Reviewing the Ultimate Universe

Reviewing the Ultimate Universe
While it's difficult to take any of the events of Secret Wars - that is, the destruction of Marvel's entire continuity - with any serious conviction until the series ends and we learn the new post-relaunch status quo, one thing that seems a pretty safe bet is that the Ultimate Universe experiment is finally, fifteen years after it began, coming to an end. Of course, we've been here at least twice before - both Ultimatum and Cataclysm were pitched as events that were going to bring things to an close - but it really does all feel rather more final this time, particularly with the confirmation that Miles Morales is going to join the regular Marvel U.

And so it seems as good a time as any to look back over the past decade-and-a-half of revamped, alternate-universe Marvel stories. And to do so in as much punishing detail as possible, by examining the merits of every single ongoing and mini series published under the imprint.

Yes, these are all mine.

This may sound like a ridiculously foolhardy task; but don't worry, I'd already read most of them. Well, some of them. I've been following the imprint since its inception, primarily for Ultimate Spider-Man, but aside from the odd gap here and there I've generally kept up with everything that's been going on. So after a refresher read of some stuff I remembered less well - and a first read of a few things I'd never caught at the time - here's my take on how it all stacks up...

Well, that sounds familiar.

Ultimate Spider-Man (2000-2009)

The original Ultimate series is also, still, one of the best - and still, probably, the defining work of Brian Michael Bendis' career. Some elements of it have unsurprisingly dated in the decade-and-a-half since - but it's still a spectacularly good, "modern day" reimagining of the Spider-Man story, and its influence on the movies that would follow (not just the Spidey ones) can't be overstated. And just when Mark Bagley's art was starting to feel a bit tired (he made a perfect bridging point between the '90s and 2000s, but began to look old-fashioned by the end of the decade), in comes Stuart Immonen to revitalise it. While it's hard to pick out particular arcs as standing out over the others (but "Hollywood", "Clone Saga" and "Death of a Goblin" are up there), it's really just one long, consistently good Spider-Man story. Except for that bloody Geldoff character.

Ultimate X-Men (2001-2009)

The accompanying launch book sees Mark Millar take a somewhat more cynical and edgy approach to revamping the X-Men concept. It's really not a very likeable book, but there are still some intriguing twists and hooks to the conversion; and while the Weapon X storyline is weak, whenever Magneto's involved it's usually pretty good. Of the writers who followed (notwithstanding a brief, quite good fill-in run by Bendis), Brian K. Vaughan's run is decent enough, Robert Kirkman's starts okay but gets bogged down in some messy storylines (including the awful decision to have Cable be a future version of Wolverine - something that's later contradicted by Ultimatum anyway), and Aron Coleite's is genuinely atrocious.

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (2001-2002)

A fun diversion that shows just how unfocused the whole Ultimate setup was in its early days: Bendis is basically given freedom to bring all manner of Marvel characters in, without really properly setting up how they differ from the 616 versions. Some of it's canonical - the first appearance of the Hulk, in issues #2-3, is later alluded to in The Ultimates - but the best issue, the Jim Mahfood-drawn #9, is a madcap Fantastic Four story with a completely different (and older) version of the team.

The Ultimates (2002-2003)

Incredibly revolutionary for its time, but nowadays Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's opus - which was comfortably the most successful Ultimate book - looks somewhat dated, particularly with the way it's rooted in cynical, post-9/11 politics. It's fair to say we wouldn't have the Avengers films (at least not in the form we got them) without it - but it's also fair to say that as soon as they came along, they rendered The Ultimates irrelevant, by taking the things it did well, but showing that those things could be done without all the cynicism and unpleasantness.

Ultimate Adventures (2002-2003)

A nasty, cynical marketing exercise produced as part of a ridiculous publicity stunt perpetrated by Bill Jemas, with no relevance to the Ultimate Universe whatsoever. But at least it wasn't as bad as Marville.

Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra (2003)

A strange little miniseries that marks some of Greg Rucka's only work for Marvel. Obviously designed to tie in to the Daredevil movie, it features Matt in his red costume on the cover despite him never wearing it in the book. Instead, it's a tale about Matt and Elektra at college - and it's quite a good one, but it's odd that it never led into the ongoing series that it seems to hint at. In fact, Ultimate Matt would make only sporadic appearances throughout the line's history, never again getting his own series, before meeting a somewhat ignominious end (killed off-panel in Ultimatum).

Ultimate Six / Ultimate War (2003)

Two otherwise unrelated crossover miniseries, linked by the fact that both co-star the Ultimates: Six is written by Bendis and features them teaming up with Spider-Man, while War is written by Millar and features them teaming up with (after first fighting) the X-Men. Both series basically feel like standard arcs of the main series they respectively tie into, and do little to otherwise distinguish themselves.

No, this was not written by Kevin Smith.

Ultimate Fantastic Four (2004)

A bold reimagining of the concept, but the early issues - co-written by Bendis and Millar - are dull, dull, dull. Then Warren Ellis comes along for a two-arc stint (half of it with the brilliant Stuart Immonen) that's everything a modern-day FF should be: a lively, entertaining, tech-heavy book about science-heroes. Sadly, that run's over all too soon, and the remaining runs by Millar and Mike Carey go back to being dull, dull, dull.

Ultimate Elektra (2004-2005)

It took me so long to get around to finishing reading this. It's just really, really dull. Despite the title (which I presume was done to line up with the Elektra movie - great thinking, there, guys) it's a sequel to DD&E, though there is a bit more focus on Elektra in particular. But while it's not particularly bad, it's completely unmemorable.

Ultimate Nightmare (2004)

The first part of Warren Ellis' Ultimate Galactus trilogy, which he came in and did at the last minute after Mark Millar had to drop out. This miniseries is probably the weakest chapter, actually - it's a bit dark and brown and moody, and the Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men are never particularly fun when they get together. Perhaps the most notable thing about it is that the black ops team that Ellis puts together - Cap, Black Widow, Fury and, for the first time in the Ultimate Universe, Sam Wilson - feels like a big influence on the Winter Soldier movie.

Ultimate Iron Man vol. 1 (2005)

By Orson Scott Card, so I haven't read it.

Ultimate Secret (2005)

The strongest chapter of Ultimate Galactus, as Ellis introduces Ultimate versions of Carol Danvers and Mar-Vell (or Mahr Vehl as he's known here) and, amazingly, has the latter not be shit. It's also a nice reprise of the character work he did on Ultimate Fantastic Four, and features his textbook blend of sciencey technobabble with an undercurrent of actual theoretical possibility. The only downside is that artist Steve McNiven buggers off after two issues, and Tom Raney isn't really a comparable replacement.

Hey, kids: POLITICS!

The Ultimates 2 (2005-2007)

Better than the first volume, by virtue of going bigger, darker and more complex; the first half is particularly strong (with the trial of the Hulk a highlight) but it suffered badly at the time from publishing delays in its second half, meaning that the oversized final issue feels like an unnecessary coda when the story really wrapped up the month before. It's rather difficult to root for the team by the end, too; and perhaps its biggest problem is the way it amplifies the series' somewhat worrying problems with women. Put it this way: the Marvel Studios movies have managed to find something far, far more interesting to do with Black Widow than Millar manages here.

Ultimate X4 (2005)

A two-part X-Men (actually, "Wolverine, Kitty and Iceman") and FF crossover, by Mike Carey and Pasqual Ferry. Readable, but not spectacular - like pretty much all Carey's Ultimate work.

Ultimate Extinction (2006)

A slightly disappointing conclusion to the Galactus trilogy: there are some nice moments, and it's fairly effective at bringing together the entire set of Ultimate characters against a wider threat; but it's a bit all over the place, and this version of "Gah Lak Tus" - while nowhere near as bad as the movie version it inspired - just really isn't very interesting. It's reminiscent of an Authority story Ellis did, but nowhere near as good.

Ultimate Power (2006-2007)

A comic written in part by Jeph Loeb AND J. Michael Stracynski, with art by Greg Land, and you think I'm going to read it? Fuck off.

Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk (2006, 2009)

A daft, entertaining miniseries by Damon Lindelof and the brilliant Leinil Yu, sadly scuppered by scheduling delays when the former got bogged down in his Lost commitments. Despite the several-years delay between its second and third issues, however, it reads pretty damned well now you can do it all in one go.

Ultimate Vision (2007)

Another Mike Carey miniseries, another shrug of the shoulders (he wrote Ultimate Elektra, too). I don't know what it is about his Ultimate work: he's a genuinely great writer at times (usually at Vertigo), and nothing he did here was especially bad, but it's also hard to get excited about any of it. Anyway, the Ultimate version of the Vision was pretty naff (a sexy female robot that served as Galactus' herald instead of the Silver Surfer, and eventually fell in love with Sam Wilson), and there's nothing much of interest at all in this book.

One can only imagine how proud Loeb felt when he came up with the idea for this scene.

The Ultimates 3 (2008)

Hilariously awful, or just plain awful? If Ultimates 3 had been the first volume of the series, it would be tempting to enjoy it on the former level; as it is, however, the fact that it so wilfully disregards basically everything that had ever been established about the Ultimate Universe in the preceding eight years means it falls more on the side of "insultingly bad". I mean, we're talking basic things like getting the ethnicity of lead characters wrong. To say nothing of the constant, frat-level sexism. All these years on, it should be possible to enjoy it on some kind of ironic level, but it just... isn't. At all.

Ultimate Human (2008)

Despite involving Warren Ellis writing Iron Man, this isn't really a huge amount of fun - a fairly rote miniseries about Tony, Hulk, and an evil version of Pete Wisdom as this universe's version of The Leader. Ellis would later have much better results with this version of Stark.

Ultimate Iron Man vol. 2 (2008)

By Orson Scott Card, so I haven't read it.

Ultimate Origins (2008)

An occasionally interesting flashback trawl through Ultimate universe history (it has some present-day stuff, but those bits are mostly boring) whose main contributions to the mythos are to reveal that Nick Fury and Wolverine were colleagues during WW2 who were later experimented on as part of attempts to recreate the Steve Rogers experiment, experiments which in Logan's case led to the creation of the mutant gene. Oh, and Peter Parker's parents were killed during Bruce Banner's first transformation into the Hulk. There's actually some interesting stuff here, but coming as it does just before Ultimatum, it all rather feels a bit pointless.

Ultimatum (2009)

It's tough to decide whether Ultimates 3 or Ultimatum is the true nadir. I veer towards this, because (a) Finch's art is so unpleasant (it's technically good, but just so dark and angry it's unbearable), (b) Loeb's not even trying to be funny and (c) it's one of the worst examples of "stuff just keeps happening for no reason other than the author wanted this scene to be there" plotting I've ever seen. It's ghastly. It's wretched. It disrespects everything - good and bad - that had come before it in its universe. It's the kind of comic that should never be allowed to happen again.

Ultimatum: Requiem (2009)

Two one-shots and a two-parter, wrapping up the relevant eras of Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man respectively. The former two are passable, but vaguely relevant to the dissolution of their teams; the latter, which sees J. Jonah Jameson recanting his negative views of Spidey, is fantastic, but also a complete con, since it's predicated on the notion of Peter being dead, which he... isn't.

The irony is that the haircut they give him actually makes his head even rounder.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man (2009-2011)

Aside from being part of a general post-Ultimatum relaunch, there was no real need for USM to reset its numbering - which might be why it reverted as soon as it hit #150. But it did feel like a fresh new era, with David Lafuente's lively and contemporary art, and an entertaining new setup with Peter, Gwen, Bobby Drake and Johnny Storm all living under one roof. Shortly after the numbering switched back came the Death of Spider-Man arc. And yeah, that was pretty great, too. Sniff.

Ultimate Comics: Avengers (2009)

Millar's surprise return to the Ultimate books, doing something that's kind-of-but-not-really his own Ultimates 3. It's not bad, actually, with a nice twist on the Red Skull and a bit more development of Ultimate Cap than the Mostly An Arsehole portrayal in the previous volumes. Very solid work from Carlos Pacheco on art, too.

Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars (2009)

Hooray, an Ultimate Iron Man book that's actually readable! And even better, it's by Warren Ellis, who's perfectly suited to the character when in this mood. This is a good story, snappily told - and bonus points for the London scenes, even if artist Steve Kurth does fall back on including old-style Routemasters (and the wrong BBC logo).

Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2 (2010)

The second of Millar's three miniseries, a bit weaker than the first (despite having the excellent Leinil Yu onboard) for two reasons. Firstly, Ghost Rider just doesn't really fit into the Ultimate Universe; and secondly, Tyrone Cash (the "first Hulk") is quite possibly the worst character Millar has ever created.

Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates (2010)

On the surface of it, nowhere near as bad as Loeb's Ultimates 3 (and actually finally explains some of the unexplained nonsense of that series, such as Valkyrie). But by gum, it still has a lot wrong with it, from the opening scene where Loeb continues to publicly grieve for his son, to the absolutely catastrophic gender politics that mean the entire story can be boiled down to "The women are all bad". The relentless obsession with superheroes shagging each other continues unabated, leading to the quite frankly ghastly scene where Thor is blackmailed into fathering a child with Hela (and yes, we see them doing the deed on-panel). Lovely Frank Cho art, though. In general, I mean, not that scene specifically.

Ultimate Comics: X (2010-2011)

The least awful thing that Loeb wrote for the Ultimate line by a comfortable margin. It's still not especially good, due to a really annoying storytelling trope where each issue is narrated by a supporting character, but their narration in the opening pages completely contrasts with what's seen on the page (something that can create a clever dissonance if used carefully, but absolutely isn't used carefully in this case). But in the actual story itself, there's nothing too horrendous, so let's give him that. Was meant to set up a new status quo where Jean Grey (in her Karen Grant identity) led a SHIELD-backed group of covert newly-discovered mutants (and, er, the Hulk); but because Art Adams drew it, it took so long to come out (five issues between February 2010 and June 2011) that the team wasn't fully set up until just before the next relaunch, so only got to be used sparingly.

... M'lady.

Ultimate Comics: Doomsday (Ultimate Enemy/Mystery/Doom) (2010-2011)

Not entirely sure why these three miniseries were separated out, since they have the same writer/artist team (Bendis and Rafa Sandoval) and tell one big story, which is basically "Ultimate Reed Richards goes evil". Amusingly, he basically does so because of being dumped by Sue, making the whole thing essentially the tale of a fedora-wearing MRA.

Ultimate Comics: Thor (2010)

Thor's origin finally gets told by Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco - and pretty well, to boot. This jumps around three flashback time periods, the latest being the time leading up to the beginning of The Ultimates, and ties together the "actual Norse god" and "European super-soldier initiative" questions once and for all. A good, solid read.

Ultimate Comics: Avengers 3 (2011)

A story about Blade and vampires (with a bit of Daredevil lore mixed in) that feels even more incongruous than the Ghost Rider one. Even more incongruous? Steve Dillon drawing superheroes. But actually, this has some fun moments.

Ultimate Comics: Captain America (2011)

Jason Aaron introduces us to yet another "secret not entirely successful attempt to replicate the Rogers experiment done while he was missing", but this one has a slightly different angle, and is a reasonable exploration of Cap's god-fearing patriotism. But at the end of the day, it's still a story about Ultimate Cap, and Ultimate Cap is still kind of a dick.

Ultimate Comics: Avengers vs New Ultimates (2011)

Millar's final bow in the universe he helped create. Actually a pretty good "coming to a head" storyline with Fury's black ops ("Avengers") and Danvers' public team ("Ultimates") being set against one-another, but the irritating thing about it is that the Death of Spider-Man story crosses so unnecessarily into it. If you're following Ultimate Spider-Man, you need to be reading this series to see a crucial event; and if you're not, then all that happens is that all of a sudden Spider-Man pops up for an irrelevant cameo. The other irritating thing about it is Millar's characterisation of Carol, which is quite at odds with how she'd been in various other appearances.

Utimate Comics: Fallout (2011)

A bit all over the place, as it's trying to set up various things for the next (failed) attempt at a relaunch. But yes, Peter's funeral still makes me a bit weepy. And the significance of Miles Morales' first appearance shouldn't be undersold, of course.

Reed and Banner argue over which of them was turned into a bigger villain by later Ultimates books.

Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates (2011-2013)

Or, essentially, "Ultimates 5". Jonathan Hickman's run features some great character work and beautiful art from Esad Ribic, and is big on ideas; but it also ups the stakes a little too much, pushing things far beyond the "realistic" world the Ultimate universe was originally conceived as. There's also something quite distasteful about the way the entire destruction of most of Europe (the series actually, confusingly, never quite seems sure which bits, sometimes saying "Western", sometimes "Northern" and sometimes "Eastern") is so casually treated, while the devastation of Washington is seen as a much bigger deal. Sam Humphries then takes over for a run that, while featuring quite big shakeups to the UU's status quo, otherwise feels like a quite generic ongoing series, losing the "event" feel that Ultimates had tended to have as a miniseries. And then Joshua Hale Fialkov tries to cram about five years' worth of story into his six issue run, with the remit to apparently go as batshit mental as possible - culminating in a scene where Reed Richards cuts an Infinity Stone out of the brain of Tony Stark. Yyyyyeah.

Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye (2011)

A tie-in to Hickman's Ultimates that, rather frustratingly, needs to be read in parallel with it (essentially jumping from an issue of one series to an issue of the other) rather than standing alone. It's also annoying that the fictional South East Asian Republic just suddenly appears, with no explanation as to how it formed. But again, the character stuff is good, and essentially completes the rehabilitation of Ultimate Clint from the awful Jeph Loeb revamp.

Ultimate Comics: All-New Spider-Man (2011-2013)

In applying the core tenets of the Spider-Man myth to an entirely new character and story, Bendis somehow comes out with something that's possibly even better than his original USM run. The first year of this book is an absolute delight, as a familiar story plays out in fresh and surprising ways. Miles is immediately a great character - and immediately hugely distinct from Peter - and the whole book exudes excitement and likability, helped in no small part by Sara Pichelli's fantastic art. The series then gets rather unfortunately bogged down in the Ultimate-wide "Divided We Fall" crossover, but steers back on track after that with some pretty major plot developments and, finally, a great team-up story with a gang of new-and-old young characters (Miles, Jessica Drew, Cloak and Dagger and Bombshell). At a time when the Ultimate books were flagging badly, this was a reminder of just how good they could be.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men (2011-2013)

From huge potential, comes an ungodly mess. Nick Spencer's run threatens to get UXM back to the sort of thing it was doing in its best days - but after twelve issues of setting up various plot threads (including the apparent revivals of all of Professor X, Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Sinister/Apocalypse), he leaves the book, and basically none of them ever get resolved. Because when Brian Wood takes over, he concentrates on a nicely bleak and depressing story about Kitty Pryde, the de-powering of almost all mutants, and the formation of the "Utopia" reservation. But the series still suffers from a similar problem that afflicts the parallel Ultimates run: too many major developments seem to happen off panel, to be filled in only by recap pages. It's never explained, for example, how and why Jean Grey defected to, then took control of, Tian; nor why she basically becomes a supervillain. The general lack of both forward planning and eventual closure makes the series an incredibly frustrating read.

Ultimate Comics: Iron Man (2012)

Slightly nothingy mini about Iron Man, introducing the UU's version of "the Mandarin" (actually an Asian corporation rather than an individual) but without doing anything especially interesting. It also shifts the characterisation of Jim Rhodes far more towards the movie version than the somewhat dickish portrayal Millar had conceived.

Remember when Quesada said if they ever crossed over 616 and Ultimate it'd be a sign they'd run out of ideas? Not a bit of it.

Spider-Men (2012)

Miniseries by Miles Morales' creators Bendis and Pichelli in which the "real" Peter Parker and, er, Mysterio wind up in the Ultimate Universe for a while. And it's spectacular. So much fun, completely lovely, and a perfect tribute to both the Peter and Miles versions of Spidey that totally nails why they work both together and individually. It's this very book that makes me worry less about what it's going to be like having Miles in the main Marvel Universe after Secret Wars.

Ultimate Comics: Wolverine (2013)

A largely inconsequential but reasonably decent miniseries that switches between flashbacks of Wolverine in the past (where, confusingly, he works for SHIELD) and his son Jimmy Hudson in the present, to give us a bit more of their shared backstory. Perhaps the most notable thing about it is the fact that hilariously, they make sure to give Magda (Jimmy, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's mother) the same ridiculously enormous breasts she'd had back in Ultimates 3. Oh, and the second most notable thing is that the very last page is literally the only time we ever see Jimmy with the yellow Wolverine costume that had first been shown on the cover of Ultimate X-Men issues two years earlier. And even then, he doesn't actually wear it.

Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand (2014)

Preceded by Hunger, a miniseries that is essentially its first chapter and whose main contribution (aside from actually bringing Galactus to the Ultimate U) is killing off the generally sorely under-used Mahr Vehl. Then when Cataclysm proper starts, we have a main miniseries and three "satellite" books about Spider-Man, X-Men and the Ultimates. Bendis writes the former two, and Fialkov the latter two. The main series is decent enough, as a culmination of much that had gone on previously (even though you can tell Bendis is a bit awkwardly fitting in every crazy development that Ultimates had had to offer), while the Spidey book is just essentially three further issues of Miles' title. Fialkov, meanwhile, spends his two books largely setting things up for his Ultimate FF to follow, but the newly-created "Howling Commandos" are a pretty uninteresting group of characters.

You're telling me.

Ultimate FF (2014)

A continuation of the sort of thing Fialkov was doing with his Ultimates run, complete with a strange obsession with somehow redeeming Ultimate Reed Richards. This starts off with the intent of being a madcap, entertaining futurist book - but quickly descends into a spectacular clusterfuck. It's obscenely messy, the art is dreadful, the characterisation is nowhere, and it's often downright offensive, particularly when it makes the entire story (and, apparently, the fate of the earth) hinge on "who Sue decides to have a baby with". Still, I'd applaud it for solving the continuity screw-up of Doctor Doom being the villain at the end of Ultimatum, were it not for the solution being that... it was Johnny and Sue's mother, instead. Honestly, this is probably the worst Ultimate book since Loeb - but at least it's short.

All-New Ultimates (2014-15)

What should have been (and was pitched by its covers as) a cool, exciting new series about a bunch of teen characters that had worked together so well in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man is instead a baffling misfire. Instead of being modern and forward-looking, it instead seems intent on going for an '80s/'90s kind of feel - as exemplified by face-painted street gang villains that look like they've arrived from a Schumacher Batman film. The characterisation is wonky, the dialogue sounds just like a thirtysomething man trying and failing to write teenagers, and it even undoes all the good work of being a book with a predominantly female cast by putting them in a swimsuit issue. Writer Michel Fiffe was hugely inexperienced - this was his first non-self-published work - so it maybe can't all be pinned on him, but it doesn't half show.

Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man (2014-15)

An unusual run, that suffers somewhat from the line as a whole being truncated - meaning that major plot developments such as the apparent return of Peter Parker never really get adequately explored or explained. The closing issues, meanwhile, see Bendis trying to tell a story (and fill in a load of backstory) about SHIELD, Hydra and Miles' father that you suspect was meant to play out over a much longer period. Despite this, individual issues are still good, but it's a slightly unfulfilling end to things.

Ultimate End (2015)

Well, this is only two issues in, so far - and actually, Marvel threw a curve ball by having the actual end of the UU take place suddenly at the beginning of Secret Wars, so Ultimate End instead takes place on a merged "Battleworld". But it's been... quite fun, so far? We'll have to wait and see, however, whether the Ultimate Universe actually gets a bow properly and neatly tied on it, or if we really have seen the last of it with a somewhat underwhelming set of post-Cataclysm relaunches.
And that's the Ultimate Universe, in full. Some truly great comics in its early days, before being padded out with a fair amount of unnecessary additional miniseries and crossovers. It's fair to say the line never really recovered from Ultimatum, which can be seen in retrospect as a misguided attempt to acknowledge that an excess of continuity had moved the imprint away from its original purpose, and shift instead towards telling unusual stories that couldn't take place in the main Marvel universe. The problem is that it took fully two years for Hickman to come onboard and start to realise that approach: and by then, the majority of readers had been put off by just how awful Jeph Loeb's contributions had been.

As a follower of the line, it's clear that Cataclysm would have been the perfect place to end it - there are still a handful of good books post-Ultimatum that are worth keeping, but the final roll of the dice (All New Ultimates, Ultimate FF and Miles Morales) failed miserably, and once the Ultimates and SHIELD had been finally done away with it felt like the true end of the story.


But if nothing else, its legacy will be in giving us fifteen years of generally superb Spider-Man stories; the creation of Miles Morales, a character that will surely far outlast his creators; and the undeniable influence on the Marvel Studios films. For the most part (even when the comics weren't always great) it's been enjoyable to watch this strange, offshoot line grow, build, stumble and finally wind down. It's very probable we won't see anything like it again.

I wish, however, that someone at Marvel would finally address the fact that "Ultimate" means "last" and not "best".