Marvel's Ultimate Universe ended a little less than 10 years ago with 2015's Secret Wars. But now, Secret Wars writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Bryan Hitch, who drew The Ultimates (the Ultimate Universe equivalent of the Avengers), are bringing the Ultimate Universe back this June in a four-issue limited series titled Ultimate Invasion, which Marvel bills as the start of "the transformation of the Marvel Universe."
For those who don't know, the Ultimate Universe was an alternate continuity based in a different world of Marvel's Multiverse in which well-known characters took on new origins and new adventures, with dozens of Marvel's most popular characters populating a whole spin-off comic line.
The Ultimate Universe and the core Marvel Universe have crossed over before, notably in two Spider-Men limited series which paired up Peter Parker and Miles Morales, before Miles was brought into the core Marvel Universe with the aforementioned Secret Wars. Now, it looks a lot like the denizens of the Ultimate Universe will be crossing over with a whole cast of mainstream Marvel heroes and villains, including Miles Morales and the Maker, a villainous version of Reed Richards who originated in the Ultimate reality.
The above promo art from the announcement, which was originally revealed through Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab), shows Hitch's renditions of the Ultimates crossing over with Miles Morales, the Maker, Tony Stark, Black Panther, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and Doctor Strange, many of whom were part of Marvel's Illuminati secret superhero society.
“[Revisiting the idea of Ultimate Comics] couldn’t be replicating or revisiting what Bryan did in the original Ultimates - creating a streamlined, modernized version that would eventually become the spine of the MCU, and it certainly couldn’t be what I did, which was a final chapter of a pre-existing universe,” Hickman tells Entertainment Weekly.
“We also thought the very idea of Ultimate Comics needed to be inverted from what the original universe was - we wanted this to be something that could really only exist in the comic space: a new way of thinking about, and enjoying, a new version of the Marvel Universe," he continues. "I’m pretty happy to say that it feels like we’ve accomplished those things and we’re very excited for everyone to get to read it.”
That seems to indicate that the revamped Ultimate Universe could be around to stay, perhaps even with a renewed line of alt-reality spin-off titles.
Here's a gallery of some unlettered interior pages from Ultimate Invasion:
“It’s been more than 20 years since I started work on The Ultimates, a project that would have a big impact on my own career and beyond, so when Marvel came to me with the idea of revisiting the Ultimate Universe with the man who so brilliantly and spectacularly destroyed the last one, I was both feet in!” adds Hitch.
“Jonathan is a terrific writer of big, sprawling epics, and we’ve talked about working together more than once so for this new Ultimate Universe adventure to unite us is very exciting," he states. "I get to bring two decades of new experience as an artist and storyteller to this. It’s new, different and familiar. It’s big budget, high-concept, widescreen storytelling. I feel right at home.”
It's unclear if this Ultimates revival is related to Jonathan Hickman's planned project with artist Valerio Schiti which was announced back in 2022, or if this is another aspect of Hickman's return to working with Marvel after some time in the creator-owned sphere.
Ultimate Invasion #1 goes on sale June 21.
Secret Wars is one of the best Marvel events of all time.