Marvel Comics kicked off day three of a week-long series of press calls discussing the future of their Ultimate Comics line with a newly familiar face to fans of the Ultimate U: Jonathan Hickman.
After the week started with the announcement of a new "Ultimate Comics: Ultimate" series set for August by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic and then continued yesterday with word that Nick Spencer will relaunch "Ultimate Comics: X-Men," the publisher announced today that Hickman will also launch a new "Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye" four-issue mini series this summer.
Hickman called the book a companion piece to the Ultimate U relaunch fitting in to "Ultimate Comics: Ultimates" #1 through 4. "This is clearly Hawkeye centric. He's in the middle of a mission while Thor and Iron Man are off on another mission, and it basically all culminates in what will be the future of the Ultimate Universe." The writer explained that the books don't have to be read together.
"If you give any character a chance at the spotlight and write them well, they all have a chance to be a hit," the writer said of the character's early breakout status under the pen of Mark Millar and then Jeph Loeb. He explained that his core interest in this version of Clint Barton is his heavy miliary background.
"We'll cover all of that – how he got recruited and why he's so tight with Nick Fury," Hickman said. "As we're using the story to move the narrative forward, we'll bring in some other characters to cement how important he's supposed to be moving forward.
Series artist Rafa Sandoval is "Really amazing. He really gets the character." The writer added that the story starts in South America at an Ultimates base where something goes wrong. "It's really pretty stunning. I've kept up with his art, but not as much as I should have...I'd be shocked if he's turned in work that's stronger than this. It's really fantastic."
As for the influence of the incoming movie Hawkeye on this character, Hickman joked "It was me who stole Sam Jackson's script!" He then explained that he didn't feel that the movie would have too much impact on his work, but like Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance changed the writing of Iron Man for comic writers forever, if Jeremy Renner nails Hawkeye on film, it may impact the future of the character on the page.
To Marvel's new refrain that the Ultimate U is a place where things happen that could never happen in the regular "616" Marvel Universe of books, Hickman said, "Everything I'm doing in 'The Ultimate' and this mini series, I wouldn't be able to do in the regular Marvel Universe – from the inciting incident through the conclusion of the book," he said. "I'm writing plenty of Marvel Universe stuff, and these aren't things you'd be able to do because you'd have to cancel whole franchises [as a result.]" The writer noted that the book will also have connections to Spencers "Ultimate Comics: X-Men."
Asked how the SHIELD organization he's writing here compares to the one he deals with in "SHIELD" and "Secret Warriors" in the main Marvel U, the writer said "Ultimate SHIELD is more proactive." While in the 616 Universe, the organization would show up as set dressing or a deus ex machina, the entire Ultimate Universe revolves around SHIELD. "It keeps going until it fails, which is the direction we've been teasing...SHIELD is so important and so overextended that something's got to give."
And while the character of Clint Barton will continue to be embroiled in the spy organization's intrigue as he fights his way through the solo series, the death of Hawkeye's family which informed so much of his past appearances "probably won't be as prevalent" in this book as Hawkeye becomes more of a new version of himself through the course of the action.
Guest starring in the series will be a load of new Ultimate characters but also Bruce Banner as the Hulk, Jean Grey and Karen Grant.
In the end, while all of this plays into a bigger picture "It's all about the arc of the main character...that's a completely confined story," said Hickman as to whether his well-known master plotting would play heavily in the book. "I think sometimes people forget that I've done more mini series than I've done long format series. This will have a very satisfying conclusion, but as with all the things we're doing in the Ultimate Universe now: these things aren't happening in isolation, and things resonate."
Finally, the writer revealed a bit about the new costume for the hero, saying "He gets into costume at the end of the first issue, and it's none of the ones you've seen so far. It's probably more like the Hitch one than the other incarnations."
More news from the Ultimate U hits tomorrow at 12:00 PST.