Will “Ultimate Cataclysm” end Marvel’s Ultimate Universe?

(CBR) “This is the biggest thing that”s happened to the Ultimate Universe,” writer Brian Michael Bendis told attendees at Comic-Con International’s Ultimate Comics panel Friday afternoon in San Diego. But does big mean last for Marvel Comics sub universe?

For months, the line that has been a part of the publishers slate of monthly books for over a decade, has been plagued by rumors that it will soon end. Then, with Comic-Con, came word of “Ultimate Cataclysm” — a new event series by original “Ultimate Spider-Man” creative team of Bendis and artist Mark Bagley. With the world-eating god Galactus having slipped from the original Marvel U to the world of the Ultimates, it truly looks like the newer, grittier universe may not be long for this world.

To investigate further, CBR News reached out to Ultimate line Senior Editor Mark Paniccia for some clues as to exactly what “Cataclysm” is, if it serves as the true last stand for the Ultimates, why reuniting Bendis and Bagley was essential for the series and what tie-ins will follow alongside the event.

CBR News: For a few months, people have been wondering aloud whether the Ultimate line was not long for this world, and now you’re coming out with a series billed as “The Ultimates Last Stand.” Is there any way in which this serves as a capper to the Ultimate Universe?
Mark Paniccia: Hmm, you always challenge me to be editorially tricky, Kiel. But I’m up for it! Let me say this, there are some stunning resolutions coming across all the titles!
Regardless, this definitely seems like a celebration of the birth of the line and where it’s come from. Not only are we focusing on a last stand for the premier super team of the Ultimate U, but it’s also a reunion for original “Ultimate Spider-Man” team of Bendis and Bagley. How much did you guys talk about this serving as a testament to the universe as a whole?

It was really important to Brian and me that this resonate on several levels. Mark Bagley is kind of the Jack Kirby of the Ultimate U. He’s one of the first people you think of when it comes to the line. The fact that enough stars aligned for him to be part of this was a comic book miracle!

On the story front, Galactus is going to be looming large in this series — literally. Can you tell us a little about the handoff between this series and the “Hunger” book that Josh Fialkov and company are doing? How do they work together and how are they separate?

In “Hunger,” Josh does a great job of establishing how much of a threat Marvel’s Galactus is to the Ultimate Universe and how much his arrival upsets the cosmic balance on a cosmic level and a very human level. It shows the ramifications he has to the inhabitants of what is a very different cosmic landscape from Marvel. In the Ultimate Universe, the Gah Lak Tus swarm has destroyed countless worlds to the point where there are only a few prominent races left. While those races have been able to stay one step ahead of the swarm, the fact that it’s now working in tandem with Marvel’s Galactus could mean the end for them.

There’s a really cool scene at the beginning of “Hunger” where Josh establishes that the Ultimate Universe is vast and mostly void of life. I like that difference between the UU and the very populated Marvel Universe. It’s cold and deadly — haunted almost.

As this is an event in many ways, how will it be impacting the Ultimate line in terms of publishing?

“Cataclysm” is a five issue mini over the course of three months. It will be supported by three mini-series tie-ins with our main books, “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “Ultimates.”

Overall, the going rate for the Ultimate Universe the past few years has been the idea that it’s a dangerous place where anything can happen that we don’t see in the regular Marvel U. Does “Cataclysm” live up to that promise?

Oh, most definitely. There are going to be some tears shed, for sure.