WWC: The Ultimate Panel - Countdown to the End?

Ultimatum 01

Click on the arrows to the right to cycle through the art Marvel debuted at the panel.

The Ultimate Universe is all connected.

The Ultimate Universe may be at its end.

These are the two phrases in mind as Marvel presented their Ultimate Universe panel at Wizard World Chicago. Jim McCann was the leader of the pack, joined by C.B. Cebulski, Brian Michael Bendis, writer of Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Origins, and editor Bill Rosemann. Speaking to a nearly full room, the panel got started after some brief technical difficulties with the laptop display. Bill Rosemann joked that the panel is as late as all the Ultimate mini-series to much laughter. Bendis got large applause, shouts, and whistles when introduced as an “architect of the Ultimate Universe.” Due to the technical difficulties, fan questions started the panel, with the slides coming later.

Highlights from the question session:

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk Damon Lindeloff has scripts for issues #4 and #5 in the can, but until #6 is turned in, nothing will be announced.

Ultimate Spider-Man will have shake-ups due to Ultimatum, with cast changes and a tonal shift.

There will be no Ultimate Squirrel-girl “I think that’s what Kirkman pitched, and then he got fired” said Bendis.

Bendis explained that the Ultimate Universe doesn’t really exist as a part of the Marvel “multi-verse,” but is instead an alternate telling of the Marvel Universe. He admitted that the crossover with the Supreme-verse was “having their cake and eating it too,” but doesn’t want to see Ultimate and the main universe ever cross over. He noted that the competition handles their multi-verse differently.

McCann answered “Geldoff” when the panel was asked if something in Ultimate Spider-Man was too weird or too crazy. Bendis mentioned that getting too real is actually the problem. An Ultimate Spider-Man Annual this October will touch on the physical, possibly sexual relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, drawn by David LeFuente, also working on Hellcat.

Ultimate Team-Up is all “canon” aside from the Skrull issue, Bendis clarified.

The panel re-began as soon as the computer was finally fired up, about 15 minutes into the conversation. The covers for Ultimate Origins #1, #2, #3, and #4 were shown, featuring Captain America, Magneto and Hulk. Images from #2 were then shown as Bendis talked about the origins of Origins. The conversation at Marvel started early in the run of Ultimate Spider-Man. As he’s mentioned in the past, the Marvel Universe was birthed of nuclear paranoia, while genetic paranoia connects the birth of the Ultimate Universe. While hinted at, Bendis felt with Ultimatum coming they had to be more overt about the connections. In the series, readers will discover connections between characters that some of them don’t even know. The debut of Ultimate Watcher will also be seen in Origins.

A slide showing Ultimate Spider-Man in the black venom suit facing off against the Ultimates 2 cast of Ultimates was up next. The current arc helps to tie-in the Ultimate Spider-man videogame. Half the arc shows how the game fits into continuity in flash-backs, the other half shows the return of Carnage, Gwen Stacy, and wraps up the symbiotes for awhile. Stuart Immonen delivers a page a day, which Bendis likens to an “Immonen web-comic” in his e-mail.

Ultimatum is up next, showing the Fantastic Four, Doom, Namor, and the Ultimates 3 cast of the Ultimates (with Black Panther and Captain America next to each other on the slide). An “organic but massive disaster” happens to the Ultimate Universe. The disaster will be seen in Ultimate Spider-Man, as well, which Bendis seemed very excited about.

The panel turned back to fan questions at the conclusion of the panel. Bendis first said that Doc Ock’s retelling was his favorite, before changing his answer to Norman Osborn (then having Jim McCann tease Firestar and Dazzler).

A fan asked how the ancient super-powered characters seen in Ultimate Fantastic Four would tie into the genetic paranoia, and was assured they would be, or at least one character would be.

When a disaster hits the Ultimate Universe, since according to Bendis it’s more grounded in the “real world,” the consequences will be much different. Bendis is proud and relieved that Joe Quesada has kept the Ultimate line tight, as the upcoming stories wouldn’t have worked as well.

Will the Midnight Sons show up in the Ultimate Universe? Well, Morbius will be coming back, to the pleasure of one lone clapping fan, but Bendis has no plans for Ghost Rider, as he hates writing him.

Bendis doesn’t consider himself an “architect” as he’s just picking out “the good stuff” from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s creations. He mentioned as well that he had “gargantuan” creative freedom and trust from his bosses since the beginning of Ultimate Spider-man. The first issue he turned in wasn’t actually the plot that was originally green lit.

Rosemann said that editing Ultimate Spider-Man is essentially putting the dash between Spider and Man, correcting Bendis’s multiple punctuation mistakes, and that’s it.

A young child asked Bendis what inspired him to write “Ultimate Comics.” After joking that Marvel paid him to do it, he explained that Jemas’s idea was to simply tell a story about a 15 year old kid getting bit by a spider and gaining powers TODAY instead of 50 years ago. As to the greater inspiration to write comics, he says he does it so he never has to go work at McDonalds again. He hears his manager’s voice 20 years ago saying “There’s always a place for you at McDonalds.”

The way the Ultimate Universe inspires the new Marvel Studios movies is intentional. Favreau had the Iron Man braintrust, consisting of Bendis, Millar, Brevoort, and Alonso, and flew them out asking them what’s right and what’s wrong about the script. He outright told them that he wanted to create the Ultimate Universe in movies. Bendis got the call about Nick Fury’s cameo in Iron Man late at night in Philadelphia last year. He wrote about 3 pages worth of lines, and the movie makers chose the scene that capped the film. McCann re-iterated the collaborative feel of Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics. Cebulski mentioned that Iron Man and Incredible Hulk look like they may hit a billion dollars worldwide.

Bendis talked about the difference between good failures and bad ones, and how lessons can be learned from the good ones.

Peter’s dated a Werewolf (MJ), a Ghost (Kitty Pryde), and a Vampire (Gwen Stacy), as a fan pointed out, and it threw Bendis off. He did say a lot of those plot points will be touched this year, but he was unsure why he had done that.

There will be “a lot of brand new villains” entering the Ultimate Universe. A few characters from the 60s Spider-man cartoons will be showing up, to Bendis’s glee.

Bendis used Venom and the Clone Saga as a writing exercise. He wanted to find what was appealing about things that are also much-hated.

Orson Scott Card is working on the Ender’s Game comic, and will be busy on that before he might come back to the Ultimate Universe.

When asked if DC is ripping them off with the All-Star line, McCann said “they both come out late,” and Bendis said “I’m the goddamn Spider-Man.”

Ultimate Namor will show up soon in Ultimate Fantastic Four to lead into Ultimatum.

Daredevil and Elektra will be returning in Ultimate Spider-Man.

While the Ultimate X-Men are not on the covers shown of Ultimatum, they’re the cover of number 3. The image shown is in fact the covers for issue 1 and 2.

A question about event fatigue led to Bendis saying a book about Daredevil eating a sandwich would be boring, and that it’s cool that a lot of stuff is happening. They’re making sure people will see the ramifications of Ultimatum in the ongoing series.

Will the characters from Ultimate Adventures every come back? “You’re the guy!” said McCann. “No” was the universal answer.

Power Princess from the Supreme-verse will be showing up in October’s Ultimates Annual.

Ultimate Cloak and Dagger will be coming soon in Ultimate Spider-Man. Tandy Bowen does attend Peter’s school.

With that, the panel came to a close, with fans cheering once more for the panelists.

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