Nick Fury has fought long odds before from HYDRA, the Skrulls, Loki and his Chitauri army and even S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. But he’s never faced anything like Galactus. But in the recently launched Cataclysm event inside Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, he and Marvel’s heroes are doing just that. So for what could be Nick Fury’s last stand, he’s called in some friends –new and old – to create an Ultimate Howling Commandos.
It all starts this Wednesday in Cataclysm: Ultimates #1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Carmine Di Giandomenico, and sees Fury shake off the big losses to his team and calling in some favors to assemble an Ultimates team that lives up to their name. Fialkov promises Danny Ketch, Emil Blonsky, Cassie Lang, Hercules, Sam Wilson, and “a few surprises,” one of which could be a new character mentioned in solicits: H.O.D.O.K., Hulk Organism Designed Only For Killing. Let that sink in for a little bit, then join us as we talk with Joshua Hale Fialkov.
Joshua Hale Fialkov: Well, after the fallout of the Infinity Gauntlets and Reed Richards taking over the world, there's a bit of chaos out and about in the world, and Nick is tasked with going out with his new team of Ultimates, and putting down and problems that stick their heads up. Sadly, he finds a problem that's all head, so to speak, in M.O.D.O.K. and the Church of Gah Lak Tus who are all pretty excited for the giant purple man in the sky.
Nrama: Now there’s been some shakeups in the Ultimates team in recent months. I see Nick Fury on the front of the first issue, but who all is on the team at this point?
Fialkov: He's got what he's been calling his Howling Commandoes with him. Danny Ketch, Emil Blonsky, Cassie Lang, Hercules, Sam Wilson, and... a few surprises.
Nrama: This team Nick Fury has -- quite an assortment. How would you describe them as a team, and interacting with one another?
Fialkov: These aren't the Ultimates you know, and they barely know each other, other than what they're capable of. So, they don't have the whole communication thing down, I mean, the Punisher doesn't take orders no matter what, y'know? Nor does the Abomination or Hercules or... you get the idea. They're a team because Nick told them they are, not because they like each other or should be together.
Nrama: Nick Fury and the Ultimates have been in his share of extinction-level events in comics. What makes this one different for him?
Fialkov: When Brian Bendis and I talked about this event, the story we wanted to tell was one about scale. This whole thing is a problem so far beyond the understanding of even the smartest members of the Ultimate universe. We've had a lot of global and universal threats, but none are truly 'cosmic' like Galactus. None defy the laws of physics and their basic understanding of the universe as a whole. This is so far above everyone's paygrade that it seems hopeless.
Nrama: In the solicits for #2 there’s some real eye-opening names being dropped: M.O.D.O.K., Hercules, and even H.O.D.O.K. – Hulk Organism Designed Only For Killing. For people who aren’t up on their Ultimate continuity, what can you tell us about these guys?
Fialkov: Ultimate M.O.D.O.K. is not too different from regular M.O.D.O.K., except that he used Gah Lak Tus technology to rebuild his body. Well, now his God has come home to roost/eat. As for Ultimate Hercules, he's a bit of a mystery for now, but, he's got a huge part to play in the not too distant future, if I get my way.
Nrama: Working with you on this is artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, who’s done some great work such as part of Invincible Iron Man #500 as well as Punisher War Zone recently. Since Nick Fury’s always a man who uses who he’s working with to the best of his ability, how are you adapting for Carmine carrying out your script?
Fialkov: After our six issues of Ultimate Comics Ultimates together, I think Carmine and I have a pretty good understanding of what each other is doing. What I see in him is someone capable of drawing epic stuff but with a delicate, human touch. So, I try to not just give him rubble and explosions, but, genuine emotional work to play with, too. It's been so much fun teaming up with Carmine.
Nrama: So working with Carmine, can you describe a particular scene or panel you scripted that you squarely had Carmine in mind to draw -- and what you were aiming for versus how it turned out?
Fialkov: Well, M.O.D.O.K. for example... I think in the Vision miniseries he was a bit sillier than he was scary, but with very little direction from me, Carmine made him downright terrifying. You're going to see him evolve and change and do things that are so gross they hurt.
Nrama: I can’t talk to you about this without asking about the main Ultimates series, which currently has the team trying to deal with the evil Reed Richards and his team tearing down the Earth on their own. How will that color the coming of Galactus?
Fialkov: In a big, big way. We've been working towards this event certainly from the moment I jumped on Ultimates but, really, it's something that Brian has had his sights on for a long, long time. All the pieces are in place, now, we just need to keep the board from falling.