Not wanting to be forgotten amidst the “Before Watchmen” hoo-ha yesterday, Marvel released a teaser for their next “Spider-Event” in June. The teaser has an amalgamation of the insignia for Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Now this could mean that Peter will be back in some way or form in “Ultimate Spider-Man,” which I doubt because Bendis is too smart to play that card so early in Miles’ tenure as the character. More interestingly, some have even speculated that this could actually be a crossover between the regular 616 Marvel Universe and the Ultimate one.
… I sure as hell hope that’s not the case.
This isn’t the first time this has happened, as Mark Millar’s first proper arc on “Ultimate Fantastic Four” was hyped as maybe, possibly doing this, but we wound up getting “Marvel Zombies” instead. A fair trade, all things considered. What bothers me about this is that it essentially means Marvel is throwing in the towel for the Ultimate Universe. Originally conceived as a way to reintroduce Marvel characters for the new millenium by introducing them as if they were created “today,” the “Ultimate” imprint was a massive creative and sales success that shocked the industry. Realizing that they had a good thing on their hands, Marvel resisted exploiting the imprint at first and made sure that the series was graced with some of their most talented creators and stated that there would be NO crossing over with the 616 Universe. That would dilute what made the Ultimate one “special,” you see.
However, sales eventually started sliding and the quality stopped being so consistent. While Brian Michael Bendis is still writing a much-changed “Ultimate Spider-Man,” putting talented (but not exactly bankable) creators like Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer on “Ultimates” and “Ultimate X-Men” feels like a last-ditch effort. The hope that their fresh voices and unique approaches will re-ignite the spark that those titles once had has not been borne out by their critical reception or sales.
By bringing the two Spider-Men together, it feels like Marvel is going, “Well, we’ve tried everything else, so let’s try this now.” I don’t doubt that either Bendis, or current “Spider-Man” writer Dan Slott are capable of writing a great story involving these characters, but the end result for this is pretty much the same as what happened to the Wildstorm Universe. All of the worthy Ultimate characters will eventually be absorbed into the 616 proper and the imprint will be a footnote in history.
Or maybe I’m completely wrong about this. Maybe “Spider-Men” is an indication that Slott is going to bring back Ben Reilly, the Amazing Spider-Clone and do it right this time! In this case, I’d be happy to be wrong about everything I’ve just written.