Ultimate Universe #1 Cover Cropped

Marvel Comics’ New Ultimate Universe, Explained

Marvel Comics‘ recent announcement of a new Ultimate Universe led to confusion regarding the original Ultimate Comics line. First published in 2000, the Ultimate Marvel comics were intended to offer an easy access point for new readers. The new Ultimate line will fill a similar purpose, being set in a new universe created by Jonathan Hickman.

How the New Ultimate Universe Connects to the Original

Ultimate Universe The Maker

The original Ultimate Universe was designated Earth-1610. It was seemingly destroyed in 2015 as part of the Secret Wars storyline. Some characters from Earth-1610 survived to be integrated into the main Marvel Universe, aka Earth-616. These included Miles Morales and Ultimate Reed Richards, the latter of whom went mad with power and became the villain known as the Maker.

The Maker was imprisoned on Earth-616, but escaped to another universe during the Ultimate Invasion event. Armed with advanced knowledge of which superheroes were likely to arise on every Earth, the Maker changed the new world’s history. As a result, this new reality, Earth-6160, experienced a radically different history than any other dimension in the Marvel multiverse.

What Heroes Exist on Earth-6160?

Ultimate Invasion Clone Avengers Army

Thanks to the Maker, most of the first generation of superheroes never came to exist on Earth-6160. The spider that should have bitten Peter Parker was crushed before it got the chance. Thor was imprisoned as a traitor to Asgard, and the Bifrost destroyed. The Fantastic Four were never exposed to cosmic rays, and all of them save Reed Richards died.

The heroes that did come to power did so in an altered state, as willing subjects of the Maker. Bruce Banner, for instance, still became the Hulk. This Hulk, however, has mastered his rage, and leads an order of monks, the Children of Eternal Light, devoted to peace and serenity. This world also has an Iron Man, but it is Howard Stark, rather than Tony.

The New Ultimate Universe’s Nations, Explained

World Map of Earth-6160

Under the Maker’s influence, Earth-6160 has been divided into eight territories. The Maker himself rules the City, which is located in what was Latveria. His followers include this world’s versions of Hulk, Captain Britain, Colossus, Magik, Omega Red, Silver Samurai, Viper, Ra, Konshu, and Sunfire. The Maker also employs his own doppelganger, forcing Reed Richards to wear an iron mask modeled after that of Doctor Doom.

Following an attack by the Earth-6160 version of Kang, Howard Stark trapped the Maker in a stasis bubble. Reed Richards, who has taken on the name of Doctor Doom, escaped to tell the teenage Tony Stark of his father’s sacrifice. Having forged his own armor and taken the name Iron Lad, Tony teams with Doom. Together, they hope to build an army capable of fighting the Maker when he inevitably returns.

Ultimate Universe #1 details the beginnings of Tony and Reed’s efforts. They start by freeing Thor from his prison in Asgard, allying with his jailer, Lady Sif, and retrieving the frozen Captain America. Armed with a time machine constructed by Howard Stark, the new team can theoretically start putting right what the Maker made wrong.

The New Ultimate Universe Series, Explained

As of November 2023, three new Ultimate Universe series have been announced; Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Black Panther, and Ultimate X-Men. Little has been revealed about these books so far, but the action of Ultimate Universe #1 suggests certain developments. For instance, Ultimate Spider-Man is said to center around an older Peter Parker, who is married to Mary Jane Watson, and has two children. Given the events of Ultimate Invasion, this suggests that Spider-Man will be the first hero to have his history restored by Doom and Tony Stark.

The map of the new Ultimate Universe has a prominent area in the center of Africa listed as “Undiscovered Territory.” This seems likely to be Wakanda, suggesting the reclusive nation has remained a secret on Earth-6160. This sets the stage for Black Panther to be revealed.

Ultimate X-Men is the biggest mystery of all. Nothing has been said about the public existence of Mutants in the new Ultimate Universe, beyond urban legends of people with unusual powers. The new series will center around Hisako “Armor” Ichiki, as she comes to terms with her powers. Beyond that, it is anyone’s guess what the new Ultimate Universe might become.

Ultimate Universe #1 is now available at comic shops everywhere.