Regular Marvel readers know that the first iteration of the Ultimate Universe roared to a close with the release of Ultimatum #5. With the pending release of the new “Ultimate Comics” titles starting this week, reader curiosity is high as to who’s dead for good, who’s sticking around, and whether or not Mark Millar swears openly in front of his editor’s child. The answers, it turns out, were in ready supply.
Marvel’s Jim McCann asks “Did the bar close?” as Mark Millar arrives. McCann gets things going officially with an enthusiastic crowd by way of introductions. It’s the first panel for Marvel Friday at the 2009 , and with us are Editor Mark Paniccia, Assistant Editor Lauren Sankovitch, and Mark Millar.
Ultimatum #5 has come out, and this is the first panel where Marvel is finally able to discuss the relaunched line. Sankovich notes that with Ultimatum, a lot of things have been changed. “A lot of people have been killed, a lot of people have been irrevocably changed . . [these guys] have really raised the bar . . . with Ultimate Spider-Man, you’re going to get a lot of surprises even in the first issue.”
The first issue of every new series launching will have a “Villain Variant”. Mysterio will be on Spider-Man.
Warren Ellis will be doing Ultimate Armor Wars with art by Steve Kurth. This four issue series is “total Warren Ellis craziness” and “introduces a new surprise villain”.
Ultimates was the best five years and 26 issues of my life, Millar says to laughter.
Ultimate Avengers will have a Red Skull villain variant cover. This Red Skull will be the illegitimate son of Cap from the ‘40s. You’ll see the “Cap sex scene” in issue #2; Cap’s girlfriend has to give the baby up to SHIELD, and this is the result.
“I love Ultimate Hawkeye and Ultimate Cap; I love that he hates the French, you can do stuff with Ultimate Cap that you just can’t do.” Millar also threatens a five page insult to the French in issue #5. He’s probably kidding.
“We’re also changing up teams quite a lot.” Red Skull story is by Carlos Pacheco; the #7-12 issues are Leinil Francis Yu. Millar promises a huge artist coming later for the fourth arc; he calls him the “best –selling artist this decade, I think.”
Millar says, “We’re creating a whole new bunch of characters; we’re creating a new Wasp, a new War Machine. There’s a character called The Spider, that’s a cannibal Spider-Man. There’s an African-American Hulk that’ll have been Bruce Banner’s mentor.”
McCann opens the floor to Q&A.
A fan who hated Ultimates 3 asked about Loeb’s “shredding” of the characters. Millar said, “I actually loved Loeb’s (U3) because it had such a mad energy.” The same fan asks a follow-up about why there would be two Ultimate Avengers books; Millar explains that one will be the super-hero book, and the other will be the “Black Ops” book. It would be the Dark Underside of the Ultimate universe with Ultimate Blade, Ghost Rider, etc.
A woman dressed as Dazzler asks about how Millar is going to treat Spider-Man, and Millar jokes that he wants to treat him badly, like Bendis. He notes that Spidey is really like a “skinny little Bendis with hair”, but then gets serious and explains that Spidey is only in for a limited time.
There will not be any exclusive digital comics from the Ultimate line for the time being.
The core line-up for Ultimate Avengers in the first story is Cap, Iron Man, War Machine, Wasp, Hulk, Nick Fury, and Hawkeye.
A fan asks, “After Ultimatum, who is going to be left?” The response is, of course, “You’ve gotta read!”
In terms of Ultimatum, they reiterate that they really wanted people to see that anything COULD happen in the Universe.
The question: does the Universe work best when it tells story that absolutely can’t be told in the regular Marvel Universe? Millar sees the fundamental behind the line as that, plus accessibility.
McCann emphasizes that Bendis is really excited about creating NEW characters for the Ultimate Universe. Lauren makes the inevitable “Geldof” joke.
The question is asked about some of those new characters, including Tony Stark’s brother and Nick Fury’s ex-wife. Millar loved the idea of Stark’s teetotaler brother who wears white suits and hated Tony.
Asked about pricing, Millar cracks, “If children can afford drugs, they can afford $3.99.”
McCann notes that the $3.99 prices on some books help support books like Incredible Hercules by keeping them at $2.99. Millar ponders price for quality for a moment, wondering if a film like Spider-Man should be worth more than “a crap movie like Wolverine.”
The repercussions of things like the death of Scott Summers will be seen in Ultimate Spider-Man. Lauren emphasizes, “Everything actually happened.” Millar interrupts to ask Lauren, who is suffering from allergy-induced vocal huskiness, to recite Margot Kidder dialogue from . He goes on to explain that he also owns the stuffed dead cat that Superman rescued from the tree in that film. Yes, I wrote that.
Discussion turns back to dead is dead, meriting a reference from McCann. Millar pokes fun at the dead characters, asking if the audience really misses the Wasp anyway.
Millar says, “I love Blade.” He explains that in Scotland they have unlicensed pictures on the sides of ice cream vans. His friend’s dad would paint those characters, and he asked Mark who was big at the time. Millar said Blade, so the man painted a Blade on the side of a truck, holding an ice cream cone instead of a stake.
Any plans for Ultimate cosmic characters? McCann says they’ll be picking up the pieces of Ultimatum for a while.
Back on Blade, McCann asks if he sparkles in the sun and then goes to play softball. The crowd loves this.
“Ultimate Defenders inspired me to do ,” Millar confesses. He goes on to say ideas he had for those characters will inform later volumes of .