Writing Marvel's ULTIMATES in a Post-AVENGERS Movie World
Since last July's one-shot self-published sensation, Our Love Is Real, writer Sam Humphries has had a lot of big days — the day his next self-published series (Sacrifice) debuted, the day his first Marvel book was released (John Carter: The Gods of Mars), and the day he was announced as both the co-writer and eventual sole writer of The Ultimates, taking over for Marvel superstar Jonathan Hickman. The biggest day in his comic book career thus far might be this Wednesday, May 9, as both his first issue of Marvel's Ultimate Comics Ultimates (#10, preview here) and Higher Earth, his new science-fiction saga at BOOM! Studios, see release. Seeing as how Higher Earth, which debuts with a $1 first issue, is the writer's first ongoing series of his own creation, and The Ultimates is a major influence of the box office record-breaking The Avengers film, both are fairly big deals for Humphries, still fairly new to the game. Newsarama talked up Humphries via email to learn more about both books, what helped to inspire Higher Earth, and get his opinion on how the Marvel Studios films relate to what he's doing on Ultimates. (And in news sure to rock the Internet, Humphries reveals what popular genre of music the Ultimate version of Steve Rogers is currently pumping.) Newsarama: Sam, let's start out as topically as possible. The Avengers movie is now out and seems to be pretty popular, and clearly it's influenced in many ways by The Ultimates, from Nick Fury to the Chitauri. Obviously the status quos are very, very different at this point, but what do you think fans of the movie Avengers will recognize in what you're doing with Ultimates?
Sam Humphries: All the main characters! With Captain America coming back this summer, we've got the Avengers trinity united: Cap, Thor, and Iron Man. Plus Black Widow and Hawkeye, both of whom are going to continue to play big roles in the book.
cover.Nrama: Also, when you're writing characters like Nick Fury or Tony Stark, how much is the voice of their Marvel Studios counterparts in your head?
Humphries: That's a difficult question to untangle. By way of example, the voice of Ultimate Nick Fury is a huge influence on the Marvel Studios Nick Fury. I write Nick as a character first, but I keep his voice consistent with past Ultimate story lines, which the movies have more-or-less picked up for their own use. So where does it all start and end? I think the only clear answer is I wrote the Avengers movie and obviously I deserve all the credit.
Nrama: Your first issue of Ultimates — #10, is out this week. Was it challenging or awkward at all to come on board in the middle of a story arc? Or did that actually help in the transition between you and Jonathan Hickman?
Humphries: Well, a little of both. If you read Ultimates #9, you know that Hickman destroyed Washington D.C. It was helpful because there was immediately a ton of story to tell. "What should we do?" was never a problem. It was always more, "How can we fit it all in here?" It was awkward because… well, he blew up D.C. The government is gonna be pissed when they read this.
Nrama: On the horizon is "Divided We Fall," starting with the return of Ultimate Captain America in July. Wthout getting spoiler-y, how has his time off-panel changed him?
Humphries: He is a huge dubstep fanatic now.
Humphries: Biagini is a maniac. I love his art on the book. He can tackle out-there ideas and capture delicate human emotions. It's important to Higher Earth to be able to deliver both, and Biagini nails it.
Nrama: Being sci-fi, it looks like you're definitely incorporating at least a foundation of "science" along with the "fiction" for Higher Earth. Do you keep tabs on things like space exploration and quantum physics?
Humphries: I do, because I'm a giant nerd that likes to consume nerdy things. But in the process of writing Higher Earth, I try not to get too bogged down in the technical details. The point is not how it works, but how it changes the people involved.
Nrama: It looks like though Higher Earth is full of far-out concepts, it's grounded by the story of the two main characters. How important is the balance between the big ideas and the more relatable human element?
Nrama: Higher Earth is an ongoing, but how long of a story are you looking to tell?
Humphries: It's a long-form story with a definite ending in mind, but we're closer to that ending than many readers might thing. We came out of the gate like a bullet train and we're going to keep that going until we read the bloody end. Probably 20-30 issues.More from Newsarama:
- Who's Dead, Who's Evil: What Makes ULTIMATE Marvel Unique
- C2E2 2012: 'Divided We Fall' For Marvel's ULTIMATE COMICS
- Indie Writer Explores New Worlds with JOHN CARTER, ULTIMATES
- Sam Humphries Repeats Self-Published Success with SACRIFICE
- Bizarre Love Quadrangle: Warped One-Shot OUR LOVE IS REAL