Marvel is revisiting one of its bigger gimmicks. According to Gizmodo, the comic book company is bringing back the Ultimate Universe, using the current ongoing storyline “Ultimate Invasion” to do it, which writer Jonathan Hickman teased back in February. If you’ve never heard of it, Ultimate Marvel was a project from the early 2000s where they retold and modernized the stories of their major heroes in a new continuity that ran alongside the main 616 Universe. The Ultimate Universe was very influential on the Marvel Cinematic Universe – this is where the Samuel L. Jackson version of Nick Fury came from, as well as the Chitauri and some of the costume designs from the movies – and it introduced Miles Morales, who took over as Spider-Man after Peter Parker died. In 2015, during the “Secret Wars” rehash, the Ultimate Universe was destroyed, with Miles Morales making it to the 616 Universe because they’re determined to force him into everything. But now, it’s coming back, starting with Ultimate Spider-Man.
I read some of the Ultimate Marvel comics when they first came out. I enjoyed it for a while; it was kind of a neat novelty, and while some of the changes were made just for the sake of it (“Jean Grey has short hair now BECAUSE WE CAN!”) and some were really dumb (Green Goblin was an actual monster who shot fireballs from his hands), there were some legitimately good stories, especially in Spider-Man and X-Men. But the sheen wore off fast, and it got a little silly and stale; I checked out before Miles Morales was a thing. Now, they’re bringing it back, and while Hickman swears up and down that there are artistic reasons for doing it, I’m convinced it’s a stunt to get readers back. I don’t think it’ll work very well; freshness isn’t the problem with comics right now, and I don’t see them going old school with Ultimate Marvel. It doesn’t say if Miles Morales will go back to the universe that spawned him, but YellowFlash says he won’t, which doesn’t surprise me. They’d relegate Peter Parker to the Ultimate Universe before Miles Morales. I have no interest in this, but it’s amusing to see the lengths they’re willing to go to to drum up business while insisting they’re doing great.