It’s been announced that, this summer, Marvel will revive the Ultimate Universe in the four-issue miniseries Ultimate Invasion. The return of the alternate Marvel U might have taken some fans by surprise — it only ended back in 2015, after all — but it’s been a longtime coming… especially to anyone who’s been paying attention to the career of the series’ announced antagonist, the Maker.
For those who haven’t been paying attention to the Maker, a little primer might be in order. After all, he just might end up being one of the main players of Marvel’s 2023 plans by the time the year is over…
Who is the Maker?
Strictly speaking, the Maker is actually Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four — just a different Fantastic Four than fans might be expecting. This particular Richards belonged to the FF of the Ultimate Universe, and debuted in 2004’s Ultimate Fantastic Four #1; unlike the mainstream version of the character, the Ultimate Reed was a child prodigy whose experiments with teleportation technology are sabotaged by a jealous peer — Victor Van Damme, the Ultimate Universe’s version of Doctor Doom — resulting in the creation of that universe’s Fantastic Four.
For a period, Ultimate Reed Richards worked as, for all intents and purposes, a younger version of the regular Reed: an astonishingly smart scientist with stretching powers, exploring the unknown with his best friends. Those were the good days, in retrospect.
So… what went wrong?
The 2008 miniseries Ultimatum was intended as a title that would permanently shake up the Ultimate Universe, offering an easy jumping-on point for new readers while keeping things fresh for existing fans. Quite how successful it was at either goal is topic for discussion to this day, but one thing is for sure: it marked the end of the Ultimate Fantastic Four for good.
In the aftermath of Ultimatum — which featured widescale death and destruction as a result of Magneto’s attempts to murder the entire human race (Don’t worry; he didn’t succeed) — Reed Richards is left a changed man, seeking harsher and more dramatic solutions to problems, including wanting to murder Doctor Doom to prevent any future mischief on his part. After his marriage proposal to the Invisible Woman is rejected, the team disbands and he moves back to live with his family… all of whom are promptly murdered.
The death of the Richards family, it’s later revealed in the so-called Ultimate Enemy Trilogy — three interconnected miniseries, individually titled Ultimate Enemy, Ultimate Mystery, and Ultimate Doom — was part of a plot on behalf of Richards to fake his own death and begin a mission to find… or create… a 'better' world than the one that currently exists. This mission brings him into conflict with his former friends and fellow superheroes, and seemingly ends with his exile in the Negative Zone, injured and scarred by the other members of the Fantastic Four.
So… what about the Maker, then?
Of course, exile isn’t something that keeps supervillains away for any significant length of time. The Maker was the primary villain of writer Jonathan Hickman’s year-long run of the 2011 series Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates, where it’s revealed that the masked villain is actually a returned Richards, roughly a thousand years older than he was when readers last saw him, thanks to a period inside an artificial environment called The Dome, in which time passed at an accelerated rate. He’d picked up some new skills during that time, including the creation of a genetically engineered group of superhumans called the Children of Tomorrow to assist him in his despotic aims.
Despite a millennia’s worth of experience, the Maker wasn’t any more successful in fulfilling his ambitions than in previous attempts, which might ultimately have worked in his favor; it was, after all, only in defeat that he could pretend to have reformed, allowing him entry into the Ultimate Universe’s attempts to survive the incursions that crossed across the entire Marvel line in 2014 and 2015, leading to a little something called… Secret Wars.
So… Secret Wars was a big deal with the Maker?
In its most truncated form, Secret Wars collapsed the entire Marvel multiverse down to one shared planet, before expanding it back out. This is what allowed Miles Morales and other Ultimate Universe characters to cross over into the mainstream Marvel Universe, including the Maker. Free to roam and plot inside a far wilder, more uncontrolled environment than the reasonably constrained, grounded Ultimate Universe, the Maker wasted no time in getting started, becoming a prime mover first in Al Ewing’s 2015 New Avengers series, and then moving over to Ewing’s The Ultimates 2 run a year later.
In both of these runs, the Maker is portrayed as a sinister mad scientist with nebulous and purposefully vague plans that likely involve the restoration of the Ultimate Universe. (Indeed, in The Ultimates 2, he restores a version of the original Ultimate Universe team of the same name; it didn’t go well — they end up turning on him, and vowing to hunt him across parallel universes.) His true intent, however, wouldn’t come into full focus until the character joined the cast of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s Venom series, starting with 2018’s Venom #7.
So… what does the Maker want?
It is eventually revealed that the Maker has joined the Interdimensional Council of Reeds — a group made up of different versions of Reed Richards from across the multiverse, as established by Jonathan Hickman during his Fantastic Four run — and been tasked with returning to, and restoring, the Ultimate Universe as-was. To this end, he’d sourced part of the Venom symbiote from the Ultimate Universe, but needed access to the greater Symbiote Hive Mind to repair it.
That would eventually happen — if in a roundabout, overly complicated fashion that involves appearances in the 2019 event storyline Absolute Carnage — with the Maker last seen in 2020’s Venom #26, apparently back in the Ultimate Universe and very pleased with this outcome. If that’s not enough of a primer for Ultimate Invasion, more was to come in Venom #35, where Eddie Brock explicitly warns the Avengers and other heroes that he believes that the Maker and the Interdimensional Council of Reeds intend to overwrite the Marvel Universe with the Ultimate Universe once and for all… a prediction that certainly sounds as if it ties in with what we know about the summer 2023 storyline.
So… where next?
The Maker’s story will continue in Ultimate Invasion, which launches in June. Tellingly, it’s a series that is teased with the tagline “The transformation of the Marvel Universe begins” — which certainly sounds as if there might be some kind of attempt at universal overwriting going on, doesn’t it…?
Keep up with all things Ultimate Invasion here on Popverse as the series’ launch approaches.
Learn more about Ultimate Invasion ahead of its June debut.