For far to long comic books were not at all new ready friendly. Bloated continuities, massive cross-overs, and origin stories that did not work for modern day readers covered comic books like flies on shit. The Marvel launched the Ultimate line. The original goal was to modernize comic books, and it worked. Soon Marvel based comic book films were killing the box offices and readers who originally started off by reading the Ultimate line soon switched over to the main universe. With that the Ultimate Line had a new goal: Tell stories that could never happen in the original marvel universe.
The result received mixed reviews. Marvel’s two most popular characters died during this transition, Wolverine and Spider-man. With their deaths, there was no going back. While Wolverine’s replacement never really attached to fans, Spider-man’s replacement became one of Marvel’s shining stars. But why? Because with Miles Morales, the new Spider-man, new stories were told, but the theme remained the same.
When Wolverine, Cyclopes, and Xavier died during Ultimatium, and the FF split up when Reed Richards became doom, these things that made people read X-men and the Fantastic Four left with them. The X-men roster is new stranger to change, nor is the Fantastic Four, so their transitions should have been more natural, and even easier to accomplish. The problem was with the Ultimate X-men relaunch the books were not longer about a school where student who were different from the world learned to see these differences as gifts. The Fantastic Four where no longer a family diving into the unknown corners of the cosmos. Readers have always accepted the Cyclopes and Mr. Fantastic would not always be the stars, but the Ultimate line took away the very reason people read the books to begin with. They took away what made Marvel great, relatable heroes with relatable problems.
Brian Bendis didn’t fall into this trap, in fact, he made Peter Parker’s death improve his book and set it apart from all other mainstream comics. When Peter died, the things that made Peter originally great were all a part of Miles Morales. Miles wasn’t rich, he didn’t have a bunch of friends with super powers, and he wasn’t an alien. He got his powers by accident and with them gained a greater sense of responsibility. The things that set them apart really makes Miles’s story feel more like a sequel to Peter’s. Peter’s story ended, but his world lived on. The Daily Bugle is still a newsroom, Oscorp is still corrupt, and Nick Fury still runs S.H.I.E.L.D. We now get to read the adventures of a new, younger, character try to fill the shoes of his hero. And while many faces are still the same, the roles have changed. Once again, like a sequel. When you read Ultimate Spider-man you can jump from Amazing Spider-man the movie or the Amazing Spider-man the comics and follow along, while getting totally new stories. This is what modern day comics has been missing.
With the launch of “Ultimate Marvel Now,” the iconic teams and heroes and removed from the table, but their world remains. In their place stands younger, less experienced heroes doing the best they can. The formulas are all the same, just the faces are different. And many of the faces aren’t even new. Kitty being in the Ultimates makes complete sense. I personally had always envisioned Ms. Pryde as a Marvel A-lister once she grew up, but she never will get the chance in the primary universes. Now I can read stories where it has happened!
Another great part of Ultimate Marvel Now are several B-list heroes have the chance to shine, I specifically mean Cloak and Dagger. When DC launched the new 52 they promoted several characters fans had written off, and their efforts worked. Vibe, of all people, has not only found his own role in the DC universe but will be appearing in the Flash’s TV show. The new title, All-New Avengers, could do what the Ultimate line meant to do from the beginning, expose new readers to classic characters.