by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Art by Leonard Kirk
A few people will know my feelings on the Ultimate universe, but seeing as how I have never put into print before, here is my two cents. The Ultimate universe should have ended with Ultimatum. When I got back into comics at the turn of the millennium it was the ultimate universe that did it. Depressingly I was one of the vocal minority who thought that Marvel should wind up the 616 universe and make the Ultimate universe the ‘real’ one. For the record, I am very sorry and I was very wrong. By 2006 I had lost all interest in it, and frankly I hoped it would limp off and die having served its purpose and dragged new and lapsed readers back into comics, but even when you have what should have been a world ending event in Ultimatum, it still would not lie down and accept its own demise.
The question is then why am I reading an Ultimate book? To be honest, that is not the entire truth about this comic; it is billed as the aftermath to Ultron which means it is tying in the 616 universe, but more importantly for me, its major focus is my favourite villain of the Marvel universe, Galactus. Calling him a villain really does not do him justice; Doc Oc or the Kingpin is a ‘villain’ and above that you have the ambiguous anti heroes like Magneto, who swing from enemy to friend depending upon the foe. Above all of that you have the forces of nature, those creatures for who ‘good and evil’ simply are words of no meaning. To Galactus planets are the same as a pizza is to us; we do not worry whether the pizza minds being eaten, we do not even consider the pigs and cows that to a greater or lesser extent form the toppings for the said pizza. That is why I had to read this series, be it tied into the Ultimate universe or not.
This book puts side by side the differences between the ultimate and 616 universes as both Galactus’ (Galacti?) are involved, and the difference could not be starker. The ultimate Galactus is like a swarm of giant mechanical locust consuming all in their path, conversely the 616 Galactus is a huge hulking humanoid with the silliest hat imaginable. While the Ultimate version makes so much more sense in their form, it completely loses the majesty of the original, silly hat and all. Fortunately as Galactus rips through the fabric of reality into the path of the swarm, this becomes an irrelevance. I will not spoil it because I think it is a wonderful moment in the comic, but the outcome on the final pages is magnificent even if Galactus more reminiscent of Unicron as he loses some of that humanoid appearance.
As I have previously alluded this comic is the set up for a cosmic battle, probably for the Ultimate version of Earth, which takes place after a rip in space between the two universes. The rest of the comic is dedicated to the stories protagonist, which I am afraid to say is Rick Jones. It is bad enough the number of stories he has appeared in the 616 Universe and the weird panoply of powers he has possessed; everything from the abomination through to Captain Marvel’s alter identity; but in this world he is the protector of the universe with power imbued by the Watchers, which I would say is a contradiction in the definition of ‘watchers’. Putting this to one side, it is a story about learning ones responsibilities in life rarely correspond with our wants and desires; although in this case Ricks only desire is for a burger, so it is pretty hard on him that he is not even allowed that small thing. The Watchers drag him around the universe showing him what is occurring as fleets of ships are consumed by the swarm Galactus in an attempt to force him to fulfil his destiny.
I would carry on reading this series simply because it concerns Galactus, however all previous books containing Galactus always end up feeling hollow as he never manages to consume the planet that he seeks, because that would be the end of the Marvel universe. With Galactus now in the Ultimate universe I may finally get what I wish and see Galactus destroying planet Earth. Coincidentally this would end the Ultimate universe, so this could be a double win for me.