Comics Creators

What if there was no Ultimate Universe?


Simple question. It’s 1999, Marvel comics in the doghouse, DC comics mostly lost, 5 years of turbulence after the bust in the speculation market. Comics like Sandman, Preacher and so on getting all the buzz.

What happens if Millar and Bendis decide to become ice cream salesmen rather than comic writers? Where would the comics industry be today, where would movies be today?

Would Marvel get their act together?
Would a new company emerge?
Would comics start to die?
Would Vertigo become the norm?
Would Wildstorm take over?

I’m really curious to hear opinions.


There’s too many creative, problem-solving brains for comics to die. We always pull a last minute stunt.

I’d have loved to have been an ice-cream salesman in the 00s. Making cones. Eating cones. Chatting up the mums!



I was going to say something similar to Mark. I think Quesada and Jemas would have thought of something else if not the Ultimate Universe.

Worse case scenario would be that Marvel would have had to sell off film rights to more properties to stave off bankruptcy and their cinematic universe would be much more fragmented or stilted.

I think DC would have remained largely stable due to WB’s backing. They’ve ridden out boom/bust cycles like this before.

I don’t know if we would have seen the same revitalization of Image had waited longer to stabilize. I do think something similar would eventually fill that spot though just not in the same timing.


This was my thinking too. Quesada and Jemas had already laid some good groundwork before that point. If it wasn’t the Ultimate Universe it would probably have been something else. Although I think it would have been a great loss - the Ultimate books, particularly Ultimates, were a big part of what got me enthused about Marvel again in the 2000s and got me back into reading comics regularly again. It was the perfect approach for that point in time.

I do think the point about the movies is a good one too - they’ve been a real mix of the Ultimate take with the classic take on Marvel’s characters. I think losing the Ultimate input would have meant that the filmmakers had to work harder to come up with their own modern take on the characters without having one ready-made to pick through.


That would have been an ideal outcome.


Now, I’m not going to say that Millar and Bendis sell Ice cream, they’d been working in comics for awhile at that point and wouldn’t fold.

Would Marvel get their act together?
I’m not sure what the date of the first sale of movie rights was, but I could see them being bought wholesale by Disney or say, Fox.

Would a new company emerge?
I believe Marvel would still be there, but their new owners would want to keep the classics classic, thinking they’re making the fans happy by ending the old series and attempting to reboot them in a more, TV and movie friendly manner. Not that their current shows aren’t hits, but the casual fan runs on the assumption that the shows are following the series when they’re inspired by them.

In this alternative reality, Marvel’s new daddy and mommy would do their best to make what would become the Ultimate Universe the main and only universe, launching movies and TV shows that match. Due to the popularity of Blade at the time, I could see blade being a leading member of their Universe. As for other characters, the X-men, Spider-Man, Hulk have always been big names with big appeal. Now, as for say, Iron Man, Cap and other Avengers. I can only see one of them making it in this marvel, and it would be a Futurama esque debut for Cap, as he’s thawed in the year 2000.

I know this doesn’t sound good, but this is all speculation from one person, thinking as he’s typing, trying to fit things in off memory.

Would comics start to die?
Accoring to people who report on comics they’re always dying.

Would Vertigo become the norm?
I would hope. It would certainly aid DC in beating out Marvel to the TV and movie world which they would hypothetically enter. This is in an era when Hollywood didn’t care at all about the source material. So, we could end up with Keanu Reeves like interpretations of Constantine and more slapshod Vertigo movies that may taint the landscape of their films.

Would Wildstorm take over?
I would like to say yes. That with Marvel doing a hard reboot, most fans would generate towards Image, Wildstorm, Top Cow, Dark Horse, Vertigo and the indy boom would come sooner. Cultivating talent that would then move on to Marvel and DC, who have a streamlined and brand new universe open for interpretation.

Basically, my answer is, things would be kind of the same as they are now, just with Marvel having a matching comics/tv/movie world where the stories intersect as fans want for some reason. DC would put all its TV/Movie efforts into the creative minds at Vertigo, who would do their best battling against Hollywood think their stories aren’t good enough as is. Indy comics would flourish, giving new readers more depth and breath of choices in the mainstream, making comics not just capes to the eyes of the casual. And, as always, people would say that sales would be down and the industry would be doomed.


Ice cream cones have become danged expensive!

If there was no Ultimates, President Trump would be in his fifth term, and we would not be here!


Samuel L Jackson would have worn fewer eyepatchs over the last decade, that’s for sure.


Having met and spoken to Bill Jemas a couple of times I have to mirror some the assessments here. He’s a wonderfully intelligent individual who clearly understands and articulates the major market forces for comic sales. (I’ve also heard some firsthand horror stories about him, so grain of slat…). That being said, The combination of Jemas and Quesada had a deep understanding of the comic market. The turnaround might not have looked like “Ultimate” comics, but they would have had created some vehicle to push through. I’m glad it was “Ultimate” comics, I love that universe and I think it was and still is superior to the general Marvel line.


It would have been pretty amazing if Wildstorm and Vertigo had taken over. However I don’t think the Marvel or DC superheroes will ever really go away, they’re the stuff myths are made of.


I’m more with Mark on this. If they had gone into something else, I think what would have happened was that superheroes would have refocused earlier on capturing the young adult and children’s readership market becoming more like a new Silver Age with heroes resembling Ben 10 or (god forbid) Dragonball Z. Rather than film, the focus would be in animation (I recall WB had a NEW GODS feature in development for years before Wildstorm got hot). Unless, of course, someone ended up making a great Batman film or something. We probably wouldn’t have the Marvel Movies, but Batman Begins didn’t seem that influenced by Wildstorm.