September 4, 2012
Review by From the Booth‘s own Ken
Marvel’s Ultimate Universe was originally conceived as a separate line of books which would free writers from the 50+ years of continuity that many of their most popular characters were weighed down by. Brian Michael Bendis, who currently writes most of the best Marvel books out now, has written the anchor book for that universe, Ultimate Spider-Man continuously since that book’s first volume. When the first Ultimate universe was drawing to a close, Jeph Loeb and David Finch were asked to write just about the only cross-over to occur in the Ultimate Universe. The series would deal with Magneto causing a giant wave to hit New York, which would have major effects across all the titles.
Ultimatum ties in Spider-Man, the Ultimates, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men as they deal with the fallout from the wave and the hunt for revenge against the man who caused it. Along the way, major characters die. Some go in the heat of battle and others die off-panel. It’s a treatment of the characters that could only be written in an alternate universe but its all the more heart wrenching for those who followed Ultimate X-Men for 100 issues and Ultimate Spider-Man for 160. It also is a good jumping on point for those who would want a primer of how the current Ultimate Universe came to be.
The art in the book is detailed and really shines in showing the scale of the devastation from the Ultimatum Wave. All the character models look as they should which is sometimes a problem when a book crosses over so many titles. The writing is epic even if some characters die with little explanation. The book was probably too short at only five issues; it likely could have been easily expanded to 8. The trail to the final showdown is littered with the bodies of Marvel heavyweights and the ultimate battle is illustrated by beautiful yet violent full page panels.
Although the book was greeted with fairly universal negative reviews (according to Wikipedia), I thought the only issue with the book is it tended to gloss over a large portion of the deaths. The fact that major characters could be given up for dead after drowning in the wave was a bold move by Loeb but clearly not appreciated by some fans. The book is shocking in its violence, which was also not appreciated by everyone, but I found it suitable given the gravity of the situation. Also, I’m not particularly bothered by graphic violence in comic books in general. If you bought into the hype and didn’t read this book the first time around, it might be worth a second look.