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Ultimate Thanos Wields The Cosmic Cube As Universe's Return Teased

Thanos has long established himself as one of the most terrifying and deadly villains in the Marvel Universe, with Thanos' Motivation and snap leading to the demise of half of the universe. Like most characters, Thanos also has Multiverse variants that are equally as frightening as his prime self. One these is teased in new Marvel Comics art.

On Earth-1610, best known as Marvel's Ultimate Universe, Thanos, who had an similar stony, bleak appearance to DC's Darkseid, was a menacing threat to the Fantastic Four. In that world, Thanos ruled a reality made up of thousands of planets that were in a hidden plane of existence. After finding the Cosmic Cube, he attempted to rule the entire universe but suffered a significant setback after the artifact was destroyed. 

Ultimate Thanos would try to trick Reed Richards into building a new Cosmic Cube, which he did, but when he wielded it, a failsafe killed him. Now, a new variant cover showcases this Mad Titan as the Ultimate Universe is on the verge of returning.

The Ultimate Universe's return appears imminent

Last month, Marvel Comics revealed Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch are teaming up for a new project called "Ultimate Invasion," which teases the return of the Ultimate Universe. This world, which was created to provide new takes and storylines on classic Marvel characters, was destroyed in the "Secret Wars" event, with some characters from the universe, including Miles Morales, making the permanent jump to the main comic book continuity. 

In "Ultimate Invasion," the Illuminati returns as they try to stop The Maker – an evil Reed Richards — from bringing his world back. In the promo art for the miniseries, readers see the return of the Ultimate Universe characters, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk, side-by-side against main Marvel heroes and The Maker. The image also showcases the Illuminati with Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Namor, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Iron Man behind the villain. Meanwhile, Spider-Man appears to play a pivotal role in his plans too.

Hitch, who helped spearhead the original Ultimate Comics line more than two decades ago, told Entertainment Weekly "Ultimate Invasion" was going to have "big-budget, high concept, widescreen storytelling." Hitch also expressed enthusiasm for working alongside Hickman, who helped end the Ultimate Universe in "Secret Wars." Considering Hickman's grandiose storytelling style, the upcoming miniseries should be anything but boring.

New covers hint at the Ultimate Universe's return

In its solicitations for June 2023, Marvel Comics hypes up the potential return of the Ultimate Universe by releasing a series of "Ultimate Last Look" variants featuring versions of heroes and villains from the former reality. Included among the variants are Elektra by Salvador Larroca ("Daredevil" Issue #12), Storm by Adam Kubert ("Storm" Issue #2), and Moon Knight ("Moon Knight" Issue #24) by Mark Bagley. 

One of the most notable variant covers comes from artist Stonehouse, as the Ultimate Thanos returns, and he wields the Cosmic Cube in a cover for "Guardians of the Galaxy" Issue #3. Additionally, there are variant covers from Peace Momoko, Francesco Manna, Juann Cabal, Sara Pichelli, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Pepe Laraz, and Bryan Hitch.

While the Ultimate Universe's comeback isn't guaranteed, the "Ultimate Invasion" miniseries and variant covers seem to be suggesting the reality is returning in the pages of Marvel Comics in some way. Whether the Mad Titan plays a more prominent role in the newly constructed world, as opposed to the one he played in the original story, is to be determined. Regardless, the cover should have Marvel readers excited about what's coming.

 "Ultimate Invasion" #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch arrives in comic book stores in June.