Road to Ultimatum
Last week, Marvel released a free comic enitlted March on Ultimatum Saga, a basic guide to the history of the Ultimate Marvel Earth and its heroes. Although one or two of the facts reported are in question (as I discussed in my article Where Have All The Editors Gone?), it is an appropriate release when you consider that the Ultimate Marvel titles are supposed to suffer a dramatic change as a result of the crossover Ultimatum.
But in case you missed out on this issue, don’t worry. Marvel has put it up as a digital comic on their website. So if you’re a paid subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, this issue is just a few clicks away.
Didn’t read the story arc featuring Ultimate Carnage? Missed out on what’s been revealed so far in Ultimate Origins?Curious where the heck Ultimate Nick Fury disappeared to? The answers are all there.
ComicBookResources.com has also posted preview pages of Ultimate Origins #5, which will lead into Ultimatum.
Ultimatum #1, written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by David Finch, will be on sale the first week of November. If you missed out on the free comic and don’t feel like paying for the online subscription, here’s a quick rundown of just a couple of the recent major events that you should be aware of.
This crossover revolves around Magneto. In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Magneto is a more sadistic character. Not content with simply ruling over humanity, he actually has attempted to wipe out the human race and all connections to it, such as establishing a mutant alphabet called Epsilon-Omega.
In the Marvel Universe, the Brotherhood of Mutants has always been a small group of a handful of mutant terrorists. In the Ultimate Universe, Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants is an army of followers. He is also powerful enough to actually lift Thor’s hammer and take out a squadron of sentinel robots and reprogram them all by his lonesome. We’re talking a one-man global threat here, folks.
Recently, Magneto was seen in Ultimates 3, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Joe Maduriera. During this story, it was revealed that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Magneto’s children who defected from his cause, were involved in an incestuous relationship. Soon afterward, the Scarlet Witch was killed by an unseen assassin and the grief-stricken Quicksilver returned to his father’s cause. Magneto took in Wanda’s body and was determined to do whatever it took to find his daughter’s killer, even if it meant warring on the whole world.
Eventually, it was revealed that the Scarlet Witch had been killed by a group of robots created by Hank Pym, robots who had been replacing members of the Ultimates and who decided that if they could tick off Magneto by attacking his daughter, then this would start a human/mutant war.
During a battle with the Ultimates, Magneto was targeted by Hawkeye. Quicksilver then moved in front of the bullet/arrow and was killed. Realizing his life had been saved by a son he had frequently mistreated and abused, Magneto said "For what they have done, they will pay the ultimate price."
He’s been missing since then, but whatever he has planned is not good. And to prepare us for this oncoming war, Marvel released Ultimate Origins, which showed us how super-humans began appearing on this version of Earth. It was all because of Project: Rebirth, intended to create a super-soldier.
An early version of the super-soldier serum gave WW II soldier Nick Fury retarded aging and increased vitality. Decades later, Fury would rejoin the military and later be appointed director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Also during World War II, a human soldier named James Howlett was experimented on by a Canadian project called Weapon X, which intended to turn him into a super-soldier. But something unforeseen happened and Howlett developed a mutated genetic trait which was labeled the "X-gene." It is realized that this gene will begin to spread that it has been created and that in years to come, there will be more and more people born with random mutations. James Howlett is labeled "Mutant Zero."
Later, a perfected version of the super-soldier serum made Steve Rogers into Captain America. But with the lead scientist murdered almost immediately afterward, the serum was lost. As for Mutant Zero, he was freed many years later by teenager Erik Lensherr, whose own mother worked on the Weapon X Project. A mutant born with powers over magnetism, Lensherr killed his mother and allowed Howlett to go off on his own. His memory gone, Howlett began calling himself "Logan" or "Wolverine." As Lensherr grew up, he gave himself the name Magneto to cut off all connection from his human identity and he began his crusade for mutant dominance, creating the Savage Land with Charles Xavier as a safe haven for mutants until the time was right for them to rise.
In the decades following World War II, there were constant attempts by governments and private labs to re-create the super-soldier serum or create a new off-shoot of it. This resulted in various super-humans, including Spider-Man, the Green Goblin, the Hulk, Electro, and many others.
These revelations finally explained Bruce Banner’s comments when he met Spider-Man years ago in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #2-3.
"Listen, it’s all connected. That’s it. That’s the secret. All of it – all of this – it’s all connected. You – Me – They don’t want you to figure it out. They don’t want you to know."
Is this connection foreshadowing that the Ultimate heroes and villains will be facing something that could wipe them all out entirely?
Of course, not everyone with super-powers owes their special genes to Project: Rebirth or Weapon X. Folks like the Fantastic Four, Thor and Doctor Doom all got their abilities via different sources. Could they be the ones who will be the deciding factors in the upcoming conflict?
In the modern-day sub-plot of Ultimate Origins, the Fantastic Four discovered a strange device/organism called a Watcher, part of a hive mind that records major world-changing events. A Watcher showed up the day Steve Rogers became Captain America and now hundreds of them are appearing world-wide, which certainly does not bode well.
As the Watcher, called Uatu, explains to the Fantastic Four:
"We have observed many critical moments in your recent history. Moments whose true meanings are about to converge with one another. The birth of heroes.The birth of a new species. Your species just now taking responsibility for the science it has discovered. All these plus so many more … We have witnessed this from not only your world but countless other worlds of similar design and model. And we now know that your devastation is coming."
Jeph Loeb will be writing Ultimatum and has stated that the crossover came out of discussions with Brian Michael Bendis and Joe Quesada. It has been said that Ultimatum is a story that could not be done in normal Marvel continuity and will seriously change the universe. Rumors abound on which titles will be canceled and which heroes may be slated to die. And there’s supposed to be a new series coming out afterward called Ultimate Avengers.
What’s Magneto planning? Will Doctor Doom factor into it? How will the world be changed when it’s managed to survive the coming of Gah Lak Tus? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler is still disappointed that Ultimate Black Panther was just Captain America in disguise. He has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets such as the New York Daily News as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the "Special Features" sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: http://KistlerUniverse.com. One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.