Over the past several months, Marvel Comics' Ultimate Universe has become a chaotic and dangerous place. In the recently completed "Ultimate Comics: Avengers vs. New Ultimates" miniseries, the U.S. government's public and clandestine superhero teams were tricked into going to war with each other. The crossfire from that war led to the very public death of Spider-Man, who died unmasked as Peter Parker. And in the aftermath of everything, the public found out that the Ultimate Universe's mutant population was created by the government.
Things won't be calming down, either. In "Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #1, writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic dropped a global crisis into the lap of the newly reconstituted titular team and their leader, General Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. That crisis grows exponentially in "Ultimate Comics Hawkeye" #1, in stores now, as Hickman and artist Rafa Sandoval send the Ultimates' archer on a top-secret mission. On September 7th a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, makes his debut in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sarah Pichelli. On September 14th writer Nick Spencer and artist Paco Medina show how the Ultimate Universe's mutants react to this new climate of hate and fear with the launch of "Ultimate Comics X-Men" #1. We spoke editor Mark Paniccia about all four of these titles.
CBR News: So Mark, in "Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #1, readers were pushed into the deep end of a gigantic, international superpowered action thriller. How big is Jonathan Hickman's initial "Ultimates" story going to be? Is this is a long, multi-part arc, or the first of several small and medium-sized tales that feed into something larger?
Mark Paniccia: Jonathan has some really big concepts that will carry through the title for at least the first year and have a very apparent impact across the line. You're going to see S.H.I.E.L.D. put through the ringer and tested like never before, be introduced to a new race of humans who don't like Norse gods much, get to know the newly activated European Super Soldiers, meet a completely new superpowered threat from overseas and see the world begin to slip through Nick Fury's hands. It will all be quite devastating.
The first issue of Hickman's "Ultimate Comics Hawkeye" miniseries is in stores this week. How does this mini connect to the larger Ultimate Universe?
One of the global hot spots on Fury's action list from "Ultimates" #1 calls for his best black-ops guy, Clint Barton, to head to the Southeast Asian Republic. There's an unpredictable superhuman threat brewing. Hawkeye won't be able to handle it alone. He's going to need help from Hulk and a handful of Nick Fury's mutant allies. And Nick is in contact with Hawkeye during the events of the first arc of "Ultimates." These two series reflect each other's continuity, and there is great crosspollination among the rest of the line in tone and plots.
On September 7th we get the start of Miles Morales' origin tale with "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1, which should also be of interest to Nick Fury since he cared a great deal for Peter Parker. Will Fury be involved at all in the life of the new Spider-Man? What can you tell us about Nick's reaction to his debut?
That's something we'll be seeing when we reach that part of the story. Nick will have some strong thoughts.
"Ultimate Comics Hawkeye" and "Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" both look at things on a global stage. With "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man," we imagine things will unfold all over New York. How big of a role will the city play in the book?
It's as important as it has been in the previous run. And once we catch up from Miles' origin story, much of the world building that Jonathan and Nick are doing will be evident in Ultimate New York.
"Ultimate Comics X-Men" #1 hits stores September 14th, and the revelation that the U.S. government created mutantkind has made people fear and hate them even more. When the series begins, just how dire are things for mutants?
Pretty bad, and that's hard to imagine since the standing order is still to shoot any mutant who resists arrest. The first issue of "Ultimate Comics X-Men" opens with a fairly shocking scene, the kind that shows you how far humanity has fallen, how much fear and hatred is out there. There's also the revelation to the mutant community that they are man-made, not an evolutionary jump. This has a major effect on our cast.
It's been revealed that Karen Grant, aka Jean Grey, has some connections to Nick Fury and the Ultimates. Will Fury play a role in "Ultimate Comics X-Men?" Or will things be so bad initially, even the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. can't protect mutants?
Karen and her gang will have roles in the series, and you'll also see them involved in other books (check out "Ultimate Comics Hawkeye"). You'll see Fury's influence (or lack of) in Spencer's storyline. He's in the first issue of "Ultimate Comics X-Men" where he comes face to face with former Ultimate and now fugitive, Quicksilver. The son of Magneto is going to make an offer to the U.S. government that you'd never expect. Something that is going to complicate Nick's life even more.