This week, Marvel has been announcing the new line-up for its Ultimate titles to be launching in the Fall, following the events of the Death of Spider-Man story arc, currently playing out in Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates, and the subsequent miniseries Ultimate Fallout. The final announcement came today, as Brian Michael Bendis revealed he would be continuing the saga of Ultimate Spider-Man with a new #1 and Sara Pichelli as the regular artist. More info after the break.
This has been an exciting week for Ultimate Marvel fans as each afternoon, a liveblog session at marvel.com revealed new titles and new creative teams. A summary of all new title information is below, but the final announcement was that Ultimate Spider-Man would relaunch with a new #1 issue this Fall. Brian Michael Bendis will be writing a new series featuring a new Spider-Man in a new costume with new powers. New powers? Yes, new powers. Bendis said he has been doing research on spiders.
Why a new Number One issue? After all, the entire Ultimate line was relaunched only two years ago following the events of Ultimatum. However, almost every title has experienced delays since then, with Ultimate New Ultimates being the most significant at eight months between issues. It’s possible Marvel is trying to regain some readership with popular creators like Jonathan Hickman, Paco Median, and Rafa Sandoval becoming regular contributors. However, Bendis points out that the story merits it in this case. “This needs to be a new #1 issue even by the most cynical fanboy qualifications.”
What can readers expect from the story? A promo image of Sara Pichelli’s new costume design was revealed in recent weeks with the news that someone besides Peter Parker would be filling the spider-suit after the current storylines wrap up at the end of the summer. “There are some elements of Spider-Man even more important than Peter Parker, and those will continue into the new series” said Bendis. “I hope people will tune in, because we’re doing something that has never been done before.” He went on to point out that he “is actually more nervous about this launch than the first Ultimate launch with the risks they are taking.” Old characters will return, new characters will be introduced to meet them, though Bendis refused to touch any Gwen Stacy questions for the time being. Jessica Drew will be on the new Ultimates team. Iceman and Johnny Storm will be moved over to the new Ultimate X-Men title, but threats introduced there will come to torment Spider-Man as well. Mysterio’s story will continue, and Bendis will be doing an Ultimate version of a classic villain he can’t believe he hasn’t done yet. “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,” said Bendis.
The art chores will be handled by Sara Pichelli, and Brian sang her praises at the liveblog. “I’m just trying to tell a story worth her time.” Pichelli’s recent work can be seen in recent issues of Ultimate Spider-Man as well as an acclaimed arc on Runaways in 2009, and many other places.
The Ultimate universe as a whole will be more closely knit, with events in one book having an impact on the others, yet each series is intended to stand fully on its own, so readers can choose what they want to read without pressure to buy multiple titles. Bendis has been working together with Jonathan Hickman (Ultimates) and Nick Spencer (Ultimate X-Men) to plan this integration. Early in the history of the Ultimate line, The Ultimates was on a different production schedule to Ultimate Spider-Man, so integration was more difficult. But Bendis is excited to work on a “tight, cohesive universe” with the other Ultimate writers. “Captain America will have a big emotional connection to the story,” he said.
Where should interested fans jump in to follow the story? Obviously, the idea of a new #1 is to make that a good starting point, but if previous fans who have left the title want to get a feel for where things are being left in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe they knew, it is recommended to read the Death of Ultimate Spider-Man arc and Ultimate Fallout. Those questions will be addressed. Ultimate Fallout will follow directly on the themes and events of Ultimate Spider-Man #160. Readers can expect to get “a taste of every character in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe and their reaction to events.” Bendis said, “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.”
The following is a summary of the other titles and creative teams announced for this fall.
-Ultimate Comics Ultimates will be a new series spinning out of Death of spider-Man and Ultimate Fallout by Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic, starring Nick fury, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Spider-Woman and more, but NOT Captain America.
-Ultimate Comics X-Men, written by Nick Spencer with art by Paco Medina. The main cast to start will be Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Johnny Strom & Jimmy Hudson. Ultimate Comics X was the reaction to Ultimatum. This is the next step.
-Ultimate Comics Hawkeye will be a four-issue mini by Jonathan Hickman and Rafa Sandoval. It will run concurrently with the first four issues of Ultimate Comics Ultimates, and the stories will be interwoven to an extent, but you should be able to read each series separately if you want.
And don’t forget Ultimate Comics Spider-Man with Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. “They will have to pry this book from my cold dead hands. I joke, but seriously.”