WonderCon '09 - Marvel's Ultimate Comics Panel

Teaser image from Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine
Teaser image from Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine
Teaser image from Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine

Members of the Ultimate Marvel team got down to business at WonderCon 2009 in San Francisco Friday evening during the Marvel: Ultimate Comics panel. Holding court for Marvel was Senior Editor Mark Paniccia.

After Paniccia sat down to start the presentation and promised to buy back anybody's copy of Chris Claremont's X-Men Forever if they didn't like it, he introduced the panel's special guest, Arthur Adams, revealing that he would be Marvel's newest exclusive artist.

Although he was unable give many specifics on what Adams would be working on, as this project is considered to be top secret at the Marvel offices, he did reveal that it would involve Jeph Loeb.

Moving on to Ultimate Hulk and Wolverine, Paniccia assured everyone present that the title was back on track, showing off some never-before-seen art by Leinil Francis Yu, including a shot of Ultimate She-Hulk. "It's not all about blood, gore, and dismemberment", joked Paniccia as he brought up some interior pencils of Wolverine fighting a panda bear onto the screen, much to the enjoyment of the crowd.

On the subject of Ultimate Requiems, he said those titles are going to be a window to the world of the characters left alive as they look back at the events of Ultimatum. As he showed an image of the Ultimate versions of Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Cyclops he told the crowd that "between one and three of these characters will not be around afterwards". "Ultimate Spider-Man; Requiem will be Mark Bagley's last issue and a great way for him to say goodbye", said Paniccia.

Image from Ultimate Spiderman: Requiem
Image from Ultimate Spiderman: Requiem
Image from Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem

As Paniccia continued, he clarified that after Requiem, the entire line will be rebranded to Ultimate Comics as a fresh start for the entire universe.

During the brief Q&A session, Paniccia was asked what the decision making process behind rebranding the Ultimate Universe was, to which he answered, " The Ultimate line always really seemed to have been the "rockstar" universe, and as a lot of the big names migrated to the 616, there has been lesser known talent on those [Ultimate] books, not less talent, but lesser known, and the decision was made to go back to the universe and make it the gold standard that it was before."

Paniccia spoke anecdotally about how he has had a lot of conversations with people that said they felt that the 616 Marvel Universe had started to feel like the Ultimate Marvel Universe and that in essence they had become competing universes. Paniccia said that he's trying to reinvent a lot of the characters in the Ultimate Universe so that they aren’t "a clone of what you would see in the 616". Art Adams chimed in to say that the book he is working on "is going to be a surprise to a lot of people" in terms of the members of the team, as a lot of them are going to be complete reinventions.

When Paniccia was asked about Ultimate Captain America, he revealed that there are a lot of plans for a post-Ultimatum Captain America, but no solo series since the character would be "hopping around a lot of different books." He did say though, that he would like to see a solo Ultimate Cap series, it wouldn’t be for a while.

Pressed about the Exiles playing a part in the Ultimate Universe, Paniccia said that would be a tall order, as he would have to get clearance to use them in the Ultimate Comics universe.

A couple of times throughout the panel, Paniccia expressed his belief that Magneto's name is always mispronounced, with a fan asking from his seat whether he puts a "magneet" on his refrigerator. Paniccia and Adams started playing with a few other names from the Marvel Universe, including the Sub-Mariner and Havok. "We could go on all day", they said.

The question of what Marvel has against the Wasp was brought up, as she has recently been killed in both the 616 and Ultimate universes. Paniccia said he loved the Wasp, and in the 616 universe she could "get better" but definitely not in the Ultimate universe as the Blob's stomach would need to be pumped to get her out.

According to Paniccia, Ultimate Comics will be a lot more accessible than what the Ultimate line became recently as it is a fresh start for the characters and not under the same limitations that the 616 versions are. He described the policy that if there is a movie coming out with a Marvel character in it, that character must be brought into the spotlight in the 616, but in the Ultimate Universe, anything goes. These characters will be populating four titles under the Ultimate Comics label.

Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four were brought up as being two books that would not continue on under Ultimate Comics. Paniccia said that he feels that after the "catastrophic, earth-shattering" events of Ultimatum, it was a perfect opportunity to give some titles a break. He followed that up by saying that if there ever is another Ultimate X-Men or Ultimate Fantastic Four book, they would figure out how to make them fresh.

Breaking away from the Ultimate Universe for a moment, a fan asked Paniccia what was behind the decision not to start Incredible Hercules with an issue #1. Paniccia said every time Marvel had started a Hercules book it never made it very far into issue numbering so it was an experiment to see what would happen if they continued the numbering from the last time a Hercules book was out.

sketches from an upcoming Ultimate Comics title
sketches from an upcoming Ultimate Comics title
sketches from an upcoming Ultimate Comics title

Art Adams fielded the question of why it seems that both in the "Marvel Proper" (as Paniccia said Joe Quesada preferred the 616 universe be referred) and the Ultimate Universe, marriages never seem to stick. Adams said that he always liked big chunks of the Fantastic Four, but always hated how Stan Lee wrote Reed and Sue Richards' family, with Sue "always crying" but loved how Walt Simonson always portrayed them as a happy family.

Paniccia followed up by saying that often times, a character's marriage is used as a "publicity stunt" and that oftentimes editors will come on to that character's particular book and feel that it ages a character, so the character divorces or the marriage turns out to simply be a dream.

Closing out the panel, Paniccia was asked why Ultimate Rick Jones didn’t appear in Ultimatum, to which he responded, "Keep reading and you will find out!"

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