The Ultimates: Omniversal Volume 1: Start With the Impossible
Writer: Al Ewing | Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
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The Ultimates has been a superhero team name used in many different contexts in the last decade by Marvel Comics. The current incarnation is a drastic shift from the former. Led by Captain Marvel, the Ultimates is another one of those “pro-active” teams. It’s a concept that’s been done many times before and I’ve never felt it’s never been done too successfully. However, writer Ewing has figured out a format that allows everything to work. The team counts Blue Marvel, Spectrum, Ms. America, and Black Panther among its members and their focus right out of the gate is a huge one: complete the metamorphosis of Galactus that was hindered millennia ago.
Galactus is a carryover from the universe that existed pre-Big Bang. He was saved by his specialized spacecraft and became an omnipotent world devourer in the new reality. The problem was that various armadas from across the galaxy interrupted his gestation and that is why he now eats planets to survive. Blue Marvel has deduced that Galactus needs to be put back in his ship and the process will be completed. Every member contributes their skills to this might endeavor and it’s a very satisfying two-part story. The conclusion establishes a status quo for Galactus that me genuinely shocked and excited.
The remaining three issues in the collection focus on Blue Marvel’s quest to repair the damage done to the timestream in recent years. Between the original teenage X-Men running around in the present day, the timeline catching up with what used to be the “future”, and the reality rendering of the recent Secret Wars, the Marvel universe is operating on a razor’s edge. The team constructs a ship capable of traveling into the space beyond the universe where they plan to fix what’s wrong. What they find ties directly into Blue Marvel’s path and they get help due to some of their previous actions.
This was the first Marvel comic that felt like it was capturing some of the magic I used to love about DC. Having a team that tackles the cosmic and multiverse level problems is always so interesting to me. I also love when a writer takes well-worn concepts, like Galactus, and makes changes that will forever alter them and open up a whole new world of stories to tell. The sense of a growing universe is so much fun, better than comic books that feel stagnate or just kill characters off only to bring them back months later. Character growing and changing their mindset is much more interesting.
The stories here are definitely not new reader friendly. Even with an effort to fill in some backstory for Galactus or Blue Marvel, it’s still pretty essential to do some background reading if you want to fully understand who these characters are and what is happening. The final issue in the collection is particularly impossible to parse due to its focus on a character with a lot of complicated history in the Marvel Universe. So if you enjoy jumping in the deep end you’ll like this comic but if you prefer to have things explained detail you might look elsewhere.
If you read Jonathan Hickman’s work the last few years at Marvel (Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four, Avengers World, Secret Wars) then this takes the ball and keeps it rolling. Events happening in Civil War II were seeded right here. I will definitely be keeping the series on my reading list. It hits those high adventure, exploring the unknown notes that Fantastic Four provided in at its best, continuing an important tradition in the Marvel U.