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At the Marvel Ultimate Universe panel, part of San Diego’s Comic-Con International the creative and teams behind “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” and “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” gathered to answer fan questions and speak about the future of the Ultimate Universe.
The panel began with a teaser for ABC’s “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Disney XD’s “Avengers Assemble” and a promo for the Thanos-driven six-issue event “Infinity.” Moderators Senior Editor Rob Lowe and Senior Editor Steve Wacker then introduced the panelists to thunderous applause: Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso, “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” writer Brian Michael Bendis and “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” writer Joshua Hale Fialkov.
Beginning with “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man,” Bendis spoke about his next arc, explaining, “The evil corporation Roxxon has been...working to one-up Norman Osborn in making a super soldier.”
“We discover how many superheroes Roxxon has been on purpose, or accidentally, creating,” Bendis added, saying that Cloak and Dagger and Ultimate Spider Woman will be part of that and that for the first time there will be multiple super-powered people running around in the comic.
Touching briefly on “Ultimate Comics X-Men” by Brian Wood and artist Alvarado Martinez, the panel then turned to Fialkov, designated by Wacker as the “only panelist with hair.” The writer told the audience he wanted to do the “craziest thing possible” with his “Ultimates.”
“So my pitch for 'Ultimates Disassembled' is Hulk with two infinity gauntlets,” Fialkov said as the audience gasped. Touching on Reed Richards after his slicing off of Tony Stark’s head, Fialkov laughed, “He isn’t doing well.”
Next up was “Hunger” from Fialkov and artist Leonard Kirk, another story that Bendis and Fialkov deemed came out of coming up with the craziest character to show up in the Ultimates universe. That character was Galactus.
“There are the Ultimate Kree, the Ultimate Chitari are there...the Silver Surfer returns, and on the cover of issue #4 there’s a Captain Marvel,” Fialkov said.
Lowe then exclusively announced: “Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand,” from Bendis and Mark Bagley, a Galactus-centric story where the heroes of the Ultimate Universe will not only discover there’s a Marvel Universe, but realize they can’t send Galactus back there as he will just destroy that world.
“He’s coming to earth and eating it,” Bendis said with a laugh. “It breaks open the barrier of the Ultimate Universe to the Marvel Universe.”
Bendis also praised Bagley’s artwork before the panel opened the floor to questions from the audience. The first fan to the floor apologized for disliking "Age of Ultron" as the room cracked up. He then asked if the Superior Spider-Man would meet Ultimate Universe Spider-Man.
“The Ultimates book we just announced is the follow-up to Spider-Man,” Bendis said. “The emotions that are going to happen here, as the characters find out more about the regular Marvel Universe...is going to be a big thing especially for Spider-Man.”
A reader new to the Ultimate Universe asked if all the comics in the line will all be affected by “Cataclysm” or if they will remain separate.
“This is the biggest thing that’s happened to the Ultimate Universe...there will be tie-ins,” Bendis explained.
“It will be affecting the whole line,” said Wacker, Alonso adding that the tie-ins will continue on for a while after.
The next fan wanted to know if they had plans for “The One Above All” to which Bendis said there were no plans for the Beyonder but he should check out “Infinity.”
Bendis told another fan that “We have big plans for” Parker Spider-Man meeting Morales Spider-Man.
The room cracked up again as the next fan to the microphone admitted sheepishly he felt Age Of Ultron was “not great.” He then asked why there was no Ultimate branding for “Hunger.”
“We didn’t want to spoil,” Bendis said as they had to solicit the story before they announced “Cataclysm.”
“It’ll be one hundred percent reader friendly, it’s from the eyes of the Ultimate characters,” Bendis told a female fan who wanted to know if readers needed to be caught up with the regular Marvel Universe to follow “Cataclysm.”
To a fan of the Parker Ultimate Spider-Man, Bendis stated, “Peter Parker is dead...but there is a two hundredth issue of Spider-Man happening very soon.”
A reader who felt Marvel constantly killed his favorite Ultimates characters laughed as Bendis pretended to make a note and asked him, “So what’s you’re favorite?”
The fan then asked if after “Cataclysm” there will be an Ultimate Universe 2014 panel, to which the panelists told him to read “Cataclysm.”
“This move [to add Miles Morales] it was very controversial...my thanks to everyone,” Alonso told a Miles Morales fan at the microphone.
“If the regular Marvel Universe was birthed out of nuclear paranoia, that’s not something we worry about today...we have genetic paranoia,” Bendis said, naming that one of the driving themes and ideas behind the Ultimate line and “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.”
The next fan question came from a man who expressed his happiness that Bendis referenced the “Yeah Yeah Yeahs.”
“I get more crap from that than anything!” Bendis laughed before he said he was currently listening to drummers with his ten-year-old daughter who was learning the instrument.
“In general, though, he’s listening to culture club,” Wacker joked.
The next question came from a fan who wanted to know how they picked the writers they did for the Ultimate line. Bendis laughed as he recalled he was not an important writer at all when he was brought onto the Ultimate line and grew into the writer he became during that time.
Thus, when it came time to bring in more writers, “I said, whatever you guys felt about me and Mark, you should bring in those guys...who has something new to say,” Bendis said. Alonso agreed, adding that they were frankly looking at the independent creators and writers.
“We like to find people who have voice and swagger and go crazy,” Alonso added.
A female Johnny Storm fan wanted to know if he was bringing him back and if readers would see the aftereffects of his in-universe torture.
“Uh, yes?” Fialkov laughed. “Every call with my editor ends with, ‘So, Fantastic Four.’”
Bendis then spoke about the decision to have Miles’ Uncle Ben moment be Miles’ mother dying. “It’s kind of like Captain Stacy dying...at first I though killing his father would be it, but it became clear after we say he and his father in that room without her, that would be it,” Bendis said.
Another fan asked about the character Angela showing up again, to which the panelists told him to check out the Cup ‘O Joe panel.
A Miles fan wanted to know if there would be more original foes for Spider-Man.
“The instinct to do that is overwhelming...Ultimate Taskmaster’s coming up, Bombshell’s coming back,” Bendis said, adding that in “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” issue #200, “Miles has to meet Norman Osborn.”
Bendis also spoke about writing a non-white hero in Miles Morales, as well as putting him into a charter school. “I’ve meet Miles in my real life...and it’s very easy to watch them all day and fall in love with them and imagine they beat people up,” Bendis said, adding that while comics had touched on going to school they never touched upon charter schools which is a reality for many kids and teenagers today.
Speaking about the switch in age and jumping ahead in time, Bendis said not only could they jump ahead in time in a way the regular Marvel U couldn’t, “He got more interesting to me. It’s not so much he’s lost his innocence but his eyes have been opened.”
A young boy who loved the Marvel movies but was new to comics asked if the panelists were going to introduce new Marvel heroes, or reboot the Marvel Universe like DC Comics did with the New 52.
“We are not going to reboot the Marvel Universe, it is not broken, it does not need to be fixed,” Alonso said as the audience cheered.
Wacker then asked the boy what type of new character he’d like to see. After spending a few moments telling the panel he wanted to see something “totally new” the boy got down to specifics.
“Maybe one who has to do something with energy rays or time traveler,” the twelve-year-old said, adding, “Maybe something with animals.”
“A Time Traveling laser-beam hero called the Coyote,” Bendis said as the room cracked up.
Speaking about the times they had to restrain themselves while writing their stories Bendis said he kept his language clean even though teenagers constantly swear. Alonso added that they try to stay away from political current events or social issues as well.
“I think if you’re going to weigh into a social issue...whether you mean it or not it will be seen as the Marvel Comics stance,” Alonso said.
“I have three daughters...so in my work I try not to do any stereotypical [sexist] imagery,” Bendis added.
The last question came from a fan of comic book video games who wanted to know if there were plans to turn the Ultimate stories into video games.
“Utimate Spider-Man did have a video game,” Bendis said, adding that he wrote the Marvel Universe free-to-play MMO out now. “Our job is to focus on the comics...but I love games,” Bendis said.
The fan also asked how much creative control the writers had over the games.
“I tend to write big and they let me know of the fifty crazy things I said what they can animate,” Bendis said, concluding that it was very different from the way he normally works. The panel ended to applause as Alonso and the panelists thanked their fans for coming.