Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand
Galactus has entered into the Ultimates' Universe. Merging with a deadly swarm of planet destroyers, he has become the the ultimate threat. Only the Earth's mightiest heroes can stand up against the planet eater.
June 10th, 2014
Hard cover, soft cover, digital
Writers: Fialkov, Bendis
Artists: Kirk, Suayan, Bagley, Martinez, Quinones, Giandomenico
We owe the alternate universe of the Ultimates’ much more recognition. One of my favorite alternate universes, Marvel’s Ultimates’ Universe has been a huge contributor to the movies we see now, rather than the original Marvel Universe. Here is what the movies have borrowed from the Ultimates’:
+ Nick Fury is a black man who looks like Samuel L Jackson
+ Captain America was discovered in an ice block
+ The politics and government dealings of SHIELD
+ Spider-Man’s relationship with his enemies
+ The X-Men movies is based on the Ultimates’ retelling of the X-Men
In fact, if you buy a copy of The Ultimates Vol. 1, you will see the first Avengers movie used it as a skeleton for the story. However, there are also many weird things that the Ultimates’ Universe gave us as an alternative to the Marvel lore. Here are just a few examples:
+ Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four is a megalomaniac that uses technology to recreate the world
+ Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are brother and sister, but they also have a thing for each other (yuck)
+ Tony Stark gets brain cancer and the tumor manifests itself into a separate personality
+ Thor loses his god powers, but Tony creates some very cool hardware for him
+ Peter Parker dies and gets replaced by Miles Morales
+ Ant-Man is an alcoholic who has a tendency to abuse his wife
+ The Hulk is a villain
The Ultimates’ Universe is closer to the style of Quentin Tarantino or Steve Soderbergh than Stan Lee and the comic age of old. After many volumes and re-imaginings of the Marvel story, the alternate universe is coming to a close. This is how the final story ended one of my favorite universes.
The Galactus of the Marvel Universe found a rip in time and space. He entered it into the Ultimates’ Universe. Upon entering the brand new universe, he meets a metallic virus called Gah Lak Tus that bonds with his body, making him ten times more unstoppable and giving him an insatiable hunger for planets. The planets in his way become little more than dust as the Galactus goes on a universe-sized rampage. His last target: Earth.
The first heroes to stand in his way are Rick Jones (the galactic champion of creation), and the Silver Surfer. They watch helplessly as whole alien civilizations are consumed.
Galactus finds his way to Earth and starts by eradicating the entire State of New Jersey. The Ultimates, under the authority of SHIELD, must take drastic measures to stop this invincible cosmic threat. Teaming up with X-Men members, Kitty Pryde, Storm, and recently incarcerated villain Reed Richards, they take on the monstrous power. The battle is beyond destructive.
Meanwhile, Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man, joins up with other heroes to bring citizens to safety as the world is collapsing all around them. Spider-Man flashes back to his childhood when his father warned him never to become a superhero because of the danger. In the wake of this disaster, Spider-Man reveals his identity to his father and faces the reality that his dad is disappointed in him.
The X-Men are living on a new paradisaical island where mutants can live in harmony. The Gah Lak Tus threat finds them and starts wrecking havoc on the island. Mutants start getting killed. Rogue teams up with Rick Jones to battle the threat and save her friends.
Finally, Nick Fury and his team of Howling Commandos (Hercules, Sam Wilson, Punisher, Danny Ketch, and Stature) are on a mission in Minsk Belarus. The government uprising is starting a cult that worships the Gah Lak Tus swarm and welcomes their coming. The cult master is Modok, who uses the swarm to take over the citizens of the country and make his own zombie army. The Howling Commandos are up to their arm pits in a devastating army. They foolishly set the Hulk free to destroy the threat, but the swarm assimilates the Hulk. In the final showdown with Modok and the Howling Commandos, sacrifices need to be made to ensure that the chaos will not continue.
Cataclysm doesn’t touch any direct spiritual issues, but it displays Galactus as a cruel god bent on destruction or a modern day Goliath. Unfortunately, this Goliath is not beaten in one act of godly strength; many David-like heroes give up their lives. True villains destroy, steal, and kill, while true heroes give their lives for others.
The battles are chaotic. Explosions fill each cell. Bullets, energy cannons, and lasers fly in every direction. Stabbings happen to certain characters. Blood gets spilled because of brutal fights. Genocide themes are prevalent in the issues.
The Ultimates are likely to swear, but anything above the A** word is blocked out with $%^&.
There’s no room for lust in this clustercuss of explosions. Sam Wilson talks about how in love he is with The Vision (female version).
Other Negative Content
The only questionable moral from the good guys is that one superhero has a flashback of the time she was arrested for destruction of property.
The theme of giving up your life for the greater good is soaked in the pages of Cataclysm. While none of the heroes are giving up their life like Jesus did, the story wakes up the hero in us all to be active against the tragedies of life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, as Christians, were as driven to give our lives for the needs of others like a superhero? The life blood of Christianity is that we love our neighbors and put them first.
Where do I even start in this nineteen-issue mega collection? There are over four-hundred pages dedicated to the final days of the Ultimates’ Universe. From the opening of the book, there is constant action and immediacy. The book rarely lets up. But it’s not all mindless action. Characters like Rick Jones, Miles Morales and Danny Ketch get personal attention to their struggles. The story follows their coming of age, where they must decide where they stand as superheroes. Other stories involve heroes losing the ones they love and mourning. Many A-List heroes lose their lives, but I won’t spoil it for you.
The hardest obstacle to overcome is that if you start reading this story without any prior knowledge of the universe, you will feel left out of the loop. The book jacket tries to catch you up to speed, with the chapters explaining some of the back story, but those who know the Ultimate story line intimately will have the best read. Please do not let that discourage you, as this story is still over the top fun.
The story might move at a breakneck speed, causing your head to spin from all the action. There’s sacrifice, re-commitment, love lost, bravery, and aggression filling up each story. This kind of storytelling reminds me that every once and a while a writer needs to throw his universe into constant turmoil (“Give the universe an enema,” as Julie Schwartz calls it). Only this turmoil ends one of the most eccentric and creative universes in Marvel history. If you are too mature for the hokey and geeky world of Marvel, you will be welcomed into the arms of the more serious and adult world of The Ultimates.
This wasn’t actually a destruction of the world, but more of a liquidation. Marvel wasn’t going to lose their golden goose, the new Spider-Man, or his pals. Instead they got their own spin-off series called The New Ultimates.
There are a variety of artists working on each story in the book. While every artist has a different style for drawing superheroes, the pages are littered with heavy details and bigger-than-life characters. Basically, if you knew how to draw wide spanning galaxies or cities exploding, then you were qualified to draw in this series. What I like about The Ultimates is that their characters look like real people doing a real life job. The amount of reality in the art makes it so refreshingly different.
Like I stated earlier, the ending of this story is not the complete obliteration of the universe. Tony Stark gives a heartfelt speech about those who gave their lives and the New Ultimates vow to restart the saga in a spin-off. Not exactly the best way to end a series, but it gave Marvel room to save Miles Morales so they could use him in other stories.
If you pick up this story, you will get a cinematic burst of epic events happening to some of the coolest heroes in the Marvel universe. You might also be confused because the Ultimates’ canon is very rich and different. Do yourself a favor: get the Unlimited Marvel reading app and spend a weekend catching up on this excellent series.
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+ Epic world ending story
+ Good character side stories
+ Almost every major Marvel A-List character is involved
+ Break-neck storytelling
+ Artists really show the magnitude of this event
- Break-neck storytelling (not for the faint of heart)
- If you don't know the Ultimates' Universe, you will feel a little lost
- Not actually the end of the Universe, just the end of the series