This week's Ultimate Comics Ultimates #13 brings both the start of the "Divided We Fall" storyline and the return of Captain America, in hiding since 2011's "Death of Spider-Man" arc due to his guilt over Peter Parker's death.
Ultimate Cap returns to action just as the nation in his alias plunges into further disarray, as the chaos that first started in Ultimatum has progressed to a point where the United States is quite literally falling apart: The elected government is gutted, the southwest is controlled by Sentinels, Texas is armed with nukes, and general chaos is prevailing throughout the country, as illustrated by a map that runs at the front of the issue.
"Not only is he a man who has to question what the hell he is doing in the 21st century," series writer Sam Humphries said to Newsarama about Captain America, "He's questioning why he's a superhero, and why they all put on tights together, and go out and do these things that they do. Now that they've seen the sad ending of one of their greatest heroes, that puts it all in doubt."Exclusive interior
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#14.Humphries — who agrees with Jason Aaron's assessment that Ultimate Cap is a bit more of an "a**hole" than the classic version of the character — said that "Divided We Fall" is poised to put Captain America in unique situations that reveal a different side of both the character, and his Ultimates teammates.
"He's Captain America. He's not a talker," Humphries said. "It's going to be a challenge for those around him as well, and it's been fun to write Cap as the wildcard of the team for once."
Marvel has also been promising a major development coming in September's "Divided We Fall" tie-in issues, with Captain America making an unrevealed "decision" that's being billed as something never before been seen in mainstream comics."This is a storyline that we thought abut long and hard," Humphries said. "It wasn't a storyline that we decided to do lightly. Marvel had reservations about; they wanted to proceed very carefully, and they wanted to make sure we did it right. It's definitely something that you couldn't get away with in the regular Marvel Universe.
"It's a story that comes directly out of 'Divided We Fall,' Humphries continues, "And what's been happening in America within the Ultimate Universe. It's Cap's return. He's found America to be a total, complete mess, and it's about what he decides to do from that point on."Captain America isn't the only character playing a notable role in Ultimate Comics Ultimates #13, which also briefly shows a ring-wearing character named Morez with multi-colored eyes — who certainly appears like he could be the story's as-yet unnamed villain, though Humphries declined to confirm — and depcits the classic Avengers trinity of Captain America, Thor and Iron Man back fighting together in the Ultimate Universe.
"It's awesome," Humphries said. "They've all been through a lot, and America's going through a lot. It's a moment for them to really start figuring out what they are going to do as superheroes, and as figures in these worlds."One character that looks to be remaining M.I.A. for the near future is Nick Fury, with Humphries characterizing his status as an "open question."
"I think the only thing we can say about Nick is that he's hiding," Humphries said. "Nick is a guy that's been around long enough to now that when there are coups like this in S.H.I.E.L.D. they don't keep former directors around to meddle in plans. When S.H.I.E.L.D. is ripped out from under you, they really want to lock you away in a deep, dark place — or they're just going to go ahead and kill you."
Though a multi-pronged event that runs through September and also unfolds in Ultimate Comics X-Men and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, all those involved in "Divided We Fall" are quick to point out that it's not a crossover in the classic sense, as each individual series is intended to stand on its own."You've got Ultimate Spider-Man, which is the world through the eyes of a boy becoming a man," Humphries said. "You have Ultimate X-Men, which is a more ground-level perspective on things. And you have The Ultimates, which is the big, wide-scoped, seeing everything from a mile up. We're able to reflect the same crisis that's happening in America from three very different perspectives. When you put all three of them together, they paint a full picture, but each book tells its own story by itself. "
Ultimate Comics Ultimates #13 is also Humphries' first solo credit on the book, after co-writing with previous series writer Jonathan Hickman for a few issues. It's also the first solo work-for-hire superhero comic, period, for the Higher Earth and John Carter: Gods of Mars writer, making his debut — at the onset of a large-scale event — especially auspicious.
"It's exactly like being thrown into the deep end of the pool, but it's been great," Humphries said, adding that he's been working closely with both Ultimate Comics X-Men writer Brian Wood and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis. "I've got an incredible editorial team. I've got Hickman — we're not co-writing it anymore, but he's still giving me advice, and warning me away from stubbing my toes on some obvious things. I've got Bendis and Wood. There's a good team in my corner."Also on that team is veteran artist Billy Tan, who illustrated issue #13 and is on board for much of "Divided We Fall."
"He's a dynamite artist," Humphries said. "With a story this big, you need an artist who can carry that out visually, and Billy is delivering in a big way."Humphries acknowledges that there's still not much he can say about "Divided We Fall" and its October-solicited follow-up "United We Stand," but he feels that patient fans will be rewarded. "There's a lot that we're keeping close to our vests for now, but it's all for a good reason," Humphries said. "When we get to the end of 'Divided We Fall,' people are going to want to read the next issue immediately." More from Newsarama:
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- C2E2 2012: 'Divided We Fall' For Marvel's ULTIMATE COMICS