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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life After Spider-Man: Marvel Announces 'Ultimate Comics Universe Reborn'

Ultimate Fallout #1

After Ultimatum, the Ultimate Universe, as a whole, was beginning to feel more like a pastime.  This was a place for good writers to come tell some fun stories, but there was no sense of the cohesiveness that Mavel fans have come to expect from the 616 Universe.

For my money, Ultimatum seemed to do more harm than good. I felt as though folks at Marvel, led by series writer Jeph Loeb wanted to distinguish the Ultimate Universe in as shocking a way possible. And it didn’t work.

Ultimate Fallout #2

At the end of the day, we like our superheroes to be super and we want them to die with dignity. Ultimatum was a loud, bombastic, indignant blood bath whose only apparent purpose was to remind readers that “You can’t do that in the Marvel Universe!” Well, they got that right. But the way there was all wrong.

Then a few months ago Marvel started pitching something called “Death of Spider-Man.” This seemed to be the final nail in the Ultimate coffin. My first reaction was that Marvel was going to close the lid on a mostly successful line of comic books whose goal was to present new readers with a fresh take on their favorite characters without decades of continuity baggage.

Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada, has continued to promise that there are big things in store for the Ultimate line. I began to question how seriously they were planning to take these books after Peter Parker’s demise. It seems we got our answer.

Yesterday Marvel held a press conference to announce Ultimate Comics: Ultimates, a new series by writer Jonathan Hickman (FF and Secret Warriors) and artist Esad Ribic (Uncanny X-Force). This is series falls under the banner “Ultimate Comics Universe Reborn.”

Today came the announcement that Nick Spencer (Morning Glories and Iron Man 2.0) and Paco Medina (X-Men) would take a shot at Ultimate Comics: X-Men. If you’ve listened to our podcast you’ll know that this news could not fill me with more excitement as I am an enormous fan of Spencer’s brilliant work.

Now Ultimate X-Men has been a tricky book for past Ultimate Universe writers (Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Brian K. Vaughn, etc.). The problem was, even though this was supposed to be a fresh take, there was a huge demand to bring everyone’s favorite mutants into the fold—by issue #50 the X-Universe had become surprisingly dense. While one of Spencer’s strengths is to tell quality sprawling tales, I hope he concentrates on a minimum of mutants. Many of the good ones were killed off in Ultimatum anyway.

After the “Death of Spider-Man” comes to a close, Marvel will feature a weekly series called Ultimate Fallout. Ultimate Comics: Ultimates and Ultimate Comics: X-Men ship this August.

Additional Ultimate Comics titles will be announced over the course of the week.

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