Ultimate Invasion was the start of something new for Marvel. There were some elements of the previous Ultimate Universe, thanks to Bryan Hitch’s involvement in establishing the design of Jonathan Hickman’s new Marvel Universe. Ultimate Invasion was admittedly not the ideal start as the event was a major disappointment, something we addressed in our reviews. That said Hickman has built a history of successful runs with his work at Marvel that one disappointment won’t deter excitement for his future projects.
Based on what we learned at Marvel’s Next Big Thing Panel at New York Comic Con, there is a lot to be intrigued about the new Ultimate Universe Hickman and Hitch began. Let’s take a look at all the new comic books launching the new Ultimate Universe.
Teaser: Revolutionary writer Jonathan Hickman and acclaimed artist Marco Checchetto (DAREDEVIL) bring you a bold new take on Spider-Man, with the debut title of the new line of Ultimate Comics! After the events of ULTIMATE INVASION, the world needs a hero… who will rise up to take on that responsibility? Prepare to be entangled in a web of mystery and excitement as the all-new ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comic redefines the wall-crawler for the 21st Century!
The teaser for Ultimate Spider-Man accomplished a lot. Right away Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto show they had to go in a different direction from the Amazing Spider-Man and other Earth-616 Spidey titles. If we are going to be getting a new Spider-Man series it needs to have a different direction from the dozens of others in the franchise.
Going back to a teenage Peter Parker would’ve been a massive mistake. We already got that story from Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley’s iconic Ultimate Spider-Man run. And based on the fact that outside a brief, and ultimately unimportant cameo, in Ultimate Invasion #1 Marvel appears to be set on Miles Morales living on Earth-616.
Giving us a take on a Peter Parker who does not become Spider-Man until his mid-twenties or thirties, as the teaser seems to indicate, is exciting. Like what made Spider-Man: Life Story an exciting comic book, Hickman and Checchetto can do their own take on a Peter B. Parker who’s allowed to age and have the life of an adult. Checchetto as the artist is a particularly great choice for this direction as he has shown through his Daredevil and other work to excel with drawing characters allowed to be older.
Adding more questions to what the new Ultimate Spider-Man will be about is that we see the Black Symbiote, Ben Reilly’s Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2099 costumes in the teaser video. With the Spider-Man pose not changing maybe this could mean Peter B. Parker will utilize different costume. Or, Hickman and Checchetto could be playing up the concept of “anyone can be Spider-Man” that Spider-Verse established. Whether it’s either of those or some other reason there is a lot to be excited about the new Ultimate Spider-Man.
ULTIMATE BLACK PANTHER
Teaser: In the wake of ULTIMATE INVASION, Khonshu and Ra—the force known together as Moon Knight—are seeking to expand their brutal control of the continent of Africa. In response, the lone bulwark against them, the isolated nation of Wakanda, will send forth its champion…its king…the Black Panther! From the creative minds of Bryan Hill (BLADE, KILLMONGER) and Stefano Caselli (X-MEN RED, AVENGERS) comes a bold new take on the world of Black Panther and Wakanda!
There are many Marvel characters that could use a reboot of sorts. Black Panther is one of those characters. While there have been a lot of great Black Panther creative runs in the past in more modern times Marvel hasn’t been able to hit a new magical run for the character. A lot of that is the uncertainty of making Black Panther exactly like his MCU counterpart or introducing more cosmic elements to the franchise.
That’s where the Ultimate Black Panther series can step in to accomplish the fresh start the franchise needs. Bryan Hill and Stefano Caselli will not have to worry about the previous continuity for Black Panther and Wakanda. They will be able to establish a new version of Wakanda with its own history. Whether that history takes inspiration from the MCU or Marvel Universe it’s up to Hill and Caselli. Wakanda is a place rich in opportunities.
Another major aspect of the strong potential for the new Ultimate Black Panther is the villain side of things. Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is in contention for the best MCU villain, with only Thanos really beating him for that title. That success has not translated to the comic book side of things for Black Panther. Black Panther’s rogues gallery is still largely unknown. Now Ultimate Black Panther can change that by developing a strong rogues gallery for the character. Starting with Ultimate Killmonger would be the way to go to start this important building block for Black Panther.
Teaser: Visionary creator Peach Momoko reinvents mutantkind for the Ultimate age! In Japan, when a young student named Hisako Ichiki develops armor powers, she discovers she’s a mutant—and she’s not the only one! Meet a new generation of mutants, filled with original and familiar X-Men characters. Together, they’ll learn what it means to be mutant in the Ultimate Universe as they explore their emerging powers and the startling ways they connect to folklore, legend, and magic!
As rich with potential as Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Black Panther have, they are both behind Ultimate X-Men for titles to be most excited about. That all comes down to Marvel bringing on Peach Momoko as the creator behind Ultimate X-Men. I was a massive fan of Momoko’s Demon Days Marvel Universe. So there is no doubt Momoko can deliver wonderful storytelling with unique artwork that stands out from other titles on the market.
Most importantly, what Momoko showed through her work on Demon Days is she understands the importance of world-building for a new universe. Using characters like the X-Men who have a massive fanbase comes with a lot of responsibilities. Like with Spider-Man, this means a lot of fans have knowledge of what an X-Men comic should be. That’s where Momoko’s previous experience with Demon Days is important she had coming into Ultimate X-Men. She’s proven that she can create new, fresh versions of iconic characters like the X-Men and build a rich mythology around them.
Based on the teaser Momoko is already showing she is going to use a different starting point for Ultimate X-Men. Rather than starting with Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, or Wolverine, Momoko is kick-starting things with Hisako Ichiki, aka Armor. How this launches a new direction for Ultimate X-Men that is different from all the other X-Men titles will be interesting to see.
WHERE ARE THE ULTIMATES?
With Spider-Man, Black Panther, and X-Men leading the charge it does create the question of where the Ultimates are. The Ultimates are obviously the launching point for the Ultimate Universe. The new Ultimates of Captain America, Iron Lad, Thor, Doctor Doom, and Lady Sif are the cover characters for the Ultimate Universe one-shot. Hickman would not have ended Ultimate Invasion and placed a focus on them in the one-shot if the Ultimates weren’t a major part of the Ultimate Universe.
With Hickman’s Marvel work being busy with G.O.D.S. and Ultimate Spider-Man this could simply be a bandwidth thing. Along with his Marvel work, Hickman is also working on his creator-owned projects. If Hickman plans to also write the Ultimates getting more time to fully work on the title is for the best. The G.O.D.S. series alone is a major project. Wrapping that up and then going into a new Ultimates series can be a big help for Hickman’s bandwidth.
With that in mind, given how important the Avengers brand is to Marvel right now the Ultimate Universe #1 one-shot will have a lot to answer. There should be an in-universe explanation for the new Ultimates not being the focus when 2024 begins. Maybe Reed Richards and Tony Stark want the team to prepare more from the shadows before fully launching the team. The new Ultimate Thor appearing to be a God from the start, rather than question his status quo like his predecessor, could factor into this. That along with how Ultimate Invasion ended we could see the Ultimates have a much bigger mission statement than before.
Overall, while Ultimate Invasion may have been a disappointment it did not destroy the potential for what comes next. Marvel made sure the new Ultimate Universe was presented strong at New York Comic Con 2023. The announcement of the three pillars of the Ultimate Universe immediately established the rich potential all these series have. That creates great excitement for seeing what the new Ultimate Universe will offer in 2024.