Ultimate Universe #1 Review: Here’s The Beef

ultimate universe #1 review header

The new Ultimate U is here in Ultimate Universe #1 from Marvel Comics. Written by Jonathan Hickman and art by Stefano Caselli, this one-shot sets the stage for the next year (or more) of books.

We reviewed the book on the Stack podcast. But in the interest of highlighting more about the title, here’s a summary of the conversation with our thoughts. And if you prefer the longer audio version, that’s below as well!

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Ultimate Universe #1 Review:

Picking up where Ultimate Invasion left off, Ultimate Universe #1 finds Tony Stark, aka Iron Lad, and Doctor Doom, aka Reed Richards, trying to repair the wreck The Maker (also Reed Richards) made of their version of the Marvel Universe. Confused? That’s okay. The easy-to-understand version is a bad guy has taken all the heroes of Marvel off the board. And the good guys want to get them back – starting with Thor.

Though our hosts generally liked the book and thought it was well made, looking at the bigger picture they weren’t sure what differentiated this version of the Ultimate Universe from the previous version.

“It still is unclear exactly what we’re doing here,” Justin Tyler said. “We get the Ultimate versions of the characters… The Thor especially reminded me of the back-in-the-day Ultimate Thor.”

Alex Zalben agreed, saying he was “surprised about this issue, I expected it to be more universe-wide… But instead, this feels like the first issue of Ultimate Avengers, more than anything… Jonathan Hickman is a meticulous planner, so I’m sure we will see this pay off somewhere down the road.” However, Zalben noted that given Marvel has announced titles for Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Black Panther and Ultimate X-Men, to not get any of that other than a preview of the latter “didn’t feel like a universe thing, so much.”

Tyler continued, saying, “There’s no grand gesture… We got these characters back again… There are just slight changes to all of them, which the word Ultimate is not… I’m surprised it’s not more of a swing.”

On the positive side and the issue specifically, Zalben clarified that “this is a good comic. Stefano Caselli is really good, he’s got the beefiest Thor I think I’ve ever seen in my life, so that was nice to see.”

Zalben also liked the mission the heroes are on in this book. The Maker saved relics from hundreds of superheroes, and now Iron Lad and Doctor Doom want to restore them.

Ultimate U 1.0 vs. Ultimate U 2.0

However, he felt it seemed more like an “alternate universe tale” than the “breath of fresh air” the Ultimate Universe was the first time it was introduced. Contrasting the two, Zalben called out that the original Ultimate Universe was “unencumbered with continuity. This is encumbered with continuity.”

Back to the issue in particular, though, Zalben added, “And by the way, just to be clear, if you are a comic book fan, this is a really well-made comic that I generally enjoyed. I am excited to see all these Ultimate Universe titles… But I don’t know if this is going to bring people into comics the same way that the [original] Ultimate Comics did.” I don’t think it’s necessarily going to set up like here’s the reboot of the MCU and 10 years that we want. And I don’t think that’s what Hickman is going for. He wants to write it. I think it’s interesting for him.”

Agreeing, Tyler said, “I enjoy reading this and I will continue to read this.”

Ultimate Universe #1 Official Synopsis:

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!

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