SDCC '08 - Marvel's Ultimate Universe Panel

With a provocative title like “Marvel: The Ultimate Universe Must Die,” Saturday evening’s Marvel Comics Ultimate Universe panel at Comic-Con International definitely attracted some interest, befitting its large space in ballroom 6CDEF.

Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada opened the panel, saying there were going to be discussing "the end of the Ultimate Universe." The panel started a little off-topic, with a trailer shown on the screen promoting Marvel's upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand." Getting back on topic, Quesada introduced the panel of "Ultimatum" writer Jeph Loeb, his colleagues on "Heroes" Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite, and Marvel publisher Dan Buckley. Marvel marketing's Jim McCann was also on the panel. McCann discussed the current Ultimate Origins. "Before you can end something you have to know how it began," said McCann.

A slide was shown of Ultimate Spider-Man, with Spider-Man in the black costume being confronted by the Ultimates.

Loeb talked about the "Ultimate Hulk Annual:, which picks up from "Ultimate Power", and features Power Princess.

Loeb also discussed the "Ultimate Captain America Annual", saying it'll have the origin of Ultimate Black Panther.

A David Finch piece of "Ultimatum" was shown. Loeb said it, "starts with the FF, goes over to the Ultimates, then a bunch of stuff I can't tell you, Spidey and the Hulk, and then all the way to Ultimate X-Men. It is the end of the beginning."

"Ultimatum" pages were shown, featuring characters like Dr. Doom.

An announcement was up next - that Mark Millar is coming back to the Ultimate Universe.

The exact capacity was not immediately specified.

"We sort of felt that we were going to talk about what the Ultimate Universe could be, it was important to involve one of the original architects," said Loeb.

Loeb then explained that Joe Pokaski was going to be doing the "last few issues" of "Ultimate Fantastic Four" and that Aron Coleite would be working on "Ultimate X-Men". "Part of what we're doing with "Ultimatum" is making (the Ultimate Universe) a more unexpected place," said Loeb, differentiating it from the Marvel Universe proper. Buckley then asked Quesada if they should make a "special announcement" before getting to questions.

Frank Cho was then brought up to the dais, with Loeb explaining that the two of them will be working on "some version" of "The Ultimates", post-"Ultimatum".

Loeb joked they were going to call it "Mighty Ultimates" or "New Ultimates."

The first fan "question" was a complaint about a complaint (and not even on topic) - all the griping about "One More Day." Quesada downplayed the complaints, saying that it was only a few people during this convention, and that there will always be scattered people finding fault. "It livens up the panels at the end of the day," the editor-in-chief said.

Motivation behind doing "Ultimatum"? "I always find it very curious when people ask a question before they've read a story," said Loeb. "The idea is to do the best story we can. David Finch's work has been unbelievable."

Another off-topic question was asked - about Ghost Rider, and the fan wanting to turn him into an "ass-kicking, 'Grindhouse,' metaphysical terror," or something to that effect. Loeb brought it back on topic, saying they are talking about "Ultimate Ghost Rider," and to wait and see.

A fan asked about the apparent discrepancies between "Ultimate Marvel Team-Up" and other appearances of the characters. Quesada said Bendis will explain a lot of it in "Ultimate Origins".

It gets asked all the time and this panel was no exception (although this time it was staged) - when will "Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk" be finished? This prompted writer Damon Lindelof to run up to the stage, final script in hand.

Lindelof apologized to fans for the delay, and handed the script to Quesada.

"Hey, these pages are blank," joked Quesada.

Was Ultimate Dazzler's appearance based on Brody Dalle from punk band The Distillers? Yes.

A fan in a (DC) Captain Marvel costume asked if we'll see Ultimate Deadpool again. "There are some plans for that," said Loeb, suggesting Coleite might bring him back. Ed McGuinness still doing an "Ultimates" arc? Loeb suggested plans changed, and that the next "Ultimates" arc, as announced earlier in the panel, will be drawn by Frank Cho. Marko Djurdjevic will be doing covers. Any plans for Carol Danvers to become Ms. Marvel in the Ultimate Universe? Loeb said there are plans for Danvers in the Ultimate U, and "according to Bendis, you will not be disappointed." A fan complimented Loeb's 'Hulk', with Loeb telling the fan about Cho's upcoming run on the book in issues #7-9, sharing art duties with Arthur Adams. A fan asked to see the script of 'Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #6', with Quesada telling him no, but saying the title was "The script that took 6 bleeping years to write." Have the movies influenced the Ultimate universe? Quesada said that he thinks the movies have affected the Marvel Universe proper more, citing the original X-Men's impact on the comics. He said they do try to have mini-series that line-up slightly with the movies (like this year's 'Ultimate Human', featuring Hulk and Iron Man). Quesada then hinted that a character would die in "Ultimatum", with Loeb acting apprehensively about it. "I just think fans are going to miss Bendis writing that book," Quesada said, likely in a bit of misdirection. A question was asked about what he perceived was a low level of violence in the Marvel animated DVDs, with a heckler in the audience yelling "They don't handle that, idiot!" Loeb asked the crowd to settle down, and then took the opportunity to talk about the upcoming "Black Panther" animated series on BET .

Any chance of Bryan Singer doing comic work (he was long rumored to do an arc on "Ultimate X-Men")? "Did you see 'Superman Returns'?" quipped Loeb. "This panel is subtitled 'Our Careers Must Die,'" joked McCann. Buckley brought things to a more serious level, saying that if at San Diego next year Singer showed up with a script, they'd be happy to publish it, but it's not in the works.

What d0 you get the "biggest crap" about within the Ultimate Universe? "The beginning of the Ultimate Universe," said Quesada. "From the very beginning, pick a month, there's always something controversial we're doing that people don't want to see. In the beginning, no one knew who or what a Brian Bendis was."

"We know 'who' right now, just not the 'what,'" joked Loeb.

Does the Ultimate Universe have any connection the "main" Marvel Universe? Loeb said "we're on our own," suggesting that no interaction was planned in the near future.

How long is Coleite's run lasting? "Up to 100," the "Ultimate X-Men" writer said. Has anything been pitched that was deemed "too crazy"? Quesada said they don't want interaction between the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, but other than that, "not yet."

McCann said that the upcoming "Ultimate Spider-Man Annual" (dealing with Peter Parker and Mary Jane talking about whether or not they should take their relationship, uh...further) was pretty edgy.

Any plans to end "Ultimate Spider-Man"? "No," said Buckley. Then other members of the panel added "yes" and "maybe." "Expect the unexpected," said Loeb.

A fan asked about Ultimate Banshee - Banshee is the name of a drug in the Ultimate Universe, similar to "Mutant Growth Hormone - Coleite said there will be more answers in "Ultimate X-Men #97".

Are we going to see an 80-year old Ultimate Winter Soldier in "Ultimatum"? "Maybe," said Loeb.

Is there going to be an Ultimate She-Hulk? "Maybe," said Loeb. "There's something you're going to see very soon that's going to make you very happy."

Another off-topic question - more Marvel Zombies? Buckley said "Marvel Zombies 3" starts in October. Quesada said "Don't forget about "Marvel Apes". If it does well enough, we'll do "Marvel Apes vs. Marvel Zombies"," said McCann.

Any chance of Grant Morrison working on the Ultimate titles? "No," Quesada said, because, of course, Morrison is under exclusive DC contract.

Ultimate Jessica Jones? Loeb said they all like the character of Jessica Jones. McCann joked that Bendis was reading the recaps online (like this one), and that it should be reported that Ultimate Jessica Jones will be the Ultimate Beyonder, complete with jheri curl.

A female fan asked a hug from Loeb, with someone on the panel joking "That's the first time I've seen that happen without you saying 'I'm the co-excutive producer of "Heroes."'" "Actually, I was going to say that never happened to me when I was at DC," cracked Loeb.

The last question concerned Ultimate Thor, with Loeb saying that "Ultimates Vol. 3 #5" will answer lots of questions about the character. 
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