The biggest talk in Marvel comics right now may be Infinity, soon to be followed by Inhumanity, but where my mind tends to wander is the Ultimate Universe line. As I’ve said before, I cut my teeth on comics with the Ultimate series and it gave me a reason to stay into comics as a whole. From ultimate Spider-Man, the Ultimates, and Ultimate Origins, I’ve read every issue ever released and currently find myself at the precipice of losing it all.
A few weeks back I read an article on CBR with Joshua Hale Fialkov, current writer of Ultimate Comics Ultimates and soon to be Ultimate X-Men for Cataclysm, in which he stated that if the Ultimate Universe were to end, he would “be out of a job.” I took this as a sign from above that they were only teasing the end of the UU and it would in fact be another relaunch, much like after the end of the much loathed Ultimatum and to a lesser extent the post Death of Spider-Man titles. After it was all said and done, the status quo would be changed and another rebuilding would occur, leading us into another strong future of the Ultimate line.
This worked out great with post Death of Spider-Man as Jonathan Hickman reinvented the Ultimates and gave us a truly terrible villain in Reed Richards. To say it best, he took the series places we couldn’t even predict. Brian Michael Bendis gave us Miles Morales in place of Peter Parker. He is younger and of mixed races, breaking the mold on what everyone’s notion of what Spider-Man is. Despite initial hesitation, and BMB’s super slow story pace, it is growing into a series that could flourish on its own for years. Brian Wood’s Ultimate X-Men has been compared to that of the Walking Dead, the surviving mutants placed in a secluded area and the ‘in-fighting’ that occurs among the mutants. All three titles cemented the once fractured Ultimate comics and if another interview with Fialkov is to be believed, those will be the metaphorical concrete boots for the series.
In yet another interview with CBR, Fialkov is asked about his reintroduction of the Ultimate Vision from the original Gah Lak Tus trilogy. A few sentences from his interview, some implicit and some not so, lead me to believe the Ultimate Universe will be ending and it will do so in the next 6 months. He refers to himself as the Housekeeper for the Ultimate characters, in which “Leading up to what is the end of an era, I want to make sure that all these dangling pieces that have been explored but then fallen off to the side — as many of them, especially the ones that I love, brought back to the foreground and really explored.” The end of an era, indeed. This signifies that even he feels that something is coming to a close and what better time to explore unresolved stories. You don’t tie up loose ends in the middle of a story, but rather at the end and it feels as if these loose threads may form the noose that stifles the life from these characters.
As he concluded the interview, one more sentence hit me hard and actually made my heart sink in my chest. “That’s why me murdering the entire Ultimate Universe, as I soon will do…” Fialkov stated. I respect his work and feel he truly gets the characters, especially how he understands the uniqueness in their ultimate versions, but this strikes a nerve as he considers it murder. I’m sure it was an over exaggeration for the interview or perhaps my personal involvement with the series, yet for him to casually state it as murder makes me place him as guilty for what is essentially a victimless crime. Life will go on, I’ll still buy comics and follow the 616 and Cinematic universes as usual, nothing will change. But it will always be his poor word choice that makes me place blame for the conclusion of something so impactful in the world of comic books.
As I prepare myself for the Cataclysm and the stages of loss that will come with losing the Ultimate Universe, I can’t help but feel we’re losing an opportunity. A stage for new, upcoming writers to step in and spin their own tales on characters that are not already established and breath fresh air into books that have decades of continuity. The so called “art” of retroactive continuity problems did not exist and we will lose that luxury in the months to come, and I think that hits me hardest. If you’re looking for any suggestions from the Ultimate Universe for reading, we’ll be posting our favorite stories from the past 14 years of issues soon so you can grab a taste before the curtain ultimately falls.