Marvel Comics announced this week an ambitious and comprehensive plan to reintroduce its Ultimate Comics line to new readers and lapsed fans. Once known for its high profile creators and truly epic and unpredictable storylines, the fever around the Ultimate line has cooled in recent years. Marvel's aim is to reignite the line with relaunches of its core franchises and an eye towards a cohesive Ultimate Universe.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates will relaunch with Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic; Hickman will write an Ultimate Comics Hawkeye miniseries with art by Rafa Sandoval; Ultimate Comics X-Men will relaunch with Nick Spencer and Paco Medina; and series originator Brian Michael Bendis and fan-favorite artist Sara Pichelli will remain with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, but the series will relaunch with a new hero in the Spidey suit. All the new series will be preceded by the weekly Ultimate Comics Fallout miniseries beginning in July.Launched in 2000 as a sort of batsh*t crazy version of the existing Marvel Universe, the original Ultimate line included such bestsellers and trendsetters as The Ultimates (a truly epic interpretation of Captain America and the Avengers that introduced Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury), Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man (which returned Peter Parker to his teenage incarnation).

In a series of liveblog events hosted at, the new Ultimate Comics creators expressed a desire to return to the dynamism of those earlier works, but in the framework of a properly shared continuity. The following are excerpts from the chats with the Ultimate Comics creators and fans, which were devised and facilitated by Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi and moderated by Associate Editor Ben J. Morse and Assistant Editor Marc Strom. Many more details and remarks from the creators can be found in the chat archive here.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates

  • The cast will feature Nick Fury, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Woman, Hulk and others to be named. There will however be NO Captain America.
  • First arc is called "The Republic is Burning"
  • Following Ultimate Fallout, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been stretched beyond its breaking point and that will be explored here.
  • "The Ultimate books need to have a very big scale. These are ultra high budget Hollywood blockbusters." -Esad Ribic
  • Hickman knew he was going to be working on Ultimates when he took the job doing Ultimate Comics Thor. It has always been one of his dream projects. He was a huge fan of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's original run. He was honored to be asked to work on it.
  • Editor Mark Paniccia talked about how Ultimate comics of the past were awesome, but they've always been on something of a staggered schedule. They will now be more cohesive than ever and designed to work together.
  • Ultimate Fallout, beginning this July, will be a bridge between Death of Spider-Man and this rebirth of the Ultimate Comics line. It will touch on all the prominent characters who will be featured upcoming and showing how Death of Spider-Man affected them. It will be written by all the guys working on the new books, including Jonathan Hickman.
  • Like with S.H.I.E.L.D., Jonathan looks at Ultimates as a book that can be "built with hydrogen," meaning he can work from the ground up and not be tied down by decades of continuity.
  • While Ultimates will in some way be the "core" book of the Ultimate Comics Universe and the books will be cohesive, there will still be an effort to make it so you can pick up any of the titles and enjoy it on its own, as has always been the Ultimate goal.
  • Jonathan is not coming on this book as he did Fantastic Four or Secret Warriors where he had a long plan with an end point because he wants it to be "an event book," but he knows what he's doing for the next year.
  • "I can't promise, but I believe this series will come out more than 12 times during its first year." -Jonathan Hickman
  • Jonathan says Ultimates will be a super hero book, but he believes one of the things that made it great early on was the way it looked at current society. The first arc is a direct commentary on the decline and fall of the United States of America, though you should not interpret that to be necessarily the way he feels.
  • "The tone of society right now is one that can create a dramatic narrative and one that demands heroes." -Jonathan Hickman
  • There will be both versions of classic Marvel characters making their Ultimate debuts as well as all-new Ultimate-only characters.

Ultimate Comics X-Men

  • The current climate of the Ultimate Universe for mutants is very "Days of Future Past," with dwindling numbers and the government essentially giving orders to shoot mutants on sight.
  • There are many former X-Men still out there, including Jean Grey, Iceman, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler, all of who will be featured.
  • The main cast: Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Johnny Storm & Jimmy Hudson.
  • Karen Grant, aka Jean Grey, as well as Liz Allan, Storm, Colossus and other characters from Ultimate X will be involved.
  • Rogue will also be part of the main cast.
  • The secret genesis of the government creating mutants told in Ultimate Origins will be revealed at the start of Ultimate Comics X-Men.
  • "Mutants thought up until this point they might be the next step in evolution, but it turns out they're just a lab experiment gone wrong." -Nick Spencer
  • Ultimate Comics X will conclude its run and lead into Ultimate Comics X-Men.
  • "This book is less about saving the world and more about a group of kids deciding to stick together and save each other." -Nick Spencer.
  • Spencer thinks the fact that Professor X and Magneto are gone and "the legends are dead, both sides of the argument are done" makes the landscape even more exciting.
  • "Our very first scene in Ultimate Comics X-Men will show how different the world really is. In our first arc you'll see why neither Professor X or Magneto's ideologies still work." -Nick Spencer
  • Characters will be trying to step up to fill the leadership void left by Xavier and Magneto, but whether or not they succeed will be a big part of the story.
  • There will be a "major adversary" popping up on the other side of the globe who represents a long-term threat and has a lot to do with the rejection of the idea that mutants are a lab experiment gone wrong.
  • There will definitely be crossover between the Ultimates and the X-Men. The new writers enjoy working with each other. A lot of what Jonathan Hickman does in Ultimate Comics Ultimates will be reflected in Ultimate Comics X-Men.
  • "This is in many ways Kitty and Rogue's book." -Nick Spencer

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye

  • You don't need to read Ultimates and Hawkeye together, but the conclusion of Hawkeye's mission will help set up the new direction for Ultimate Comics.
  • Hickman is interested by Hawkeye having a military background and having served in S.H.I.E.L.D. so long, both of which distinguish him from the classic version of Clint Barton.
  • This series will cover Hawkeye's past, including his training and how he got recruited by Nick Fury.
  • Rafa Sandoval is ahead of the other Ultimate Comics artists right now, so Jonathan has already seen pages and calls it "amazing."
  • "Hawkeye's mission will affect the X-Men as much as anybody." -Jonathan Hickman
  • "Hickman will be doing stuff in Ultimate Comics Hawkeye that you'd have to cancel an entire franchise to do in the classic Marvel Universe."
  • Hickman thinks the S.H.I.E.L.D. of Ultimate Comics is far more powerful and pro-active than in the classic Marvel Universe. Everything revolves around them. They don't just show up at the end of stories.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man

  • Bendis is actually more nervous about this launch than the first Ultimate launch with the risks they are taking.
  • "I hope people will tune in, because we're doing something that has never been done before." -Brian Michael Bendis
  • "People will see from the very first page that this is very different from what we've seen before. Not for shock value or cheap theatrics, but for new characters and a new landscape to explore Marvel." -Brian Michael Bendis
  • "No guts, no glory" is Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso's motto for Ultimate Comics.
  • Ultimate Fallout will spin directly out of Ultimate Spider-Man #160. You get "a taste of every character in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe and their reaction to events."
  • "There are some elements of Spider-Man even more important than Peter Parker, and those will continue into the new series." -Brian Bendis
  • There will be returning characters from this Spider-Man volume to the next as well as new characters.
  • Spider-Man will have new powers in this new series.
  • "This needs to be a new #1 issue even by the most cynical fanboy qualifications." -Brian Bendis
  • "Death of Spider-Man is about one moment connecting two books. The new books will be more like the early days of the original Marvel Universe where little things like Thor flying by in a Spider-Man book was really cool." -Brian Bendis
  • "I'm not going to answer Gwen Stacy questions right now. She will have a lot going on this year." -Brian Bendis
  • There will be returning villains, new villains, an Ultimate versions of classic villains Bendis can't believe he hasn't done yet. Mysterio will remain a major threat and new threats will come out of the X-Men book as well.
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man will be shipping more than 12 times a year.
  • "Captain America will have a big emotional connection to the story." -Brian Bendis
  • The new Spider-Man costume was originally designed by Sara Pichelli and refined by Joe Quesada.
  • "A lot of people make it clear that the Ultimate Universe was their way into comics or back into comics an that they have an emotional connection to these characters. I do too and don't take it for granted. I take the relationship readers have with Peter, Mary Jane, etc. seriously. Some scary stuff is coming up, but ultimately, have no fear." -Brian Bendis

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