After “The Death of Spider-Man” and Ultimate Fallout, the Ultimate line was entirely rebooted for the second time and began to be called “Ultimate Comics.” The new Ultimates title was initially written by Jonathan Hickman.
The title debuted ambitiously, with a storyline focused on the world coming undone in multiple spots. The main villain was none other than Reed Richards, the former Mr. Fantastic who had been made a villain in the “Ultimate Doomsday” trilogy. In the same (somewhat cluttered) storyline, Thor lost Asgard and his fellow gods. Published concurrently, the mini-series Ultimate Hawkeye took place during the new title’s first few issues.
Although promising, Hickman’s run failed to gel. It concluded in issue #12, which saw the defeat of Reed Richards, although the United States had fallen into chaos, including a nuclear attack upon Washington, D.C. Hickman was joined by co-writer Sam Humphries for his final three issues (#10-12), and Humphries took over as solo writer with issue #13.
At the time, Marvel was making an effort to tie together its three Ultimate titles, each of which would reflect that chaos going on across the United States, which had broken apart. The main conflict was left for Ultimate Comics Ultimates, however. A major turning point came at the end of issue #15, when Captain America was elected president (in a write-in vote). After the putative reunification of the country, the second half of the title’s second year had the team meet the missing Nick Fury and fight other bad guys, while also dealing with the fragile state of the union. Humphries departed as writer with issue #24.
During Humphries’ year on the title, Marvel published the mini-series Ultimate Comics Iron Man, timed to coincide with the release of Iron Man 3 in movie theaters. Written by Nathan Edmondson, the mini-series introduced the Ultimate version of the Mandarin, also the villain in the movie. The mini-series casually references the tumult in the main title and is best placed following Humphries’ work, not only to keep it unified but also because such a casual reference would be out of place during the tumult itself.