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Ultimate Origins Review

Ultimate_Origins    Today’s offering should be interesting.  I have been trying to think of how to write this post for days (poor excuse for my absence) and I think that I finally figured it out.  In comics, the verbiage used to describe the story lines of a particular comic book universe are called the continuity.  Ultimate Origins was a VERY interesting book for me as it explained many differences between the “Ultimate” continuity and the pre-established Golden and Silver Age continuities that we all have come to know of through reading comics or watching comic book movies.  For instance, Spider-man became a superhero after letting a criminal escape onto the street who would kill his uncle later that night.  This is the way that the story progresses in both the Ultimate universe and the original text from Spiderman’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy.  The continuities are the same.  Conversely, in the world of Ultimate Xmen, Storm and Beast are dating.  That would never happen in the original Marvel universe.  Also, Beast died in the Ultimate Universe, but is alive and well in original continuity.  It is important to understand that the Ultimate universe is different from the original Marvel universe, especially for the entertainment value that can be gleaned from Ultimate Origins.

Ultimate Origins begins with a scene that had occurred in an early issue of Ultimate Marvel Team Up.  Ultimate Marvel Team Up was a lesser known book and so the fact that they dropped in a big clue was interesting to me.  Spiderman and the Hulk have been battling through New York and have fought to a standstill at the docks when the Hulk powers down to tell Spiderman, “It’s all connected.”

I had always wondered what that meant after I had read that comic book around 2003.  They teased a connection between two very different and random events such as the rampage of the Hulk and Spiderman’s humble beginnings in this side issue.  Then, when we fast forward to 2011 and this seed came to fruition, I found myself given somewhat of a shock.

I was beyond surprised that the way the Ultimate universe became connected, in the first issue of Ultimate Origins, was through three characters being criminals together.  Wilson Fisk, James Howlett, and Nicholas Fury start out as soldiers robbing homes during WW2.  James and Nicholas get caught and imprisoned, while Fisk escapes.  They take Fury and put him into the super soldier program for testing.  They send Howlett back to Canada for his own brand of scientific torture.  Fisk is actually the alter ego to the Kingpin, famous adversary of Daredevil, and I assume that he escapes with the spoils of war to form his character’s immense fortune.

Ultimate Origins does a great job with Fury’s storyline.  It highlights the disrespect that African Americans received in the early years of our country.  Fury is treated like an animal.  This will be a theme to his life as we see later in the book.

Now in the original Marvel universe, Nick Fury was just a human soldier, at the top of his game, that climbed to the pinnacle of the ranks in The U.S. Military Black Covert Ops SHIELD division.  In the Ultimate universe, Nick is a test subject due to his criminal background and is injected with super soldier serum.  This makes Fury the FIRST super soldier.  This is a nod to the often untold story of Isaiah Bradley.  Isaiah Bradley was the first super soldier and the first Captain America in the original Marvel universe.  Isaiah was created with the super soldier serum that was tested on and killed many African Americans during the Tuskegee Experiments.  Nick Fury, after becoming a super soldier escapes and disappears.

James Howlett is taken to the Weapon X program in Canada where they do terrible things to him.  The way that Ultimate Origins really messes with you is that they take you down the path that is familiar to you from the original Marvel universe, but then leers off on it’s own Origin story.  Original continuity is that Weapon X exploits James’ mutant abilities that he was born with.  Ultimates universe says that Weapon X creates the mutant gene starting with James Howlett, or Wolverine if you prefer, and infects the populace with it.  Magneto saves him from the program and kills his own mother in doing so.

Ultimate Origins features early looks at Bruce Banner, a teenage Dr. Henry Pym, who would later become Giant Man, and Richard Parker, Spiderman’s dad.  We get to see all of these Main characters and how all of their stories are intertwined.  We see Magneto and Charles Xavier’s friendship blossom, flower, and die.  We get all of these interesting glances at how the Ultimate universe developed and I have to say I find it more interesting than original continuity.  The updated themes and adult situations that are handled in Ultimate books is just refreshing.  It feels like the difference between watching a PG movie and a PG 13 movie.  The content is a little more mature, but a lot more realistic.  I find myself gravitating towards the new and not the old.  I loved Ultimate Origins.  The shocking truth about the deaths of Peter Parker’s parents will have your jaw on the floor.  The sadness Magneto taps into when he rejects the idea that he was a simple experiment is gut-wrenching.  The impassioned speech that FDR gives to Captain America about WW2 makes you want to fight for America.  It’s a very emotional book and gives the reader lots to chew on, but falls just a little shy of perfect.

The side story that introduces all of these memories from the past is an Ultimate Fantastic Four/Carol Danvers story and it is BORING.  They find alien totem poles in strategic places all over the world just watching events take place.  It tries to be creepy, but it is sort of expected.  I think that “the Watcher” totem poles are much much cooler than the giant-headed avatar of doom from original continuity, but it wasn’t enough to save this storyline.  It’s a weak storyline that makes you long for the intrigue provided by the rich and colorful flashbacks.

All things included, this is another Ultimate revamp that doesn’t disappoint.  I love the length as five issues are easy to digest and the story itself is well contained.  Everything that I know about “Ultimatum,” the story arc that follows Ultimate Origins, suggests it is a train wreck, but I feel compelled to read on.  Ultimate Origins is very pointed and I think that the strength that it possesses is in the emotions it conveys and the crazy plot twists it provides.  If you are a hardcore fan, it’s a must read in my opinion.

~ Scott Deaux ~

About Scott Deaux

Favorite Comics: Lazarus, Essex County, Chew, Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Age of Apocalypse stuff, The Nightly News, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Pax Romana, Avengers, NEXTWAVE: Agents Of Hate, Sweet Tooth, We3, others... Favorite Quote(s): "Journalism is just a gun. It's only got one bullet in it, but if you aim right, that's all you need. Aim it right, and you can blow a kneecap off the world." - Warren Ellis "People who hold signs go hold many other things" - Eddie Pepitone

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  1. So, did they explain how Nick Fury became a black guy?

  2. Nice Scott. Thanks for explaining the Original and Ultimate universe.

  3. Hey! Great post. Sorry it took me so long to read it. Also excellent punctuation. On another note the boys and I miss you terribly. Love you

  4. Thanks everyone for your comments. Read on!

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