Ultimatum (Ultimate Marvel)

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Ultimatum
Cover of Ultimatum 1 (Nov, 2008). Art by David Finch.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Genre
Publication date January 2009 – September 2009
Number of issues 5
Main character(s) Brotherhood of Mutants
Ultimate Fantastic Four
Ultimate Spider-Man
Ultimate X-Men
Ultimates
Creative team
Writer(s) Jeph Loeb
Penciller(s) David Finch
Inker(s) Danny Miki
Colorist(s) Steve Firchow
Peter Steigerwald
Guru eFX

Ultimatum is a five-issue comic book limited series published by Marvel Comics under its Ultimate Marvel imprint from January 2009 to September 2009. The series, which was written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by David Finch, tied in with all other Ultimate titles, and dealt with Magneto's attempts to destroy the world following the apparent deaths of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in Ultimates 3. The first issue was the best-selling comic of January 2009, selling over 100,000 copies, though sales dropped with subsequent issues. Despite relatively strong sales, the series received almost universally negative reviews upon its conclusion.

History[edit]

The foreshadowing of the Ultimatum event began in late 2007 when Ultimate Power #8 featured a banner on its cover reading, "March on Ultimatum". The following summer, a teaser advertisement for Ultimatum ran in all Marvel titles. It depicted a broken tombstone reading 2000-2008, with the 2008 piece broken from its place, indicating that the Ultimate Universe would be ending that year. In an interview on YouTube, artist David Finch said that Loeb would be bringing much to all of the Ultimate Universe to a close.

Loeb said in an interview with Comic Book Resources that the storyline would "hopscotch back and forth between the two books [Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate X-Men] and conclude what I would like to say is the first chapter of the Ultimate Universe. What that means and how that's explored is the basis of our story and we're not letting any cats out of the bag."[1]

During the Marvel Ultimate Universe panel at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, Jeph Loeb said that Aron Coleite's run on Ultimate X-Men would tie-in to Ultimatum, but did not indicate that this series would end. While it was first reported in Wizard magazine that only one Ultimate Marvel title would be ending following the series,[volume & issue needed] Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate Fantastic Four were all canceled following the events of Ultimatum.

The Ultimates continued under the title Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates after Ultimatum, and is written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by artist Frank Cho. Mark Millar, writer and creator of The Ultimates, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Ultimate X-Men, is the writer for a new series entitled Ultimate Comics: Avengers, which features a rotating team of artists such as Carlos Pacheco, Leinil Francis Yu and Steve Dillon. Ultimate Spider-Man was relaunched after the end of Ultimatum as Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by artist David Lafuente, who provided the art for the third Ultimate Spider-Man Annual. Jeph Loeb also wrote a second series entitled Ultimate Comics: X, which dealt with mutants struggling under the new laws passed in the Ultimate Universe after the events of Ultimatum.

Storyline[edit]

Background[edit]

Elements of Ultimatum's story were established in the Ultimates 3, Ultimate Power, and Ultimate Origins miniseries, all of which featured a banner reading "March on Ultimatum" on their covers. During Ultimatum, the three Ultimate Marvel titles (Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate Fantastic Four), featured tie-in stories about various characters and events that occur throughout Ultimatum. The series mainly builds on the events of Ultimates 3, in which Ultron shoots and kills the Scarlet Witch. Ultron's rebellion and Wanda's death lead to a series of events which end with the apparent death of Wanda's brother, Quicksilver - shot by Hawkeye when Quicksilver uses his super-speed to intercept the bullet meant for his father. Magneto vows revenge on the Ultimates, declaring, "For what they have done, they must pay the ultimate price." Before escaping the Ultimates, Magneto is able to steal Thor's hammer (in this particular Marvel Universe, almost anyone can hold it, unlike the Mjolnir in the mainstream Earth-616). It is further revealed that Doctor Doom was manipulating the situation.

Synopsis[edit]

A series of disasters befalls a few major cities: a lightning storm suddenly appears in New York City and a tsunami hits Manhattan. Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman attempt to make it back into the Baxter Building, while the Thing attempts to hold off a whale that has just crashed through a window. Giant Man breaks out of Tony Stark's mansion looking for the Wasp. In the flooded streets of New York City, Bruce Banner appears to have drowned only to turn into the Hulk. Spider-Man attempts to help in rescue efforts. Angel carries an unconscious Dazzler from underwater to the top of a building. Iron Man rescues Captain America, reporting that many people have died and that he does not know where the rest of the Ultimates are. The Invisible Woman uses a massive force field to push all the water back out of the city without affecting civilians or buildings, but this puts her in a coma. In Latveria, Doctor Doom leaves his castle and discovers that everyone except him has been frozen. Professor X states that millions have died, and telepathically informs many of the world's superheroes that Magneto is responsible for the destruction, having made use of a doomsday attack that Xavier knew he had but never believed he would use. Magneto is then revealed to be in a floating citadel with Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.[2]

In the aftermath, the Human Torch is missing. Mister Fantastic searches for Namor, whom he believes to be responsible for the widespread destruction. Dazzler, Beast and Nightcrawler are dead, and the rest of the X-Men begin searching for survivors. Hulk arrives and peacefully assists Spider-Man in rescue efforts. At the Triskelion, Iron Man arrives with an unconscious Captain America, who is put on life support. Hawkeye helps Hank Pym search for the Wasp, but they discover the Blob eating her corpse. Enraged, the giant-sized Pym bites off the Blob's head. Back at the Baxter Building, the Thing watches over a comatose Invisible Woman, whose powers lash out at him. Meanwhile, Doctor Doom and Zarda confront Reed Richards, and forge a plan to retrieve Nick Fury from the Supreme Power universe. Thor, upon finding Valkyrie's lifeless body, enters Valhalla to reclaim her soul. He is then confronted by Hela, who forces Thor to battle Hela's army of fallen warriors to reach Valkyrie. Captain America appears in Valhalla, implying that he has died. Meanwhile at Xavier's Institute for Gifted Children, Magneto confronts Professor X, and tells him that the deaths of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have spurred him to exterminate the entire human race. He then kills Xavier and leaves.[3]

As the X-Men mourn their dead, Jean Grey telepathically learns of Professor X's death and informs the others. At Magneto's citadel, a Jamie Madrox clone arrives with a bomb strapped to his chest, accusing Magneto of turning on his own kind, but Magneto is not dissuaded from his genocidal path. In Valhalla, Thor sacrifices himself to save Valkyrie and Captain America from Hela. Captain America then wakes up, now healed, and announces that Thor is dead. A horde of Jamie Madrox's duplicates--one of many suicide-bomber hordes dispatched by Magneto to blow up targets all over the world--attack the Triskelion just as Hank arrives. He instructs Iron Man to take Wasp's body and find a file titled "The Jocasta Project". He then carries all the Madrox clones out to sea, where he allows himself to be blown up with them. Captain America orders the Ultimates to gather all the remaining heroes, and lead them in an assault on Magneto's citadel.[4]

Kitty Pryde leaves to search for Spider-Man, who was caught in an explosion inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, the home of Doctor Strange. She and Spider-Woman find his mask, and assume he is dead.[5] Strange's home is destroyed by an explosion, and when Dormammu appears, Strange confronts him. Dormammu, who is channeling the Human Torch's flame, kills Doctor Strange. Meanwhile, in the Supreme Power universe, Richards, Doom, Zarda, and Arcanna approach the exiled Nick Fury. Fury reveals that he knew of Magneto's plan, and forces Doctor Doom to reveal that he is responsible for the Scarlet Witch's death. Doom explains that he killed her in an attempt to overthrow humanity himself, but never expected Magneto to seek vengeance upon the world. Zarda is outraged that Doom instigated Magneto's mass murder.

Back in the Ultimate Universe, the Ultimates and Wolverine confront Magneto at his citadel. Angel also arrives, and is immediately killed by Sabretooth. Hawkeye blinds Sabretooth by shooting him through the eye. Magneto's arm is cut off by Valkyrie, who is trying to reclaim Thor's hammer. Magneto slashes Valkyrie's throat, but this does not kill her. Captain America attacks Magneto, and in response, Magneto collapses the ceiling on them, trapping them in the rubble. He flees and cauterizes his arm with his magnetic abilities. He is confronted by Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Storm, Hawkeye, and Iron Man.[6] Magneto kills Wolverine by ripping the adamantium from his bones and affecting his cells in such a way that he cannot regenerate. Nick Fury arrives with Mister Fantastic, Doctor Doom, and Zarda, and implements his contingency plan. Using Jean's telepathy, Fury transmits his memories to Magneto, showing him that the existence of mutants was in fact the result of a misguided genetic super soldier experiment (the decades-ago merging of Nick Fury's super-soldier blood and the DNA of Wolverine, thereafter alternately known as "Mutant Zero"), and not the "divine calling" that Magneto had long thought it was. Disillusioned, Magneto immediately reverses the damage he had done to the Earth's magnetic poles. Despite insisting that Charles Xavier would have forgiven him, Cyclops disintegrates Magneto's head with his optic blast. The heroes destroy the citadel and leave. While the citadel is falling from the sky one of Wolverine's hands begins to form a fist revealing that Wolverine might possibly still be alive.

Eight days later, the world has begun to recover from the devastation. Cyclops gives a speech in Washington D.C. before a crowd of anti-mutant protesters. He acknowledges Magneto's crimes, but pleads for peace between humans and mutants. He also announces that Congress is currently voting on a bill that will require all mutants to turn themselves in to the U.S. government or be shot on sight. However, Cyclops is fatally shot in the head by an unknown assassin. Meanwhile, the Thing travels to Latveria and kills Dr. Doom after being informed by Reed Richards that in every one of millions of alternate scenarios he can come up with, the world either suffers greatly under Doom's rule unless he is killed. In Wundagore, Quicksilver is revealed to be alive, and reveals that he was the one who assassinated Cyclops. He then takes Magneto's helmet and swears to carry on his father's dream, all while in the presence of an unknown mastermind -a woman whose identity is hidden in the shadows, although it is very likely that it is the Scarlet Witch.[7]

Aftermath[edit]

Main article: Ultimate Requiem

Following the "Ultimatum" storyline, each Ultimate title was given a Requiem follow-up series or one-shot, dealing with the status of each book's characters in the aftermath of Ultimatum.

Characters' demises[edit]

Character Demise Issue Notes / Reversal
Angel Killed and partially eaten by Sabretooth Ultimatum #4
Beast Drowned in the Ultimatum Wave Ultimatum #1
Blob Head bitten off by Hank Pym Ultimatum #3
Cannonball Blown up by Madrox Ultimatum #3
Captain Britain Blown up by Madrox, confirmed to be dead Ultimate X-Men #100 Revealed later to have survived in Ultimate Comics: Avengers
Cyclops Shot in the head by Quicksilver Ultimatum #5
Cypher Presumably blown up by Madrox, shown alongside other casualties Ultimate X-Men: Requiem
Daredevil Found dead by Spider-Man. Presumably drowned in the Ultimatum Wave Ultimate Spider-Man #131
Dazzler Drowned in the Ultimatum Wave Ultimatum #1
Detonator Tortured and killed in the Savage Land Ultimatum #3
Doctor Doom Head crushed by the Thing Ultimatum #5
Doctor Strange Killed by Dormammu after his body is constricted, causing his head to explode. His body was taken by an unknown person. Ultimatum #4
Emma Frost Blown up by Madrox Ultimatum #3
Forge Tortured and killed in the Savage Land Ultimatum #3
Franklin Storm Drowned in the Ultimatum Wave Ultimate Fantastic Four #58
Hank Pym Blown up by Madrox Ultimatum #3
Hard-Drive Tortured and killed in the Savage Land Ultimatum #3
Havok Missing in action Revealed to be alive Ultimate X #5
Madrox Killed by Wolverine Ultimate X-Men #100 Revealed alive in Ultimate Comics: X-Men
Juggernaut Hit in the eye by a poisonous dart shot by a Sentinel soldier Ultimate X-Men #99
Longshot Tortured and killed in the Savage Land Ultimatum #3
Lorelei Killed by Wolverine Ultimate X-Men #100
Magneto Decapitated by Cyclops Ultimatum #5
Nightcrawler Drowned in the Ultimatum Wave Ultimatum #1
Nightmare Presumably dead after the Hulk destroys Doctor Strange's Orb of Acmantata Ultimate Spider-Man #132
Polaris Blown up by Madrox Ultimatum #3
Professor X Neck broken by Magneto Ultimatum #2
Psylocke Listed by Marvel as dead, shown alongside other casualties Ultimate X-Men: Requiem Later shown alive in Ultimate Comics: X-Men; this Psylocke was revealed as an impostor
Spider-Man Missing after Hulk destroys Doctor Strange's home Revealed to be alive
Sunspot Blown up by Madrox Ultimatum #3
Syndicate Dead after one of his heads is blown off by William Stryker Ultimate X-Men #99
Toad Listed by Marvel as dead, though his death was never shown
Thor Surrendered his soul to Valhalla Ultimatum #3 Has since returned alive
Wasp Partially eaten by the Blob Ultimatum #2
Wolverine Killed by Magneto after the adamantium is ripped from his skeleton Ultimatum #5

Reception[edit]

Sales[edit]

Ultimatum enjoyed strong sales. The first issue was the #1 selling book for November 2008, with 114,230 books sold by Diamond.[8] However, sales dropped with the second issue, which sold less than 75,000 copies. Over the course of its nine-month run, Ultimatum lost an estimated 27,482 readers.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

The overall crossover holds a score of 5.8 out of 10 on the review aggregator Comic Book Roundup, based on 17 reviews. The core miniseries holds a score of 4 out of 10, based on five reviews. The tie-in series hold higher scores, with Ultimatum: Fantastic Four Requiem, Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem and Ultimatum: X-Men Requiem holding scores of 7, 7.7 and 6.3, respectively, based on 1, 2, and 1 reviews, respectively.[10] The initial reviews of the core miniseries' earlier issues were mixed, with issue #1 holding a score of 6.3 out of 10 at Comic Book Roundup, based on 10 reviews, with the following four issues holding scores of 4.8, 3.7, 2.2 and 2.8, based on 8, 5, 6, and 6 reviews, respectively.[11]

In reviews of the first issue, Zak Edwards of ComicBookBin took notice of Loeb's ability to relay characterization while plotting a catastrophic event,[12] while Jesse Schedeen of IGN thought Loeb's characterization in the first issue was poor.[13] Weekly Comic Book Review's Andrew C. Murphy gave the miniseries' first issue a B+, praising David Finch's art, while Ben Berger gave it a C, opining that there was too much exposition, but also praising Finch's art.[14]

Criticism of Loeb's writing was more common in reviews of subsequent issues,[15] and universal by the time of the series' conclusion.[16] David Finch's art generally drew more praise,[12][15][16] though even that element was not without its critics, with some reviewers taking issue with Finch's focus on characters' physical beauty over expressiveness,[17] and more than one reviewer criticizing him for his depiction of Carol Danvers's breast size.[18][19]

Schedeen gave the series' final issue a scathing review, saying, "Ultimatum is one of the worst comics I have ever read," and called it "the ultimate nightmare."[17] Criticism of Loeb's writing, centered on his dialogue, the number of characters he killed off, inconsistent characterization and storytelling.[20][21][22][23] Other points of criticism among these reviews also included the level of graphic violence, which included cannibalism, and the notion that the series was sold on the basis of its shock value.[24]

Still others asserted the story lacked originality,[25][26] and that the series would have been better suited to someone who had previously been more involved with the Ultimate Marvel line, such as Brian Michael Bendis or Mark Millar,[21] particularly in light of Loeb's critically panned work on Ultimates 3.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richards, Dave (July 28, 2007). "CCI: Ultimate Changes: Loeb Talks Ultimatum and Ultimates 3". Comic Book Resources.
  2. ^ Loeb, Jeph (w), Finch, David (p), Miki, Danny (i). "Three Kings". Ultimatum #1 (January 2009). Marvel Comics.
  3. ^ Loeb, Jeph (w), Finch, David (p), Miki, Danny (i). "Death Becomes Her". Ultimatum #2 (February 2009). Marvel Comics.
  4. ^ Loeb, Jeph (w), Finch, David (p), Miki, Danny (i). "Heaven on Earth". Ultimatum #3 (May 2009). Marvel Comics.
  5. ^ Bendis, Brian Michael (w). Immonen, Stuart (p), Von Grawbadger, Wade (i). "Ultimatum!, Chapter 5". Ultimate Spider-Man #133 (June 2009). Marvel Comics.
  6. ^ Loeb, Jeph (w), Finch, David (p), Miki, Danny (i). "A Time to Die". Ultimatum #4 (June 2009). Marvel Comics.
  7. ^ Loeb, Jeph (w), Finch, David (p), Miki, Danny (i). "The Ugly Truth". Ultimatum #5 (September 2009). Marvel Comics.
  8. ^ "Top 300 Comics for November 2008". ICV2. December 16, 2008.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Ultimatum". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  11. ^ "Ultimatum". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Edwards, Zak (November 5, 2008). "Ultimatum #1". ComicBookBin.
  13. ^ a b Schedeen, Jesse (November 5, 2008). "Ultimatum #1 Review". IGN.
  14. ^ Name (2008-11-05). "Andrew C. Murphy and Ben Berger. "''Ultimatum'' #1 – Review" Weekly Comic Book Review; November 5, 2008". Weekly Comic Book Review. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  15. ^ a b "Ultimatum #2 Reviews". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Ultimatum #5 Reviews". Comic Book Roundup. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Jesse Schedeen. "Ultimatum" #5 Review: The ultimate nightmare comes to a close."". IGN. July 29, 2009. 
  18. ^ Edwards, Zak (December 26, 2008 ). "Ultimatum #2". ComicBookBin.
  19. ^ Joel, Bryan (December 24, 2008). "Ultimatum #2 Review". IGN.
  20. ^ Kerouac, Jason (July 30, 2009). "Ultimatum #5". Panels on Pages.
  21. ^ a b "Review: Ultimatum". Big Shiny Robot. July 31, 2009. 
  22. ^ Hunt, James (June 9, 2009). "Review: Ultimatum #4". Comic Book Resources.
  23. ^ "Review of Ultimatum #4". iFanboy. June 3, 2009.
  24. ^ Brice, Jason (June 2, 2009). "Review of Ultimatum #4". Comics Bulletin. [dead link]
  25. ^ Krinn, Rokk (November 10, 2008). "Comic Book Review: Ultimatum #1". Comic Book Revolution.[dead link]
  26. ^ "Comic Book Review: Ultimatum #5". ComixUp. August 1, 2009.[dead link]