The Ultimates is a fiction group of superhero that appear in comic book published by Marvel Comics. The team was created by writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch, and first appeared in The Ultimates #1 (March 2002), as part of the company's Ultimate Marvel imprint. The team is a modern reimagining of the superhero team the Avengers.
The first volume of the Ultimates, written by Millar and illustrated by Hitch, was published in limited series format and ran for thirteen issues with production delays from March 2002 until April 2004. Hitch described the alternate-reality reimagining as one where, "You have to approach it as though nothing has happened before and tell the story fresh from the start.... We had to get to the core of who these people were and build outwards, so Cap [Captain America] was a soldier, Thor is either a nut case or a messiah ... Banner [the Hulk] an insecure genius, and [superspy Nick] Fury the king of cool".
A second series, also by Millar and Hitch and with similar production delays, was released as and ran 13 issues (Dec. 2004 - May 2007).
In a 2004 interview, Millar outlined the difference between the Ultimates and the Avengers: "The idea behind The Avengers is that the Marvel Universe's biggest players all get together and fight all the biggest supervillains they can't defeat individually, whereas Ultimates 2 is an exploration of what happens when a bunch of ordinary people are turned into super-soldiers and being groomed to fight the real-life war on terror."
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Official Site: Marvel Comics
Links: Wikipedia: The Ultimates Ultimate X Marvel Profile: The Ulimates