Now that "Ultimatum," the storyline that decimated much of Marvel Comics' Ultimate Universe, is a thing of the past, it seems like things are going back to normal in the Ultimate U. Appearances can be deceiving, however. In fact, there's a hidden conspiracy afoot that is ready to implement a sinister agenda which could result in the deaths of a lot of people, proving disastrous to the Ultimate U's currently fragile status quo. Fortunately an alliance of heroes stands ready to oppose these malevolent forces, but in order to do so, they must uncover the identity of the conspiracy's head. This is the premise of "Ultimate Comics Enemy," a four issue miniseries by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Rafa Sandoval. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the project, which begins this week and is the first in a trilogy of miniseries.
For "Ultimate Comics Enemy," Bendis has assembled a cast of characters that should please fans of both his "Ultimate Spider-Man" work and the other titles he's written for the Ultimate line, such as "Ultimate X-Men," "Ultimate Fantastic Four," and "Ultimate Origin." "I think we've got a lot of cool characters involved," Bendis told CBR News." This storyline features Nick Fury's re-entry into the Ultimate Universe, not as a Black Ops operator, but alongside Spider-Man and all his new friends, like the Human Torch, Iceman, and Spider-Woman."
Bendis is enjoying the chance to write Nick Fury again. The character recently returned to the Ultimate Universe after spending some time in another dimension due to the events of the "Ultimate Power" miniseries. "It feels great to write him again, and people forget that I wrote him first. I didn't make him bald, though. You have to give that to Bryan Hitch," Bendis said. "I also wrote him in 'Ultimate Origins,' and it's interesting, because Fury had a nice relationship with Spider-Man. Now, Spider-Man is a little older and a little less trusting, and here Fury suddenly is. That's a dynamic that's a lot of fun to write."
"Ultimate Comics Enemy" also marks the return of some characters who have been laying low since the events of "Ultimatum," including Human Torch's other surviving teammates on the Fantastic Four, Sue Storm and Ben Grimm. "We haven't seen Sue since 'Ultimate Fantastic Four Requiem' and we get to see her right here in the first issue," Bendis remarked. "Both she and Spider-Woman are making big returns in 'Ultimate Enemy,' and Spider-Woman is a character that a lot of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' fans have been asking for."
Several supporting characters will also play roles in "Ultimate Comics Enemy," including the Ultimate Universe incarnation of Rick Jones who was introduced and given super powers in the final issue of "Ultimate Origins." An upcoming storyline in "Ultimate Spider-Man" will lay the groundwork for Jones' role in "Ultimate Enemy" and its sequels. "In issues 7-8 of 'Ultimate Spider-Man,' we see Rick Jones come to grips with who and what he is. Spider-Man and his friends try to teach him what it's like to be a hero and what that means," Bendis revealed. "How he turns out at the end of that will definitely be the line to 'Ultimate Enemy.'"
The identity of one of the most important characters in "Ultimate Comics Enemy," the titular character, is a mystery for both the protagonists and readers to discover. "I hate it when people market a book with, 'Wait and see,' but 'Ultimate Enemy' is a hard book to market because the concept is a mystery," Bendis stated. "Someone is running around the Ultimate Universe doing damaging things, and their identity is a mystery. This series is a conspiracy thriller with action set pieces."
In the past, heroes like Nick Fury and the Fantastic Four have operated as government agents or with their government's blessing, but the nature of what they're facing in "Ultimate Comics Enemy" changes things. "Things are still shaken up after 'Ultimatum. So they're on their own," Bendis explained. "Also, when there's a conspiracy, the government is always suspect."
Nick Fury and company's investigation into the conspiracy at the heart of "Ultimate Comics Enemy" will take them all over the Ultimate Universe. "It's a big book and it travels, so it gets bigger and bigger as it goes," Bendis said. "There even might be some inter-dimensional traveling. We might see the Negative Zone."
Bendis has been amazed by the art work that Rafa Sandoval his other collaborators are producing for "Ultimate Comics Enemy." "Rafa has really kicked ass on this series. We were going to look for different artists to do the other two books in the trilogy, but then I asked, 'Does anyone have a problem with this team doing all three books?'" Bendis remarked. "And the answer was 'No,' which is great because Rafa and his inker Roger Bonet are doing a fantastic job and so is Matthew Wilson who colored the 'Fortune and Glory' hardcover, 'Phonogram,' and 'Dark Reign: The List-Wolverine.' He's a great new colorist. There's lots of fantastic storytelling in this book."
Beyond followers of his current Ultimate Spidey work, Bendis also feels that fans of writer Warren Ellis' "Ultimate Galactus" trio of miniseries ("Ultimate Nightmare," "Ultimate Secret," and "Ultimate Extinction") should check out "Ultimate Comics Enemy." "Though 'Ultimate Enemy' is a completely different animal and genre, it is very much inspired by the 'Ultimate Galactus' trilogy," Bendis explained. "I think Ultimate Comics miniseries should be that elaborate and fantastic, and their payoffs should be huge. That's what we're dealing with here. When everything is revealed over the course of these three miniseries, you'll have a gigantic villain in the Ultimate Universe.
"What I liked about the Ultimate Universe when it started, and the way it worked for quite a few years, was that every storyline is an event. Every arc of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' and 'The Ultimates' was a big earth shattering event, and post 'Ultimatum' and post 'Siege' [the current Marvel Universe event story that Bendis is writing], I believe that's the way things should be," Bendis continued. "So, big, exciting things will happen right there in the books I'm writing. 'Ultimate Enemy' is so much bigger than 'Ultimate Spider-Man' that it's being told as a series of miniseries and needs its own books."