong in the 616, sets out to recreate and return to the 1610.
However, the disformed madman does so not with the intent of restoring everything to how it was – after all, this original timeline played out in such a way that he was considered a villain whose work must be stopped at all costs rather than the omnipotent leader of men he considers himself to be.
To this end, upon his homecoming, The Maker sets out manipulating major events from the original timeline in such a way that they would produce an outcome favorable to his maniacal plans to craft a ‘perfect’ existence.
Coming full circle, the first event the villain interferes with takes place in a science lab in New York, whereat he prevents a young, bespectacled teenager from being bitten by a glowing, gene-manipulated spider.
With the universe’s flagship hero nipped in the bud, the history of the Ultimate Universe proceeds to unfold in a much different manner, replacing what was once a standard version of Earth with one divided up by various ‘superclans’ whose geopolitical actions are completely directed by The Maker himself, all in the aims of keeping humanity on track to reach the next stage of their evolution.
It is this particular arachnid-related change from The Maker that begs a relevant question regarding the Ultimate Spider-Man relaunch: When it hits shelves, who exactly will be revealed to be wearing the webs, Peter Parker or Miles Morales?
At current in the Ultimate Invasion storyline, not only is Peter ‘depowered’, but Miles still resides in the 616, having defiantly rejected an offer from The Maker to accompany him back to their home universe.
Of course, with one issue left in the miniseries left to go, absolutely anything could happen, from Peter being repowered to Miles becoming trapped in the 1610 following a hypothetical last-ditch-effort to stop The Maker’s plans.
Thus, as it stands, it could be anyone, from Peter, to Miles, to even a brand new hero, who ends up donning the webs in the 1610.
As an aside, it should be further noted that though Marvel is advertising the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man as the official rebirth of the Ultimate universe, the universe has already made a pair of canon appearances across Marvel’s various comics in the years since it was erased by Doom and Molecule Man.
The first came in the second volume of the Bendis-written Spider-Men, whose conclusion revealed that the Universe was alive and well, with its then-recently-revived version of Peter Parker standing shoulder to shoulder with the current team of Ultimates.
The universe was later seen once more in 2020’s Venom Vol. 4 #26, wherein The Maker is shown successfully activating a gateway back to the 1610, which in his absence has become a desolate, superhero-less hellscape.
Ultimately, no pun intended, whether or not these events receive any mention or play into the events of either Ultimate Invasion or Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 3 remains to be seen.
The final issue of Ultimate Invasion hits stands on September 27th.