The first issue of Ultimate Invasion was a major disappointment. Jonathan Hickman has set a high standard for what we should expect from all of his work and Ultimate Invasion #1 did not meet that standard. For as disappointing as the first issue was the ending with The Maker stopping Peter Parker not from either main Marvel Universe of Earth-616 or Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610) but rather from Earth-6160. Going to a new universe right at the beginning creates a lot of intriguing questions for what The Maker will be doing during Ultimate Invasion and if the Illuminati or Miles Morales can stop him. Let’s find out with Ultimate Invasion #2.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Andrew Currie
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
On Earth-6160 The Maker makes various changes including killing Susan Storm, Johnny Storm, Jim Hammond, and Bucky Barnes, controlling Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, and Howard Stark, capturing Thor and Stephen Strange, and making sure Peter Parker, Janet Van Van Dyne, and Hank Pym don’t become heroes.
Due to all these changes Howard Stark and Obadiah Stane merge their companies with Howard becoming Iron Man, Hulk joins a clan of monks, Sunfire unites the Hand with the Harada-Yoshida alliance, and Magik leads her country with as the head of Rasputin family.
All these parties are invited to a gala held by The Maker in the newly created city he built on Latvaria.
As everyone arrives an army of Ultimates suddenly attack. Magik, Colossus, Omega Red, Sunfire, and Obadiah Stane as War Machine fight the Ultimates. They become overwhelmed and Obadiah’s War Machine armor is damage to the point it activates a self-destruct program that causes a massive explosion.
Sometime later, Howard Stark wakes up in one of The Maker’s labs. The Maker reveals he captured all the Ultimates and that they are clones created by people in the future. To ensure the Ultimates are never created The Maker kills the people whose DNA was used to create the clones.
The Maker then reveals he changed Earth-6160 continuity to Howard. He then shows that half his head blown off during a previous attack by a future Ultimates army. While he survived the damage he suffered caused his memories to not work correctly but The Maker believes Howard can help him as the one who built the time machine he has been using. End of issue.
Ultimate Invasion #2 is a comic book that certainly delivers big moments. But in between all that there is a story that never feels like it is heading its next gear. There is a shocking lack of urgency in order to dedicate this second chapter of four to building a specific part of the Earth-6160 universe.
What is honestly the most surprising part of Ultimate Invasion #2 is how small the scope Hickman takes with the world building for Earth-6160. Beyond the opening that details what The Maker did to change or stop the origin story of many iconic Marvel heroes the world building is limited to Howard Stark and The Maker. Even when we get the status quos for Hulk, Sunfire, and Magik they are just treated as off-hand remarks that don’t really give us a sense of the impact The Maker has made to Earth-6160.
Considering Hickman’s history the lack of world building is incredibly jarring. The way it is handled also treats The Maker as largely a neutral character. Even when its revealed that The Maker is suffering from brain damage from the first Ultimates attack it only slightly makes him interesting. This at least may explain why The Maker is so toned down in Ultimate Invasion #2 compared to the first issue. But by toning The Maker down Hickman makes him a lot less interesting of an antagonist.
The only moment where we do feel the impact of The Maker as an antagonist is when he kills off the Ultimates by killing those whose DNA was used to create them. This does establish the brutal efficiency that The Maker approaches with taking out any threat he faces. But even then, since there was no development for the random people whose DNA was used to create the Ultimates clone army it is hard to care for this development.
It would have maybe been more impactful if it was revealed that the DNA used to create the future Ultimates came from Steve Rogers, Peter Parker, Janet Van Dyne, and Hank Pym since they were said to be Inactive in this universe. With how much Hickman loves utilizing the info pages to compliment what goes on in the stories not using at least the reader’s familiarity with Marvel characters to his advantage was disappointing. Its these little attention to detail moments, especially since Ultimate Invasion is a four chapter story, that makes this not have the normal Hickman high quality that’s expected.
With how things go south very quickly it makes it tough to care about characters like Obadiah Stane that are killed off after only having a few scenes in Ultimate Invasion #2. Again, this was an instance where the impact would hit more if it was Tony Stark to utilize the father-son dynamic with Howard as well as the ties to Iron Man. Its character choices like this led to Ultimate Invasion #2 to have a pacing that is neither rushed nor deliberate. Instead, the pacing is just awkward. Due to this pacing the ending has very little impact to drive interest in what the endgame for Ultimate Invasion is.
The only thing that saves Ultimate Invasion #2 is Bryan Hitch’s artwork. Even with the awkward pacing in the writing there is no denying Hitch makes Ultimate Invasion look like a big event. When all hell breaks loose with the Ultimates clone army attack Latveria. The entire presentation of this issue at least feels like it has a large scale which is all Hitch could do with his part of the story.
Ultimate Invasion #2 is another disappoint issue that is only saved by strong artwork. The pacing for the story always feels like it is disconnected with the aspirations for this event. This is certainly not hitting nowhere near the quality that is expected from a comic book written by Jonathan Hickman.
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10