***This article contains copious spoilers for the entirety of Age of Ultron.***
With Age of Ultron #10 now on sale, readers saw a break in the space-time continuum that resulted in, among other things, the classic Marvel Universe version of world-eater Galactus arriving in the Ultimate Universe, to be detailed in the Hunger miniseries.
Both the end of Age of Ultron and the start of Hunger are the subject of the latest Marvel conference call with the comic book press, scheduled to start at around 3 p.m. eastern. Both Age of Ultron writer Brian Michael Bendis and Hunger writer Joshua Hale Fialkov will be on the line, plus Marvel editors Tom Brevoort and Mark Paniccia. We'll be updating this page with live details, so keep hitting refresh for the latest. Courtesy of Marvel, plenty of art from Hunger is here.
Bendis starts the call by discussing Angela's appearance in the final pages of Age of Ultron, saying that, contrary to some speculation that he's heard, the character is indeed Angela from Spawn, not a disguised Jean Grey or Miracleman. Bendis all called Wednesday a "roller coaster" due to the wide-ranging reaction he received to the issue.
"The question was, what's the craziest thing that could fall into the Marvel Universe, that we could do legally?" Bendis says. "Brian wanted Rom in the worst way," Brevoort interjects.
"Joe [Quesada] called me out of the blue and said, 'Hey, you worked for Todd, do you remember Angela? You can have Angela!' Well, that's about the craziest thing I've ever heard," Bendis relates. "This was exactly the kind of craziness I was looking for."
Bendis says he's also excited by "bringing something to the Ultimate Universe that wasn't there before." "What's the biggest, craziest villain that we can do? [Matt] Fraction actually said, 'You know what would be great? You turn that page, and there's Galactus.'"
"You really want things to happen that are unique and special, even if they are confusing to the reader in the moment," Bendis says, stating that these moments are full of distinctly Marvel promise.
Fialkov on Hunger: "I wished really hard to get to do the coolest thing possible to the Ultimate Universe, and I was allowed. Who knew? I'm a huge Jack Kirby nut, and I especially love Galactus. Galactus is all over my office."
"The Ultimate Universe has seen its share of weird stuff," Fialkov continues. "Everything they've seen has sort of logical roots. Yes, there's been giant spaceships in the air, but after you've seen a guy in a robot suit fly around, OK, that makes sense." Yet Galactus is "so far beyond the experience" of the Ultimate characters, that it gives the opportunity to tell "crazy new stories."
Fialkov says the story is bringing a sense of "wonder" to the Ultimate Universe that wasn't there before, but with the same groundedness that has characterized the line through its history.
The Ultimate version of Rick Jones is a focus character of Hunger. "Brian really created a unique take on Rick Jones that really worked. He's sort of Spider-Man to the extreme. With great power comes something that ruins your life. Rick has been off in space, doing his thing and minding the store," when Galactus shows up and sends things into chaos."
Issues #2 and #3 features cosmic Ultimate characters that haven't been seen in a while. "One of the things Brian and I have talked about a lot is cohesiveness," Fialkov says.
Bendis says this is a Galactus story unlike readers have seen before, and compared it to Ultron's victory at the onset of Age of Ultron. Bendis says the story is "horrifying" and "exciting," "fulfilling the promise that Jack Kirby started many decades ago."
"Also the fallout of when they figure out where it came from," Bendis says. "They can't send it back. How can they, and will they even, get away from this?"
First press question, from CBR: How does the story deal with the fact that there is also a version of Galactus in the Ultimate Universe (Gah Lak Tus)? "Pretty quick, the two are going to become aware of each other, and it's really, really cool," Fialkov answers.
Next press question, from The Beat: What's fun about writing Angela, for Bendis? "She's this force of nature that's heading towards us, and doesn't understand how she got here or why she's here," Bendis says. "Because of her warrior way with a very singular motivation, she's a very, very caustic character who will not put up with this kind of nonsense that's going on in the Marvel Universe easily. So right away she's a very angry, and rightly so, fish out of water."
Angela is heading to Earth, which is the Guardians of the Galaxy's jurisdiction — but they don't know the type of power levels they're dealing with, Bendis says. Her role in the Marvel Universe will "slowly reveal itself." "We're all very excited," Bendis adds. "When will this ever happen again?"
Next press question, from Word Balloon: Is the butterfly effect going to change any characters? "Not everyone knows what happened," Bendis replies. "Those ramifications, for those people who are some of the biggest brains at Marvel, will continue on, including what's going on with The Beast on All-New X-Men. It trickles over into Battle of the Atom, which is coming in September. Plus, we have some time and space-displaced characters trickled all over the Marvel Universe," implying that their "fates" might be in trouble.
Next press question, from us: "I highly recommending reading both, and not just because I demand people's love and praise," Fialkov says, jokingly. "Each book certainly stands on its own. Brian and I have been talking about this story for months and months and months now. So the story that we're telling in Ultimates is certainly a story that's heading towards something."
Bendis praises Fialkov's work, saying that when he and Mark Millar started in the line in 2000 they were "punks," and that he and Marvel take pride in building writers up through the line — citing Jonathan Hickman and Sam Humphries, and saying that Fialkov is in that tradition.
"This Hunger gig is a perfect example of what he has to offer comics, and it's fun to watch it happen behind the scenes," Bendis says.
Paniccia says that Fialkov is "perfect for this project," due to his respect and admiration for the Ultimate line.
Next question, from IGN: Does this tie-in to the ending of Spider-Men, with Peter Parker discovering something about the classic Marvel Universe version of Miles Morales? Bendis says he doesn't want to spoil too much, but there's a lot of big things coming, including big things with Miles Morales. "Because it's the Ultimate Universe, it's almost our obligation to pay it off in a way fans haven't seen before." Bendis says that the fact that people on both universes will realize that there's a "door" and "something on the other side" will be significant.
"Because the Ultimate Universe is such a tight line of books, we can do a lot of tight planning," Bendis adds.
Next press question, from Marvel.com: Who will be in the cast of Hunger, other than Rick Jones and Galactus? Fialkov says the main cast will feature the emperor of the Chitauri, "an Accuser from the other side," "a naked guy in a surfboard," plus one more character he wants to leave as a surprise.
"[Rick Jones] was always us staring in," Fialkov says, expressing his belief that the character helps ground the series.
Due to the Gah Lak Tus swarm, Paniccia says "there's not a lot of bones to pick over" for Galactus, which makes Earth an appealing target.
Going back around, another question from CBR: Is there still more ground to be broken in regards to introducing classic Marvel Characters into the Ultimate Universe? Bendis says there definitely is, and cites the recently-introduced-to-Ultimate Comics Cloak and Dagger as some of "the most requested characters" for the Ultimate Universe, who will help "reshape the Ultimate Universe into something very different than the Marvel Universe."
Question from the Associated Press: Is the potential there for something even bigger between the Ultimate Universe and the Marvel Universe to follow Hunger? "That is a very observant question," Bendis says. "I think at the very end of Spider-Men, the promise of more things to come between the Ultimate Universe and the Marvel Universe, a door we had not opened for 13 years until we had something very special and unique, the promise is so huge — and here comes this other gigantic piece, Galactus. You're very right to think about it."
Next question, from Word Balloon: How much more "real" do cosmic stories need to be in the Ultimate Universe? Fialkov cites Rick Jones as an example, and "a palpable sense of new" that he'll feel when he sees Galactus — rather than if it would happen in say, Guardians of the Galaxy, where they're used to it.
Next question, from us: What's the balance in doing stories universe-interacting stories like Hunger, while not diluting what makes the Ultimate Universe unique?" Making sure each one of these is special," Bendis says, comparing to it how Marvel/DC crossovers were exciting at first, and then became routine. "I think with the Ultimate Universe in particular, people are expecting an outcome that is concrete," adding that in the Ultimate Universe, Earth might actually get eaten. "You don't want to trade that feeling already. You want it to seem very special."
"These guys have built this vibrant, thick universe," Fialkov says. "There's a lot of that stuff still left to be explored."
Brevoort says that part of the motivation to create the bridge was that "for all the good work that people had been doing in that universe for many years, because we were focusing our promotional attention in so many places, that people tended to overlook [the Ultimate Universe]." Thus, stories like Spider-Men and Hunger are designed to bring more attention and promise to the Ultimate Universe within Marvel as a whole.
Next question, from IGN: Will there be fallout of what Wolverine and Invisible Woman experienced in Age of Ultron? "They're not going to be on the same track for a while," Bendis says. "But more and more, Wolverine has been the centerpiece for some pretty gigantic things. He's carrying with him some pretty big things. He had to kill himself. That's not something you can just walk away from. These are some pretty heavy things. He's going to be taking these things through him into the X-books and beyond. There's a lot that's going to be happening with Wolverine, both physically and mentally, going forward. There's a lot of spiritual journey for Wolverine going forward."
Last question, from Marvel.com: Will any of the other Ultimate titles tie-in to Hunger? There are no "immediate" tie-ins, Marvel sales and marketing's James Viscardi says. "Because most of Hunger takes place in space, you're going to see [consequences] down the line, after Hunger ends." "The fallout from Hunger is huge," Bendis says. "Absolutely, 100 precent we'll feel it in the other books."
To wrap up: Hunger #1 is out in July. That's it. Thanks for reading!