The crossover between the 616 and Ultimate Universe continues with Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley at the helm. The first issue of Ultimate End set-up the conflict going on between both universes set of characters. With the Thor Corps appearance at the end of the issue I am not sure where Bendis and Bagley are taking this series. Let’s see if we get a better idea with Ultimate End #2.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The Thor Corps meet with the Avengers and X-Men from the Marvel-616 Universe. During the meeting the Thors order the Avengers and X-Men to stop their investigation on the dimensional travesty they created, on behalf of Lord Doom. The Avengers and X-Men don’t take nicely to the threat with Hawkeye outright challenging the Thors authority. This challenge earns Hawkeye a thunderbolt that instantly kills him, much to the shock of the Avengers and X-Men.
Sometime later 616-Tony Stark is in his lab still shocked by the death of Hawkeye. Ultimate Tony Stark walks in and asks his counterpart once again why he blames Ultimate Tony for the dimensional event that merged their universes. 616-Tony tells his counterpart to stop making excuses and take ownership of his mistakes. Ultimate Tony pulls out a flask which pisses 616-Tony off even more. Ultimate Tony soon gets where 616-Tony is coming from and agrees to work together, throwing his flask out a window in good faith.
At the home of Ultimate Peter Parker, 616-Peter Parker is having dinner with Ultimate Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. After some awkward small talk 616-Peter tells Ultimate Aunt May and Gwen that his presence must be awkward to them but they both say that they already had some closure. Ultimate Aunt May then asks 616-Peter what he is planning to do.
Over at The Raft, the warden and some cops talk about how the prison is quickly filling up with many powerful villains, Punisher being among those locked up. Ultimate Grey Hulk is suddenly thrown through The Raft and into the prison’s lunch facility. As Ultimate Grey Hulk goes on a rampage the Punisher begins to make his escape.
Over at the Triskelion 616-Maria Hill gets alerted to Ultimate Grey Hulk’s presence at the Raft. Ultimate Nick Fury tells 616-Maria Hill that there are multiple Hulks running around and if Ultimate Grey Hulk was thrown into the prison something powerful must’ve done it.
Ultimate Green Hulk (at least I think it’s the Ultimate version since he lacks the Mohawk and goatee of the 616-Hulk) suddenly burst into The Raft to continue his fight with Ultimate Grey Hulk. As the two Hulks clash Ultimate Nick Fury mobilizes his Hulkbuster unit. The Hulks decide to team-up since the Hulkbuster unit is attacking both of them.
As Punisher is making his escape off The Raft he notices the Avengers, Ultimates and X-Men heading towards The Raft. End of issue.
The Good: Ultimate End #2 felt like a step back from what we got in the first issue of this Secret Wars tie-in comic book. Even though this issue did not live up to the potential it had to tap into there were plenty of highs that made up for the stories lows.
Picking the Ultimate End #2 up with the Avengers and X-Men meeting with the Thor Corps gave the conflict between the 616 and Ultimate Universes conflict higher stakes. The Thor Corps have been a consistent presence throughout the Secret Wars tie-ins so Brian Bendis had to have their appearance here stand out. Bendis did just that with the death of 616-Hawkeye. It was a shocking turn of events that added to how much authority Doom has given the Thors. Hawkeye’s death also gave further sense of urgency to the solution that the 616 and Ultimate Tony Starks are looking for in their search to fix the dimensional rift.
Now with Secret Wars #3 showing us that the 616 and Ultimate characters aren’t the real ones, since the survivors of the 616 and Ultimate Universes were shown to be locked in stasis for several years. Ultimate Tony Stark’s throwaway line about how Doom has reset their part of Battleworld once before I wonder what the two Tony’s will actually end up discovering. As we saw with the Thors threat, there seems to be more to this conglomerated part of Battleworld than we know. What that is will be interesting to discover alongside the Starks.
Ultimate End #2 also did a good job further exploring the unique situation that has been created in this part of Battleworld with two distinct scenes. The first is the scenes between the two Tony’s I was just talking about. Bendis was able to use these two versions of Tony to explore just how much change we have seen 616-Tony Stark go through. 616-Tony having to talk sense into his Ultimate counterpart was a surreal moment that highlighted the age difference between the two universes.
The other standout scene was the dinner between 616-Peter Parker and Ultimate Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. This was something that Bendis couldn’t ignore giving us and he delivered on what it should be. This scene in particular gave Bendis a chance to show off how he is a veteran Spider-Man writer as the dialogue was perfectly awkward. Peter’s dialogue was perfect with how he was trying to handle the entire situation and Ultimate Aunt May’s reaction showed a maturity that Bendis has given her character during the course of his run.
And while the idea was overshadowed by the massive Hulk brawl I did like how Bendis introduced The Raft into the story. Having The Raft prison be overwhelmed by the amount of villains incarcerated gives Ultimate End’s story an added sub-plot for our heroes to deal with. With the Hulks breaking out the villains we now have a chance for some dream villain team-ups to match the Avengers, Ultimates and X-Men team-up.
Mark Bagley’s consistent artwork gave the story a consistent look that kept all the crossover characters inline. Bagley made it easy to tell characters apart, especially during the Tony Starks scene. Giving each character different hairstyle made it easy to differentiate the two, in terms of design and age. Bagley also did a good job with how he was able to get across the awkward atmosphere in the Peter Parker scene.
The Bad: While Ultimate End #2 had some standout moments the issue never lived up to the potential it had. With such great focus on the interaction between 616 and Ultimate Tony Stark it left out all the other characters. With so many existing characters having counterparts in each universe there was a greater chance to explore the dynamic between the different teams.
And as much as I enjoyed the scene between the two Tony’s it did feel repetitive of what we saw from the two in the first issue. The repetitive nature of the scene made it feel like it was going on much longer than it should have. With so many different characters involved in this story the page space could have been better used to show us other parts of this land in Battleworld.
Overall: Ultimate End #2 never reached the level of the first issue. There were some very good fan service moments throughout the issue. The additional sub-plots involving the Thor Corps and The Raft gave us more to look forward to from this series in the future. Unfortunately Bendis failed to use all of the potential opened to him by this crossover between the 616 and Ultimate Universes since he spent too much page space on a repetitive Tony Stark scene. Hopefully Ultimate End #3 can do a better job exploring the possibilities open to this mini-series.