Comics
Published September 25, 2023

10 Moments That Defined the Marvel Universe

Ahead of the Maker’s quest to make his own Marvel Universe in ‘Ultimate Invasion’ #1, revisit some key and major moments in Marvel Comics history.

The Maker may have started out as the heroic young Reed Richards of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, but he has morphed into one of the Multiverse’s greatest threats.

[RELATEDMeet the Maker, Mister Fantastic’s Dark Doppelganger from the Ultimate Universe]

From cover image to ULTIMATE INVASION (2023) #1 by Bryan Hitch.
From cover image to ULTIMATE INVASION (2023) #1 by Bryan Hitch.

In ULTIMATE INVASION (2023) #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Bryan Hitch, Alex Sinclair, and Andrew Currie, the Maker seeks to create a universe of his own by rewriting and/or completely erasing key moments in Marvel Comics history. And only few of his universe’s heroes and villains stand in the way between the Maker and his final design. 

Now, we’re taking a closer look at some of the moments that changed the course of the Marvel Universe, plus how they echo into ULTIMATE INVASION. See what played out in the main Marvel Universe, then see how these moments were altered in the Maker’s new world—AKA Earth-6160.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR’S FIRST MISSION

On Earth-616, the primary Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four was born when Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm were exposed to cosmic rays in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Eager to test their experimental rocket, Richards, the Storm siblings, and Grimm stole the ship and made an unauthorized trip into space, where they flew through a passing storm of cosmic radiation that bombarded their spacecraft and changed their bodies irreparably. After the group returned to Earth and discovered their respective powers, the Fantastic Four became celebrated heroes and renowned explorers who helped kick off a new age of super heroes. But in the Maker’s world, the launch of the Fantastic Four’s rocket was delayed by a few hours, which meant that the would-be Fantastic Four never encountered the cosmic storm that gave them powers…or the chance to become heroes.

The space mission that gave the Fantastic Four their powers in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1.
The space mission that gave the Fantastic Four their powers in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1.

PETER PARKER’S RADIOACTIVE SPIDER BITE

The Marvel Universe changed forever when the class of Midtown High School took a field trip to the New York Hall of Science. At a demonstration of Doctor Eric Schwinner’s Isotope Genome Accelerator, an irradiated spider bit class wallflower Peter Parker and set him on the path to becoming Spider-Man in AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. While the teenage Parker kicked off his web-slinging career shortly after this, the spider also bit his classmate Cindy Moon, who would emerge as the web-slinging Silk years later. But in the Maker’s world, the rogue Reed Richards stopped the spider moments before it could bite Parker or anyone else. As he sealed it in a test tube, the Maker mocked an unaware Parker by telling him that he had the power—and the responsibility—to stop Parker from being bitten in ULTIMATE INVASION #1.

The moment that changed Peter Parker’s life in AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15.
The moment that changed Peter Parker’s life in AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15.

HOWARD STARK AND THE STARK LEGACY

Long before Iron Man took his first flight, the Stark family changed the world. Much like his son, Tony, Howard Stark was a generational genius, and he used his extensive knowledge to shape the early days of the Marvel Universe. Beyond building Stark Industries and pushing the limits of his era’s technology, Howard was instrumental in forming S.H.I.E.L.D. as revealed in S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) #6 by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver. After his father’s death, Tony inherited Stark Industries and carried on his father’s work of saving the world through engineering by becoming Iron Man and co-founding the Avengers. In the Maker’s world, Howard Stark and his longtime business associate Obadiah Stane are still captains of industry, and each has their own Iron Man armor. And in this world, Howard Stark’s greatest legacy may be the Immortus Engine, a time machine that he’s destined to build for the Maker—even though he does not understand it yet.

Variant cover to S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) #5 by Dustin Weaver.
Variant cover to S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) #5 by Dustin Weaver.

THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE

In the Marvel Universe, the Avengers assembled for the first time to capture the Hulk after Loki made the world think that the Green Goliath was on a destructive rampage. When the teenage Rick Jones radioed for help, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man: Hank Pym, and the Wasp answered the call in AVENGERS (1963) #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Once Loki was revealed to be the actual cause of the destruction, all the heroes agreed to team up together as the Avengers, where dozens of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would eventually unite to battle threats that were too big for any of them to deal with on their own. In his new universe, the Maker helped Loki ascend to the throne of Asgard and imprison Thor before destroying the Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge that connects Asgard to Earth. In addition to cutting off Thor from Earth, the Maker also kept Loki from giving the Avengers a reason to exist in the first place.

The Avengers assemble in AVENGERS (1963) #1.
The Avengers assemble in AVENGERS (1963) #1.

THE KANG DYNASTY

After battling the Avengers across time for years, Kang became one of the first villains to conquer Earth-616 in “The Kang Dynasty” storyline, starting in AVENGERS (1998) #41 by Kurt Busiek, Alan Davis, and Mark Farmer. This arc saw Kang and his son Marcus, the Scarlet Centurion, successfully take over the world from the sword-shaped Damocles Base space station. By calling on his modern-day allies and using his far-future technology, Kang destroyed major landmarks, devastated cities, and ultimately compelled the Avengers and the rest of the world to surrender. But after taking control over the technology of several villains, the Avengers kicked off a successful resistance that left Kang and his forces defeated. While the Maker may seem like he has a similar iron grip over his world, a version of Kang stands as the biggest threat to the Maker’s plans…

[RELATEDLooking Back on ‘Avengers: Kang Dynasty’]

Kang takes over Earth from his Damocles Base on the cover to AVENGERS (1998) #49.
Kang takes over Earth from his Damocles Base on the cover to AVENGERS (1998) #49.

THE BIRTH OF THE ULTIMATE MARVEL UNIVERSE

Like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the Maker hails from the Ultimate Marvel Universe, AKA Earth-1610, where Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, the X-Men, and many other Marvel heroes emerged in contemporary times. Many of the Ultimate Universe’s heroes, including mutants and the Hulk, have origins that can be traced back to attempts to create the Super-Soldier Serum during World War II, as revealed in ULTIMATE ORIGINS (2007) #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Butch Guice. Although it featured many familiar names from Earth-616, this history of the Marvel Universe took a different path until its destruction in SECRET WARS (2015). Now, the Maker wants to return to the Ultimate Universe, this time recreating it to his specifications. But to the Maker's surprise, the Super-Soldier Serum and Captain America seemingly never existed in this world.

The Ultimate Marvel Universe on the cover to ULTIMATES 2 (2004) #12.
The Ultimate Marvel Universe on the cover to ULTIMATES 2 (2004) #12.

MARVEL’S ILLUMINATI MEET

On their own, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Black Panther, Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Namor the Sub-Mariner have all saved the world dozens of times. But when they joined forces, these heroes and their allies have guided the shape of the Marvel Universe as the Illuminati since their debut in NEW AVENGERS (2004) #7 by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven. Since they first came together following the Kree/Skrull War, the Illuminati have quietly dealt with existential threats like the Beyonder and the Infinity Gems. The Illuminati were also the only heroes to realize that the Maker had escaped from his imprisonment, unsuccessfully trying to stop him as he escaped in ULTIMATE INVASION #1. In the Maker’s world, the Illuminati are even more powerful than their Earth-616 counterparts. As decreed by the Maker, these Illuminati members rule geographic parts of their planet and maintain peace by having performative wars and conflicts with each other.

The Illuminati introduce themselves in NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI (2006) #1.
The Illuminati introduce themselves in NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI (2006) #1.

MEET THE MAKER

Before the Maker was a threat to the Multiverse, he started out as the Ultimate Universe’s Reed Richards. After a brief career with the Ultimate Fantastic Four as Mister Fantastic, Reed took a dark turn after ULTIMATUM (2008) devastated his world. It didn’t help that Sue Storm rejected his marriage proposal, the FF broke up, and he was given knowledge of Earth’s doomed future. With a hyper-evolved army at his side, Reed resurfaced as the Maker in ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES (2011) #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić. As the Maker searched for a future beyond the Ultimate Universe, his mind was scattered into bodies throughout the Multiverse during SECRET WARS (2015), and he eventually resurfaced on Earth-616. After seemingly using symbiotes to return to the Ultimate Universe, the Maker stole the Illuminati’s technology to travel to a new world in ULTIMATE INVASION, where he is now rewriting history to his liking.

The identity of the Maker revealed in ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES (2011) #4.
The identity of the Maker revealed in ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES (2011) #4.

THE INCURSIONS AND SECRET WARS

In the lead-up to SECRET WARS (2015), the Marvel Multiverse began collapsing as parallel realities collided into each other. In the prime Marvel Universe, Earth-616, the heroes of the Illuminati and the villains of the Cabal all realized the Incursions were happening and tried to protect their world by destroying other realities. In the Ultimate Universe, the Maker came to a similar conclusion and destroyed dozens of realities to help his world survive. Despite those efforts, the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe crashed into each other in the final Incursion in SECRET WARS (2015) #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić. When Doctor Doom forged the remnants of the Multiverse into a realm called Battleworld, the Earth-616’s Illuminati, the Maker, and a few other survivors from both universes survived. By working together, they were ultimately able to stop Doctor Doom and lay the foundation for a new Multiverse, including the world that the Maker has taken for his designs.

The Incursion begins in 2015’s FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: SECRET WARS.
The Incursion begins in 2015’s FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: SECRET WARS.

KRAKOA AND THE HOUSE OF X

While the Marvel Universe slept, mutants changed the world. After years of being hated and feared, Professor X, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggert brought the world’s mutants together to form the nation of Krakoa in HOUSE OF X (2019) #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz. Where previous efforts to establish a mutant nation had failed, Krakoa exported medicine to the global human world, enshrining its place in the international community. Under the leadership of the twelve-member Quiet Council, the mutants of Krakoa tried to build a lasting society on their island home. In the Maker’s reality, mutants like Colossus, Magik, Omega Red, Sunfire, and the Silver Samurai are part of the Illuminati and rule their areas of the world, which keeps mutants from uniting and centering their power in one place.

The foundation of Krakoa in HOUSE OF X (2019) #6.
The foundation of Krakoa in HOUSE OF X (2019) #6.

Want to revisit these key moments in Marvel Comics history? Join Marvel Unlimited today to read all comics mentioned here—including 30,000+ digital issues—all on one app.

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