For the past 15 years, the "Ultimate" universe has been a consistent and important part of Marvel Comics publishing, serving as both a place for creators to develop new versions of classic characters and a place for new fans to jump into reimagined origin stories. We know now that Marvel will be ending the Ultimate Universe, as well as the main Marvel Universe as we know it, with the reality incursion that kicks off its Secret Wars event this spring, and now we know when we'll see Ultimate Marvel's curtain call. Back in 2000, Ultimate Marvel began with two creators, and now it will end with the same team: Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley.
Marvel announced Wednesday that Bendis and Bagley, who teamed up for a 111-issue run on Ultimate Spider-Man -- the book that kicked off the Ultimate Universe -- will re-team for Ultimate End, a miniseries that will chronicle the final days of Ultimate Marvel as that universe braces for Secret Wars. The series remains very shrouded in secrecy for the moment, but Bendis promised that it's going to be much more than a Secret Wars tie-in.
"What you're getting here is the first announcement past 'Secret Wars.' What you're going to get a sense of from here on out is that these are not tie-ins in the traditional sense. These are very important pieces of the Marvel Universe and for these characters. The tie-ins themselves are actually an event unto themselves. This would be it's own event if there wasn't a 'Secret Wars.' These are gigantic stories and very important, and what comes out the other side is going to be different," Bendis said. "These series are setting you up and letting you know what pieces are coming out the other side. That's what I think this first storyline represents. Look how big this is; this is the end of something gigantic we've been working on for fifteen years... This isn't the craziest thing that's going to happen."
For a little while, it seemed the Ultimate Universe was due to meet its end in the Cataclysm event that kicked off in late 2013, but the characters of the universe managed to escape that particular catastrophe. Now, they can't escape Secret Wars. We don't yet know what will happen to each of the Ultimate characters, including breakout original stars from that universe like Spider-Man Miles Morales, but Bendis did promise "closure," comparing the work on Ultimate End to writing the end of a television series while being well aware that it's your final season.
"I knew for a while [that 'Secret Wars' was coming] which was very freeing and allowed me to make a bucket list for the whole universe," Bendis said. "And I wanted to tell the Peter story. I wanted to do the crossover with the X-Men. We've been getting them all done. The story we're telling with Miles Morales will tie into 'Secret Wars' and tie up a lot of really big pieces with the Ultimate chronology. You're going to get legitimate closure with a lot of characters. It's very rare that you get this opportunity to wrap it up. It's like television, when you get a final season. That's how I've been writing 'Miles Morales'... Will you see Peter in 'Ultimate End'? Yes you will."
Ultimate End will debut alongside Secret Wars in May. Check out Bagley's cover for the first issue below.