The Ultimate Beginning


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In the early issues of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, Bruce Banner told the Ultimate version of Spider-Man that “It’s all connected.” Then the Army arrived and he turned into the Hulk, a green Hulk who acted much like the regular Marvel Hulk, and leapt away.

Several months later, in the pages of The Ultimates, the Hulk returned. Only, this time he was gray and nastier—cannibalistic even.   It was quite a shocking change from the last time we saw him.  

These two things—Banner’s statement and the Hulk’s change in behavior and appearance—raised a lot of questions with fans of the Ultimate line. It appears that these questions will be answered this week in Ultimate Origins.

The Ultimate universe got its start in 2000 with the publication of Ultimate Spider-Man #1. This was the first of a whole line of titles designed to be accessible to new readers. Gone were the almost 40 years of continuity their mainstream Marvel books had. While they featured the same famous Marvel characters, the Ultimate books began fresh and new and different from the original whenever they could.

The Ultimate universe became extremely popular. If you need proof of its impact, look no farther than the Marvel movie output of the last few years. Many plot threads in those movies got their start in the Ultimate line of comics.

Of course, over the years as the line grew and expanded, the universe became more complex and labyrinthine. The world of the Ultimate Marvel became defined in such titles as Ultimate X-Men, Ultimates, Ultimate Fantastic Four and other various and sundry miniseries.

A shared continuity started to develop. Characters would crossover to other books and share adventures with other Ultimate heroes. The various titles became interconnected.

But there is a connection here that is deeper than just being in a shared universe. The introduction of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. and concepts such as the Secret Soldier Serum and the Weapon X Program hinted at a massive conspiracy going on beyond the scenes.

How far does this conspiracy go? That is what Ultimate Origins is going to tell us. The series will span all the way from World War II to the present day and promise to show all the nefarious connections in the Ultimate Universe.

How is Nick Fury connected to Wolverine? We’ll find out. How is Captain America connected to both of them? We’ll find out. What is Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk’s connection to all of them? We’ll find out.

And we will find out what Banner meant by “It’s all connected.” Is there some shadowy connection between the alter humans of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and the mutants of the X-Men? Are their random origins somehow related? We’ll find that out, too.

This series won’t just clarify the past and present of the Ultimate, but also set the stage for its future. Ultimate Origins leads directly into the Ultimatum crossover, the line-wide event that will crossover into each Ultimate book.

The Ultimate universe has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a new reader-friendly alternative to the mainstream Marvel universe. Some might say that it has grown as big and unwieldy as its big brother. But this series might just give the Ultimate universe a sense of unity and cohesiveness the original could never attain. And that would be something to see.

Also out this week:

Trinity #1:

DC is back with its third weekly series in three years. This time, there is no one year gap to explain (as there was with 52) or a big summer event to count down to (like there was with, naturally, Countdown). But we do have the awesome team of Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, marking a reuniting of the team that made Thunderbolts one of Marvel’s best books. And the cast is DC’s Big Three—Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

But will that be enough? Countdown lost a third of its readership over its year. And most of the people who kept with the series seemed to do so just to complain about it. I have no doubt that Trinity will be an entertaining book, but will people be willing to keep spending $12 a month on it? That is what remains to be seen.  

Kurt Busiek (W), Mark Bagley (A), DC Comics, $2.99.  Ongoing Series.

The Amory Wars II #1:

The epic Amory Wars tale took up five CD’s of Coheed and Cambria’s catalog, so it seems natural that only one Image mini series would not be big enough to contain it. It wasn’t, so now C&C frontman Claudio Sanchez provides us with a sequel to continue the story.

Coheed and Cambria Kilgallon are confronted by the enormous power of Admiral Vielar Crom. Will their new found abilities be strong enough to make it a fight? Will the Prise’s terrible sacrifice be in vain? And what is the secret power source Supreme Tri-Mage Wilhelm Ryan will use for his ultimate weapon? Find out all these answers here. 

Claudio Sanchez (W), Gabriel Guzman (A), Image Comics, $2.99.  Five-Issue Miniseries.


Foo Swee Chin’s last work was called Nightmares & Fairy Tales. That title conjures up imagery that is dark and bittersweet, wild and full of melancholy. This could also very well describe this, her latest work, which appears to be in the same vein.

muZz is the place where the secret hopes and dreams of humans go when a person dies.  It is also the destination of the train our young hero finds herself on. She wakes on the train, not knowing how she got there, and not remembering anything about her history. Is she a dream, like many of the strange and fascinating creatures sharing the train ride? Or is she a human there by mistake? The answer lies in her journey.

Foo Swee Chin (W/A), Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics, $14.95. Original Graphic Novel.

Wolverine: Dangerous Game:

Once again, Wolverine stars in a comic inspired by Richard Connell’s 1924 short story, “The Most Dangerous Game.” The 2006 miniseries Claws featured a similar premise—a group of hunters chose Wolverine and the Black Cat for their quarry. But this time, there’s a twist.

Wolverine isn’t the hunted this time, just someone who’s helping the hunted. A group of British aristocrats have brought the sport of fox hunting to the U.S. after bloodsports such as that are banned in their native UK. But the fox has Wolverine in his corner, and the hunters soon find themselves the hunted.

This issue also features a backup story from Rick Remender and Jerome Opena.

Simon Spurrier & Rick Remender (W), Ben Oliver & Jerome Opena (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One Shot.

Manhunter #31:

Manhunter is a cult favorite series. While it doesn’t have great sales, it does have a loyal and vocal fanbase. The series has been on the brink of cancellation again and again but avoided it every time. Now it’s back for another chance at life. Of course, there is not a lot of fanfare at DC trumpeting its return, so this might turn out to be a quickly ended last chance.

Kate Spencer is faced with the disappearance of hundreds of women along the Mexican border, an event that piques her interest both as a District Attorney and as the costumed Manhunter. But before she can get to the bottom of this mystery, she must first deal with some unfinished business with the Justice Society of America.

Marc Andreyko (W), Michael Gaydos (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Twilight Crusade: The Envoy #1:

The battle between Heaven and Hell continues for another week as Moonstone’s Twilight Crusade event continues. This time, it focuses on the mysterious character known as the Envoy.

Louis Trent was a hitman and he was good at his job. He killed without a moments hesitation and without an ounce of remorse. That created a demand for his services and soon he was living the high-life.  So, it is ironic that he would lose his life doing the only good deed he ever did—saving a kid from certain death.

This good act kept him from an afterlife of eternal damnation, but also forced him into eternal servitude. He’s gone back to his job as an assassin, but now he has only one client, Heaven itself. 

Gary Phillips (W), Sergio Mulko (A), Moonstone Books, $3.99.  One-Shot.

Tales from Wonderland: Mad Hatter #1:

Zenescope has built a company out of offering skewered looks at classic fairy tales we all know and love. Of course, these new looks at children’s stories aren’t for kids. These have been updated for today and are aimed squarely at adults. This week, the Mad Hatter gets reinterpreted according to Zenescope’s status quo.

A hero faces an awesome challenge. He must keep his sanity in a world that is dedicated to driving him insane. But our hero soon learns that sometimes the only way to win is just to give in. The only way to defeat madness is to become mad yourself. Yes, this is the origin of the man who calls himself the Mad Hatter.

Ralph Tedesco (W), Joe Dodd (A), Zenescope Entertainment Inc., $3.99.  One-Shot.

Tales from the Starlight Drive-In:

The Starlight Drive-In has seen a lot of stories in its 50 years, both on the screen and off. This graphic novel tells only 32 of them. There are tales of romance and violence, westerns and science fiction, musicals and dramas, real life often times mirroring what is seen on the screen.

These 32 stories come together to form one complete novel which takes us on a journey through time with one magical Drive-In as our tether. The trip ends in a powerful and shocking finale that you won’t soon forget. So let Michael San Giacomo and 23 artists from around the world be your guide on this mystical trip.

Michael San Giacomo (W), Various (A), Image Comics, $19.99.  Original Graphic Novel.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.


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