Ultimatum is easily the worst event, or even comic book I have ever read. Marvel’s Ultimate line was coming under criticism for a streak of laziness, taking mainline characters and simple Ultimizting them (reintroducing them with little-to-no change). To rejuvenate the properties, Marvel had the author of Ultimates 3 (the worst reviewed book in the line to date), Jeph Loeb, write a cataclysmic story that essentially reset the universe. Surely the man who had nearly every characterization wrong in his first book would get it all sorted out for the second (spoilers – no).
In earnest, the premise for Ultimatum is intriguing, and one that could only be done in the Ultimate universe, even though it pushes the bounds of a few pre-established concepts. Magneto, angered by the death of his daughter, the Scarlet Witch (in Ultimates 3), stole Thor’s hammer (this version can be wielded by anyone). He uses it to cause worldwide natural disasters, altering the magnetic poles, and creates a tsunami that hits Manhattan, the epicenter Marvel.
Again, interesting premise, except nearly every aspect of these characters, established over 8 years, was ignored. The story became about shock and death. Characters were removed from the table either temporarily or permanently in inane ways. At least the art, from David Finch, was good, and it only lasted 5 issues.
Sue Storm, after using her force shield to push the water from the city, fell into a coma. The Thing stayed by her bedside. Cap was knocked unconscious and Valkyrie was killed. Thor went to Hel, battling through Hela’s army to rescue her, and happened to find Cap there and rescued him too. Beast, Dazzler and Nightcrawler drowned. Spidey worked with Hulk to rescue people, but after Doctor Strange’s house blew up, he was presumed dead, as was Strange. Magneto murdered Professor X, and Emma Frost was blown up by suicide bomber Jamie Madrox. Here’s my favorite one, Hank Pym searched the city frantically, looking for Janet (the Wasp), only to find the Blob eating her. Pym, enraged, grew to giant size, snatching up Blob and biting his head off. Yep.
Stuff happened, but honestly, it’s not worth remembering. The remaining heroes launched an assault on Magneto’s floating citadel after Xavier’s death. Sabretooth kills Angel immediately and eats him, and Magneto kills Wolverine (more death!). Nick Fury arrives and Jean Grey shares Fury’s memories with Magneto, showing him that mutants were manufactured by the government (with Wolverine as the first mutant), not made from evolution. Magneto repents, fixing the magnetic poles and such, and Cyclops kills him.
The epilogue showed Cyclops making a speech in Washington D.C., imploring Congress not to pass some anti-mutant bill. He was assassinated by Quicksilver, though no one saw him. And the Thing went to Latveria, killing Doom.
One of the best bits to come out of the series was Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem. The two part story focused on Peter’s friends and family, with the most touching one coming from J. Jonah Jameson. Until this point, JJ was akin to his mainline counter part, irrationally hating Spidey. Here, JJ saw Spidey selflessly help as many as he could during the crisis. Since then, he’s supported Spider-Man, a change that’s still in effect today. This is one of my favorite elements from USM.
The other two Ultimate books, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate X-Men had requiem issues. All three series (USM included), were cancelled following the event, though USM quickly launched a second volume with little changing, along side a handful of other new Ultimate books.
Ultimatum was a mess. The story was a disservice to everything that came before. Rather than telling a good story, this centered on bloody sensationalism. Deaths are fine, and honestly, there were a few too many characters running around at the time. But did we need three incidents of cannibalism?
Suffer through this like I did? Is Jeph Loeb the Ulimates ultimate undoer? Comment below!