[WARNING: Contains SPOILERS for Ultimates2 #1.]
The Ultimates came together to battle cosmic-level threats as only superheroes of their caliber could: Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) and King T’Challa (Black Panther) joined forces with America Chavez, Blue Marvel, and Spectrum in order to handling the Mad Titans and rogue Phalanxes of the galaxy. Despite a few rough patches, they managed to keep the galaxy a safer place – even curing ancient deity, Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, of his perpetual hunger for, well, worlds. But everything changed for the team during Civil War II.
Carol Danvers' fight for the future – as Marvel's second superhero conflict was framed – had drastic repercussions for all of its participants. Two of Earth’s finest heroes lost their lives during the fighting, while another was almost counted among the dead. As allegiances rearranged before the war, they also shifted during and after it, affecting the core team in a major way. Ultimates2 #1 explores the aftermath of their internal strife, as well as some major developments in the Omniverse.
The Ultimates Break Up
Despite the heat of battle, a shocking vision, courtesy of Ulysses, brought the Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man skirmish to a dead stop. After Carol Danvers attempted to place Miles Morales under arrest for possible future crimes, King T’Challa decides he’s had enough: too many lives have already been lost and too much is at stake. As a result, he quits the second superhero-go-around during its very climax.
His withdrawal from Civil War II echoes Spider-Man’s drastic change of heart during the first Civil War, one which also changed the nature of the superhero conflict. This time, rather than changing the tides of battle, T’Challa’s departure prompts others, like the Inhumans and future Champions, to break ranks as well. More so, Captain Marvel sees it as a major betrayal, and his decision causes a rift between the two and also causes the Ultimates to rupture. The U.S. government, none-too-pleased on the diplomatic side, officially disbands the team to maintain good relations with Wakanda.
The Ultimates Make Up (Sort of)
Despite the dissolution of the cosmic heroes' squad and lingering hostilities, the first issue of Ultimates2 sees some bridges mended. T’Challa and Captain Marvel meet at an out-of-the-way diner to hash things out under the pretense of a blind date (King T’Challa adapts a spot-on false-accent as “Luke Charles” and even namedrops Stranger Things.). The discussion is fruitful, as T’Challa admits his frustration with Carol bringing the Ultimates' into a non-interstellar conflict in Civil War II. Since their team has been officially disbanded, though, even if they could work through their beef, the Ultimates wouldn't be allowed to reform under penalty of treason.
He and Captain Marvel are at an impasse about where to go with the team, until the ceiling breaks open and Connor Sims, a.k.a. Anti-Man – the first new herald of Galactus – busts into the diner. With him already are an ensnared Spectrum and Blue Marvel. T’Challa and Cap join forces against their old friend and foe, but this time around, even their remarkable abilities are no match for the Power Cosmic-enhanced Sims. Trapping them as well, he spirits the team away to an awaiting Galactus.
Galactus to the Rescue?
The former Ultimates find themselves in the presence of the Lifebringer, where he asks (or, more so, strongly suggests) that they reincorporate and become his heralds. It seems someone or thing known as the Cosmic Jailer has Eternity (the Marvel Universe’s embodiment of it, anyway) under lock and key. Galactus seeks out Earth’s most powerful heroes to find out who’s behind this cosmic entrapment and why.
Of course, Captain Marvel isn’t one to work with galactic tyrants (aside from when she turns into one), even reformed ones. Her tune changes, though, after the Ultimates’ new team leader appears, Ms. America Chavez, requesting their assistance to engage in “the only fight that matters:” a battle for Eternity, literally.
Rebuilding the Multiverse?
The latest round of Ultimates is written smartly by Al Ewing, drawn with evocative characters and far-out backgrounds (which are sometimes intentionally minimalist for effect) by Travel Foreman, and given an appropriately psychedelic wash by Dan Brown. The teams' adventures also kick off on a suitably grandiose theme: saving all reality. It appears that while Reed Richards and family work on rebuilding the multiverse on a meta-level, Al Ewing and his editorial staff are reconstructing it from the outside, as well as providing the Ultimates an properly mind-blowing breadth and scope.
Ultimates2 #1, while feeling a little exposition-heavy from time to time, does a solid job of picking up where the previous run and Civil War II left off. It also leaves the door open for some seriously grand-scale adventures. Working with Galactus to solve a mystery of universal proportions should prove fascinating, as will as the shift in leadership from Captain Marvel and T’Challa to Ms. America (at least for now). It also makes sense due to the their current roles. After all, she’s the “paramedic for the multiverse.”
Teased within the book-ending promo is the return of Reed Richards twisted alternate version, the Maker and even, perhaps even several alternate realms, including the Ultimate and New Universes (or at least further crossovers). Ewing and crew seem to have some pretty world-rending escapades in mind. Is it possible all this universe-hopping could even lead to a cameo or two from a certain old-school Marvel team? If Ultimates2 can live up to the far-reaching premise it teases, it could truly be one of Marvel’s most exciting recent books.
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Ultimates2 #1 is currently available online and in print. Ultimates2 #2 ships on December 7.