Marvel associate editor Nick Lowe hooked up his iPod to churn out the sounds of the Clash while bringing along writer Jeph Loeb, artist Mark Brooks, associate editor Nicole Boose and collections guru Jen Gruenwald for a very brief look at what's to come for the company's successful line of stripped down content.
There was precious little new information given that couldn't be found in "Previews," but what was available was information worth getting. First of all, with Mike Carey and Pascual Ferry taking over the comic shortly, we'll see a return of the zombie Reed and Sue, as well as a considerably more 616-ish look at everyone's favorite Latverian doctor ("I really miss the cloven hooves," Lowe lamented). Some art was shown, including interior pages and sketches of Ultimate Thanos, Ultimate Ronan and a female character labeled simply "Dreamcatcher." The FF will be moving into more offworld conflicts and science fiction territory than superhero activity.
As for Ultimate X-Men, the long-awaited Bryan Singer arc is in production but has no set date for when fans will see it. Meanwhile, Robert Kirkman will have both Tom Raney and Ben Oliver bringing his scripts to life, with each alternating every three months in order to keep the title on a monthly schedule.
They also noted that we should see a new volume of "Ultimate Iron Man" late in 2006, that Jeph Loeb will be bringing back the Ultimate Defenders very early in his Volume 3 run, as well as confirming that we can expect Ultimate War Machine, an appearance of Ultimate Punisher in the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual, Charlie Huston working with Mike Deodato Jr. on an Ultimates Annual to bridge the gap between Millar and Loeb, Ultimate Morbius appearing relatively soon in "Ultimate Spider-Man," that we won't see an Ultimate Sentry and of course the big news about the "Ultimate Power" crossover with J. Michael Stracyznski's Supreme Power-i-verse.
"The way that 'Ultimate Power' came about is that we were talking a lot about the Squadron," Loeb said, "and how would be the best way to have them interact. Brian flirted with the idea they should meet the avengers, and Joe Quesada said they should get into the Ultimate Universe, see how these non 616 universes would meet. When we had one of those retreats, Brian spit out, 'we should call it 'Ultimate Power,'' and I said, 'I had that idea, I just didn't say it.' Three writers all at the same time said, 'I'll do it,' People write four pages, another writes another four pages, we kind of string it around. The thing that came together is that we started thinking about the story as a trilogy. Bendis does the first three, and then JMS does the middle section, the second act and where most of the story is going to take off and build, and I get to clean up the mess.
"I came into comics around the time of Age of Apocalypse," he continued, "and it always bothered me that we had done this incredible job of creating this new universe , and I wanted it to be like a Rubik's cube where everything can go back to normal except one red square on one side. I wanted it to be a major shift in the team, not Sugarman or Dark Beast. When this is over, there will be changes that stick. There will be different elements that happen in each of our books because of this happening."
In bantering with the crowd, when asked about the possibility of Ultimate Cloak and Dagger, Brooks said forcefully, "If there is, I'm drawing it."
Loeb had a lot to say about the differences in philosophy and approach between Millar ("a lying pinko commie") and his own take on the Ultimates. "At the end of the day you're going to see a Bond movie. Some people like Sean Connery, some prefer Roger Moore, some like Pierce Brosnan. Mark tends to tell a story that's more politically based and tells a story at a slower pace than I do. He's got the gift of Bryan Hitch, who can draw a building in a big spread that makes you think 'that's the most amazing building ever.' I'm with Joe Maduiera, and if somebody's punching Thor, he's flying across the page. There will be things that happen in 'Ultimates' #12 which will determine the lineup. Where Mark ends is so far from where Mark began. When the first issue [of Loeb's run] opens, you will feel like you missed twelve issues of something. From me that comes from the world of television. Who started watching their favorite show from the very beginning? You come in on the sixth episode, or like with 'Lost," a lot of people are seeing the DVD and then coming to the show. You go back, you fill in the gaps along the way. The idea is you'll read 3.1, and ask 'what happened before this?'"
Loeb also likes working in finite arcs. "I like the idea of telling stories in a contained area," he said. "I think about it like Hawaii. You don't really go a lot, but when you go, you have a good time."
They also showed art from Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine (with the mystery woman on the cover revealed in issue #3), promised "Ultimate Extinction" #5 in May and the final two issues of "Ultimates Volume 2" soon ("it can never be late enough for us," Loeb quipped. "Just think that the later it is, the easier it will be for us to be on time") with the "original" Ultimate Iron Man armor making a comeback.
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