Review: ‘Ultimate End’ #5 – Is It A Fulfilling Finale?

After numerous delays, the Marvel Secret Wars tie-in Ultimate End finally came to an end this week. The miniseries by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley was designed as a formal goodbye to the Ultimate Marvel Universe, which the two creators started with Ultimate Spider-Man back in 2000. The penultimate issue came out way back on August 5th, so fans have waited more than four months to finally get to say goodbye to (most of) these characters, and enjoy a heartfelt, fulfilling finale. Not so sure they got it.

This series has been a mess from the start. This was bound to happen; Bendis tried to fit in all the characters from both the Ultimate Universe AND the mainstream Marvel Universe and still create a cohesive story. The result was just battle after battle between counterparts: Tony Stark vs. Tony Stark, Hulk vs. Hulk, resulting on full on war between the worlds. There was no substance to a story that should have felt deep, and brought closure to this world.

The ending tried to add depth, and it should get credit for that. The two worlds unite against their common enemy, and overlapping the images are three intertwined monologues meant to flow as one. The running theme is about heroism, and stopping the bad guy, whatever the consequences may be. It’s supposed to be inspiring, and it is to an extent. It’s also somewhat underwhelming. This just felt like a cliché ending to a generic good vs. evil story, instead of a swan song to the characters of the Ultimate Universe.

Ultimate End
Opening splash page. See? Mess.

Lack of continuity has been the most frustrating aspect of this whole series. It’s a Secret Wars tie-in, but the stories fail to line up most of the time. A character who dies in Secret Wars still manages to appear early on in Ultimate End, and stays there through this issue! If this were a mistake in the first issue, it should have at least been remedied throughout the rest of the story. Little things like this run throughout all five issues.

The real nuisance regarding continuity is Spider-Man. Peter Parker is front-and-center in this book from issue one. And based on the dialogue it is very clearly the mainstream Spider-Man from Earth-616. But Earth-616 Peter Parker is also a major player in the main Secret Wars story, so he shouldn’t even be in this story from the start. At the very least, he should swing in later with Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales, another player in the main story, who ties the two stories together. It gets worse. Miles tells the characters what’s going down over in the main story, and it’s as if Peter is hearing for the first time, even though he’s in that story. It gets worse yet! Peter then calls his Aunt May, and the image very clearly shows ULTIMATE Aunt May, not this Peter’s Aunt May at all. It may sound like something small, but it’s all very jarring and takes the reader out of the story. The continuity utterly ruins what otherwise may be a salvageable story.

There isn’t much to say about Mark Bagley’s art. This isn’t his best work, but he had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, so he can be excused. He still draws an amazing Spider-Man (puns!), and his multiple splash pages are action packed, if not somewhat overwhelming. Besides, even on his worst day, Mark Bagley is still one of the best working artists in comics today.


It’s not easy, or fun to write a review like this. Creators undoubtedly worked hard on this project and put heart into it, especially since Bendis and Bagley created the Ultimate U. in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes the pieces just don’t come together the way they should. It doesn’t help that there was added pressure to get this done on a time crunch before the main Secret Wars title ends this month. Bringing sixteen years of work to a fulfilling conclusion, in only five issues, on a tight schedule is nearly impossible.

The book’s ending is its saving grace. It’s no secret that Miles Morales is being brought into the mainstream Marvel Universe post-Secret Wars. The end of this book leads directly into his new life, and sets up Bendis’ new Spider-Man book coming in February. It’s pretty uneventful, but it feels strangely hopeful in the wake of a universe’s death. This hope and excitement to see Miles’ story continue manages to lift up this otherwise disappointing ending. It doesn’t make up for all of its pitfalls, but it does make it worth getting through. With that, we say “Farewell Ultimate Universe,” and “Welcome to Earth-616 Miles Morales, hope you survive the experience!”

Miles Morales

Anthony Composto - EIC
Anthony Composto - EIC
Editor-in-Chief for Monkeys Fighting Robots. A lifelong fan of Spider-Man and the Mets, Anthony loves an underdog story. He earned his B.A. in English because of his love for words, and his MBA because of his need for cash. He considers comics to be The Great American Art Form, and loves horror movies, indie dramas, action/thrillers, and everything in between.