In the current “Ultimatum” mini-series, the citizens of Marvel Comics' Ultimate Universe are experiencing perhaps the worst tragedies they've ever endured, as Magneto uses his powers to effect cataclysmic climatic change in the weather across the globe. The thing about tragedies is, they often inspire feats of great heroism. One man will be so inspired by Spider-Man's heroism during “Ultimatum,” that he'll embark upon a quest to get to know the young hero better and tell his story to the world. That man's name is -- J. Jonah Jameson? And his quest will be chronicled by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artists Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen in the two issue event, “Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem.” CBR News spoke with Bendis about the books, volume one of which arrives in May.
In addition to “Ultimate Spider-Man Requiem” books one and two, the effects of “Ultimatum” will be further explored in “Ultimate Fantastic Four: Requiem” and “Ultimate: X-Men: Requiem” “Jeph Loeb destroyed the Ultimate Universe and I wanted a little goodbye to all my hard work,” Bendis jokingly told CBR News. “The last issue of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' is #133. It's very sad. And what the 'Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem' books are about is, J. Jonah Jameson is witness to something Spider-Man does in the pages of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' that is so shocking, it completely turns him around about what he thinks and what he does with his life.”
Jonah's revelation about Spider-Man and his life causes him to do what any good newspaperman would: get to the bottom of the story and present it to their readers. “What Jonah does here is investigate Spider-Man as a character and figure out what it is that he saw and witnessed,” Bendis explained. “You'll be hearing stories from certain characters in the Ultimate Universe that tell the story of Spider-Man, the hero that Jonah was sadly unable to see in his quest for how much money he could get off of him. And this is the last story of the 'Daily Bugle.' This is its final issue.”
All three definitions of Requiem in the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary involve honoring the dead, which is bound to leave some readers wondering if the title character will be in any shape to play an active role in “Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem.” “We have a handful of issues of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' left, and a lot of stuff happens to a lot of characters, and I don't want to ruin it for anybody,” Bendis said. “Let me tell you though, there will be a Spider-Man. You won't know who and you won't know why. You'll have to read 'Ultimate Spider-Man' volume two to find out.”
The tone of both issues of “Ultimate: Spider-Man: Requiem” will be a mixture of somber and hopeful. “Obviously, something horrible happened to New York City in 'Ultimatum,' and if you take it seriously, it's a story about horrible things. But at the same time, out of a story like that comes understanding and passion,” Bendis said. “We as a people have been through things like this, but we've seen a lot of good things come out of them, too. It's not how you want that to happen, but it does. Even Jonah's epiphany on the wrongness of his life is a good thing.”
The story told in “Requiem” will involve both present day and flashback sequences. In the present day scenes, which will be drawn by artist Stuart Immonen, Jonah is seeking out people to hear their stories about Spider-Man. “And the stories Jonah is hearing were drawn by Mark Bagley,” Bendis explained. “They're complete full stories drawn by Mark before he left for DC. They're untold tales of 'Ultimate Spider-Man. They're stories no one has seen and there are guest stars galore.”
The first volume of “Ultimate Spider-Man” may be coming to an end, but to Bendis it doesn't feel like he's come to the finish of anything, actually -- especially with the next volume of “Ultimate Spider-Man” set to launch in July. “It doesn't feel like the end of a road, because I'm not stopping,” the writer said. “It's more of a 'Whew! I didn't screw that up! Next please!' I'm not done.”
“Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem” is a project that's been in development for awhile and Bendis can't wait for May when readers will be able to get their hands on the first of the two books. “This was work that me and Mark did last year that didn't get to see the light of day yet. And I'm so happy that it does get to see the light of day,” the writer remarked. “It's so nice, and I really think the best way to celebrate this volume of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' is having both of the series's artists on a book together. It feels great.”