The original architects of the Ultimate Marvel Universe return fifteen years after they started the whole thing to sing its swan song in Ultimate End #1.  Let’s find out just how well they do.

Before we get into this review too deeply, I just wanted to start off by saying that seeing this mini-series and its title is kind of sad for me.  Fifteen years ago, Marvel’s Ultimate line was the main reason that I became a serious comic collector, and over the years this imprint has greatly entertained me with some truly amazing stories.  I stuck with it through the nearly catastrophic Ultimatum storyline, as well as the much more recent Cataclysm event, so it does somewhat tug at my heart strings to see it coming to what seems to be a definite end.

*wipes away nerd tear*

Ok, back to business.  In this mini-series tie-in to Secret Wars, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley set out to tell what is shaping up to be the last story of Earth-1610, otherwise known as the Ultimate Marvel Universe.  The timeline of how this story fits into the larger back drop of the Secret Wars event is a little fuzzy, but due to certain occurrences, it definitely seems to be happening after the incursion event seen in Secret Wars #1.  We see a group of Earth-1610 heroes meeting with their Earth-616 counterparts to discuss how to “fix” the rift in space-time that has been created and allows them to be in the same room with their alternate universe selves.

Bendis writes this issue in his typical comedic fashion.  As the only person to write the character of Ultimate Spider-Man (be it Ultimate Peter Parker, or Miles Morales) for more than a decade, he has perfected the art of smartass dialogue, and the comedic wit is on display in this issue.  He certainly seems to be much more comfortable writing the Ultimate versions of the characters, as their dialogue is more loose and witty than that of the Regular Marvel U heroes here.  And while that (and another artistic aspect that I’ll get into in a moment) make it easier to distinguish which version of a character we’re reading, it doesn’t really keep this story from being a bit confusing.  A little more backstory would have been appreciated.  And as I mentioned in my review for Secret Wars: Battleworld #1, it’s clear that Battleworld is the new status quo, but does no one remember the way things were prior to this point?

Mark Bagley’s art is just as good as it’s always been.  I’m so used to seeing his style in the Ultimate Universe, which makes it a little awkward to see it applied to the Regular Marvel U characters.  Earth-616 Black Widow comes off looking sort of like a short haired version of Earth-1610 Mary Jane in a catsuit, which as fun a notion as that is to entertain, is also slightly distracting from the overall story.  But again, minor nit-picky issues in what was otherwise a solid outing for a near-legendary comic artist.

Now, to what I alluded to earlier, I really appreciate the decision to use a different lettering depending on which version of a character is speaking, otherwise this issue could have been INCREDIBLY confusing to read.  For instance, in this issue when Earth-616 characters are talking, they have the traditional blocky comic all caps lettering, while when Earth-1610 characters are speaking, they have a more modern lettering with upper and lower case letters that has been used in the Ultimate Marvel books for some time.  The difference makes it immediately apparent which version of a hero or villain is talking, and it’s one of the best decisions Marvel made with this event.

To be completely honest, I’m actually right on the fence with this issue.  Parts of it are really confusing, and so far the story is not terribly interesting, but my faith in the creators and the hope that they will give the Ultimate line the ending it deserves is causing me to lean more positive for this one.

The Verdict for Ultimate End #1:
I can dig it

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Upcoming reviews:
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
Planet Hulk #1 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Old Man Logan #1 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Where Monsters Dwell #1 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Wytches #1-#6


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