WWLA: Ultimates Directors' Cut

Sun, March 16th, 2008 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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Wizard's Kiel Phegley introduced a SPOILER FILLED panel with writer Jeph Loeb and artist Joe Madureira that was two days late (originally scheduled for 1PM on Friday) and still had people coming in looking for the Marvel Zombies panel that swapped places with it. It wasn't a very big crowd, given the change up and the limited release of the changes.

"Thank you, all nine of you," Loeb said. "By the end of it I'll know your names."

The panel started off with a look at the infamous "sex tape" page from the first issue of Madureira and Loeb's Volume Three. Phegley asked if Madureira had done a lot of research to get that right.

"Jeph was pretty descriptive, exactly what he wanted to see," Madureira said abashedly. "One thing that's funny on this page is the strange placement of that bush in front of Black Panther in panel two. People asked me 'what is he doing?' It does look a little odd. I think we wanted to go a little more risque."

"The idea was to start off with something very provocative," Loeb said, noting that his approach was a departure from Millar's, which seemed to focus more on the violence in the concept. "What I'm saying is that I do sex better than war."

"My daughter goes to a Catholic school, so I'm kind of embarrassed at this stuff in hindsight,"Madureira admitted. "But it could have been worse." Loeb noted that Marvel originally wanted word balloons over some of the art, but that seemed to get forgotten in production.

Loeb also noted Millar's praise for the new direction based on scripts he'd read. "He said it was like watching a Bond movie," Loeb said proudly. "I just assumed he was talking about Daniel Craig and not Timothy Dalton. I did it with Mark, and I made a list of where it was going, and Mark wrote me back saying 'a lot of this is exactly where we were going.'"

The topic of Ultimate Black Panther got dodged the entire time. "I prefer starting stories in the middle of them," noting how "Hush" started with a kidnapping that never got resolved. "This was one of those stories that we were having a lot of fun with. It will all get tied up." Still nothing on UBP? "He's very serious. I see him as the Batman of the group."

The next page examined was Hank Pym's overdose. "It was supposed to be slobber and puke," Madureira said, "but that's another panel people have asked me about. It is supposed to be puke, nothing else."

Loeb noted, "In the script I asked you to draw a tuna fish sandwich, I thought it was mayonnaise."

"I got lazy and didn't put it in," Madureira admitted.

Loeb said that the incest implications between Wanda and Pietro wasn't his idea. "Blame that on Mark, that was not me," Loeb said. "I just took it to the next place." Loeb claimed that Millar had said there would be little difference between Volumes One and Two, and said "Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are still shagging." Loeb believed fans thought this meant owning rugs together.

Wanda's death is another thing entirely. "It was my original pitch," Loeb said. "What's important isn't just that she dies, it's what happens because she dies. The death of a character has a ripple effect throughout what's going on. That's my hinting kind of way to discuss what's going on in 'Ultimatum.'" This probably referred to the Cup o' Jeph panel where it was implied that the hand crushing the earth in the teaser image was that of Ultimate Magneto.

Madureira also made sure that fans noted the doctor standing over Wanda when she was pronounced dead had a gnarled wooden walking stick and a fairly familiar name tag.

A panel was shown with Ultimate Hawkeye gunning for Ultimate Spider-Man. Madureira noted that he didn't pay much attention to Mark Bagley or Stuart Immonen's take on the character, but did slim him down to make him "more tubular." "A lot of the characters, I didn't get to tackle when I was at Marvel before, guys like Thor. For a lot of these guys, it was the first time."

"When he read the first script," Loeb recalled, "he [Madureira] called me and said, 'when do I get to draw Spidey?'"

"And Hulk," Madureira added. "And the ninjas."

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was seen next. "I thought Joe's take on the blob was enormously huge and great," Loeb gushed. "I loved the Madrox because you could just keep killing them."

"I hate that guy," Madureira groaned. "There's always like eight thousand of them coming down the stairs. I'm just like 'silhouette, silhouette' ..."

Loeb said he was a fan of Neil Adams' Lorelei, which led to her inclusion in the Brotherhood. "They should say that it's Storm," he said, looking at the projected art, "but she's white."

When looking at a shot with Ultimate Hawkeye blasting at Ultimate Wolverine, Madureira said, "There's a lot of stuff about the way I used to draw that I hate. I think he [Ultimate Logan] looks older, more weathered. I kept a lot of the same and just updated it a little bit. My style's changed a little bit."

"It was important Wolverine knew the story of how Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch had come together," Loeb said. "I liked this rivalry, that Hawkeye has issues with mutants." Loeb also talked about a still-in-negotiations pitch for an Ultimate Wolverine mini looking at the women in Logan's life and both how and why they all seemed to meet an "untimely demise," and revealed that Havok and Wolverine would meet again in "Ultimatum."

When looking at a page showing the Savage Land, Loeb had to talk about his take on the strange area's origins.

"I thought that the idea that Magneto had created the dinosaurs didn't make a lot of sense to me," Loeb said. "I don't know how you set out to create mutants and make dinosaurs. They didn't have three heads, they were good lookin' dinosaurs. Pietro wasn't protective of Wanda because he thought someone would hurt her, he was protective of Wanda because she could hurt the world. She brought dinosaurs from the past, and showing how powerful she is."

"I thought it was funny," Madureira said of the idea that Wanda's powers made the Savage Land work. "My brother's in danger ... dinosaurs! I wish the whole book was on dinosaurs."

Madureira continued, "When Jeph told me there wouldn't be ninjas, he gave me the dinosaurs. I was influenced by Art Adams, and he would always draw cool dinosaurs. It's fun, I love the Savage Land. Plus there's lots of foliage and stuff, it's easy to draw trees and leaves."

When the surprise Iron Man unmasking scene was shown, Loeb said, "If you've been enjoying the ride, there's more to it. Everything you saw in the first three issues may not be what you saw. I really do believe that when you have something as seminal as the death of a character, you have to have an aftermath, which is why I pushed so hard to write 'Fallen Son.' But remember, this whole story takes place in about two days."

The panel turned to fan questions, and while Loeb said he wanted a long run on this title ("... although my idea of a 'long run' is twenty-five issue ...") that a fan favorite could be back. "I'm not sure Mark won't one day come back to the book," Loeb said.

There will be more Norse gods in the title, Loeb indicated. "Are they gonna be robots?" Madureira asked. Loeb simply looked at him and said "I don't know," before moving on.

A fan in back's next question started out with, "I hate to mention 'Battle Chasers' ..." and then noted what he felt were visual similarities between video game characters and some of what Madureira is doing here. "I totally played Chrono Trigger, and it may have ..." Madureira admitted.

When asked about the look of the coloring, Madureira said, "Early on Chris [Lightner] and I decided to go more painterly, and we were gonna shoot right off pencils. I just scan the pencils and he paints it digitally in Photoshop. We had printing issues in the first issue, and a little bit on the second. The third one looks the way it's supposed to. It's a frustrating process, but now we've nailed it."

"I just use a standard HB lead, a number two pencil," Madureira said of his process. "I don't use blue. It would probably make our lives easier, he could just drop out the blue channel in Photoshop. But he has to manually go in and clean. He stopped doing it, I think all the stray lines add something to it. We decided to start leaving those in."

"I think early on I was very obsessed with keeping stuff really clean, Madureira continued. "My pencils had to be really clean and really tight. My work got a little stiff doing that. Working in games, so much of production art is just banging 'em out. It loosened me up a little. Now i focus more on the energy of the figures and the faces. Since I stopped worrying about keeping it so anal and clean, it took on a whole new look. If you keep drawing as you see things and as you're influenced, it'll happen. Very few guys can pick a style, it'll just evolve. It's hard to say exactly at what point that happened." He noted that he regularly refers to conceptart.org and creators from Japan and Korea in finding new influences.

Loeb revealed that "Ultimates Volume Three" #1 would be reprinted as just pencil art next month. "See how sloppy it is," Madureira groaned.

Loeb teased the big event by saying, "The subtitle of Ultimatum is -- you heard it here first -- the end of the beginning."

"Chew on that, internet," Madureira added.

A fan claimed that the Ultimates were more disjointed and less of a team this time. "I didn't think they could be," Loeb said, noting the issues of betrayal, revelation and loss that marked the end of the last volume. "I just didn't understand how those people were gonna go 'now we're a team, let's all make sandwiches.'" Loeb noted Hawkeye, "who was already psychotic," was an assassin who watched his family being assassinated, which made a flip out "logical." Loeb also said he took inspiration from Stan Lee interviews he said, where Lee claimed he was sick of the "what now, old chum?" bonhomie from that era's "Justice League," and that Stan wanted to write a story about people who hated each other, which became "Fantastic Four."

"I was also very influenced by Scott Lobdell's run with Joe Mad," Loeb said, noting where the previously unstoppable Juggernaut was tossed down and just said, "Onslaught is coming."

"I asked Scott what that meant and he said, 'I dunno.' I do the same thing when I'm working on 'Heroes,' I say, 'That's future Jeph's problem.'"

 
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