The Ultimate universe is once again alive and well in Marvel Comics thanks to the latest issue of Spider-Men II. Not long ago, word broke that Brian Michael Bendis is heading to DC Comics after a long and prolific career with Marvel. Along with Jim Starlin leaving Marvel, the moment was one of the biggest creative exits from comics in years. Luckily, Bendis has been spending his remaining time with the company continuing to flesh out his creations and spin new yarns that will set up tales to come for the future.
One of the biggest projects Bendis has been working on is Spider-Men II, which heavily deals with his creation Miles Morales and his new life in the main Earth-616 universe. Originally, Miles spun out of Marvel’s Ultimate imprint, which launched in 2000 in an effort to retell popular stories for a new generation of readers. The universe would go on to heavily influence the MCU, but was ended along with the rest of the Multiverse during 2015’s Secret Wars. In the aftermath of the event, characters like Miles and the Maker (the evil Reed Richards of the Ultimate universe) joined Earth-616. But it seems that the rest of the parallel world survived in some form as well.
The final issue of Spider-Men II continues Bendis’ story of Peter Parker and Miles hunting down the Earth-616 version of Miles Morales. While we won’t ruin most of the arc, things eventually progress to the 616 Miles finding a way to a parallel world where his wife is still alive. Once there, we get a glimpse into the world where Peter Parker is alive and still operating as Spider-Man. What’s more, the Ultimates still exist too.
The Ultimates were another flagship title for the new imprint, retelling the story of the Avengers in a manner that would eventually inform the MCU’s take on the team. In time, the group would see versions of Captain America, Thor (with an axe), a gray Hulk, a Spider-Woman who was a clone, Peter Parker, and Giant Man. Both Spider-Men would also serve on the team, and it seems the current version of the Ultimate universe has them all working together.
They all come in when the Ultimate Green Goblin attacks, mirroring the death of Peter Parker at the monster’s hands – which kicked off the birth of Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man. Even more exciting, the current team also has a version of RiRi ‘Ironheart’ Williams, a Bendis creation from the Earth-616 universe. If nothing else, Bendis has used Spider-Men II to establish that every one of his characters have a counterpart in both the 616 and Ultimate universe.
Marvel Legacy #1 finally showed us that the Richardses were off in the cosmos rebuilding the Multiverse after the events of Secret Wars. Like the Ultimates and their universe, there’s no telling when Reed, Sue, Franklin, and Valeria will return to Marvel Comics, but Spider-Men II proves that many of Bendis biggest and best stories still have a future.