After how disappointing Ultimate Invasion turned out to be the excitement for the return of the Ultimate Universe brand dissipated. To Marvel’s credit they turned things around with their announcement of what the new foundation for the Ultimate Universe will be. At NYCC we learned that Ultimate Spider-Man, Black Panther, and X-Men will make up this foundation. These title announcements along with the creative teams behind them were enough to get me back in on the return of the Ultimate Universe I a new form. Which makes Jonthan Hickman’s prelude to that new beginning with this Ultimate Universe one-shot so intriguing. How will he set the stage for those three series? Find out with our review of Ultimate Universe #1.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
“THE SPOILS OF VICTORY! After the worlds-shaking conclusion of ULTIMATE INVASION, a new team of heroes bands together to save the future! From mastermind Jonathan Hickman and superstar artist Stefano Caselli, don’t miss out on this foundational issue for the new line of Ultimate Comics!” – Marvel Comics
The biggest detriment to the success of Ultimate Invasion was The Maker and Howard Stark. In placing the responsibility of carrying the Ultimate Invasion story, The Maker and Howard Stark diminish the potential of the story. That is confirmed by the fact Ultimate Universe #1 does more to create genuine interest around this reboot led by Jonathan Hickman.
The funniest part of all this is that immediately the Reed Richards’ Doctor Doom and Tony Stark’s Iron Lad are much better leads. The biggest reason for that is that Hickman is able to strike a strong balance of them being guides to this new Ultimate Universe and fully realized characters at the same time. Best of all is that Doctor Doom and Iron Lad summarize everything The Maker did in two pages. The fact Hickman was able to do this in a manner that did not distract them from their mission spoke volumes to all the problems with Ultimate Invasion.
Adding Thor and Lady Sif to the mixed helped the overall development of Ultimate Universe #1. Hickman took full opportunity to utilize the changes The Maker made to this universe to show us those ramifications. Thor being locked up after Loki killed Odin and got everything to view the God of Thunder as a criminal made Ultimate Thor and Lady Sif’s introductions strong.
There was immediate history that was felt with this presentation that had weight behind Doom and Iron Lad breaking Thor out. Learning that Thor chose to stay locked up and not just use Mjolnir to break out was an interesting development. This all helped to make Ultimate Thor and Lady Sif’s characterization make sense.
Which was important to helping not make Doctor Doom and Iron Lad dominate the story like their predecessors did with Ultimate Invasion. Here we had a mix of Doom, Iron Lad, Thor, and Lady Sif to have a more natural flow to the conversation. This allowed the revelations made about how The Maker changed Earth-6160 to suite his vision even more intriguing. Thor and Lady Sif worked well as outsiders learning what Doctor Doom discovered long ago. It created a more natural flow to conversations that were information dumps.
Learning that The Maker kept all the key items that created the normal Marvel Universe history as trophies was the best development of his character. All that was done without The Maker having to physically appear. It drove home how The Maker’s greatest weakness was his overconfidence. He never thought anyone could beat him that rather than destroy things like the spider that turned Peter Parker into Spider-Man he kept it and other things as trophies.
This in turn helped make Hulk and the rest of the cabal running the world into bigger villains. Hickman cemented how what The Maker created will not simply break because he is not around. To The Maker’s credit he united the world’s leaders in such a way that they can operate without him. They’re not simply puppets. Each one has a strength that is valuable to keeping the world order going, showing that they were chosen for their roles for a reason.
This leading to the Ultimates being taken out by Hulk and the world leaders before they officially broke Captain America out and formed the team a strong statement. The cherry on top of Hulk making sure that Tony Stark will catch the blame after his death was a strong statement. This government cabal are not to be messed with and this show of force puts that over to the reader.
Now with this action it creates a lot of questions as to what role Ultimate Spider-Man, Black Panther, and X-Men will have. We know before being taken out that Iron Lad and Doctor Doom got the key Marvel items. What we don’t know is if they were able to release these items to naturally find the people like Peter Parker so they become who they were destined to become? That major question is a good way to make the trio of Ultimate Universe titles have greater intrigue than just seeing Ultimate Spider-Man back in Marvel’s publishing line-up.
All that said it was odd that Ultimate Universe did not show us more of how the world reacted to The Maker not being around. We get a reaction in the epilogue but that was to Tony Stark being blamed for an entire city block being taken. That does show how The Maker really shouldn’t have been the main driver of Ultimate Invasion. There were so many other players that would’ve made the story much better that ultimately The Maker was simply a plot device and not a genuine character.
Stefano Caselli artwork elevated everything that happens in Ultimate Universe. He defines the look and feel of this Ultimate Universe being different from its predecessor or what we saw in Ultimate Invasion. Which is saying a lot since there wasn’t much action in Ultimate Universe #1. Caselli still gives an aura of gravitas to the presence of Doctor Doom, Iron Lad, Thor, and Lady Sif working together and the outcome.
Ultimate Universe #1 accomplished everything that Ultimate Invasion tried but failed to do. That is to create genuine intrigue into the new Ultimate Universe that is set on Earth-6160. Jonatan Hickman and Stefano Caselli did a great job with Doctor Doom, Iron Lad, Thor, and Lady Sif as the leads of this story. How the world responded to their actions in this issue leads to greater interest for three titles that will develop this Ultimate Universe.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10