It's a title criticised for having lost its way. Its first two series with Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch seemed to set the agenda for superhero comics, but a third series by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madueira was critically panned, and when Mark Millar returned to the book with a number of high profile artists – and vampires – the book had lost its sure footing.
Well, as part of Marvel's The Ultimate Comics Universe Reborn relaunching of the Ultimate line in August, Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates will launch as an ongoing series written by Human Torch killer and comples plot knitter Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Wolverine artist and human brickhouse Esad Ribic. In a press conference recorded online we learnt the following.
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
Ultimates will set up a lot of things that will be used in the other Ultimate books we'll be announcing throughout the week.
"We're building a cohesive universe where all of the Ultimate books will be playing off one another very closely." -Jonathan Hickman
Jonathan is excited to "rebuild and rebrand" the Ultimate Universe with the other writers and artists we'll be speaking to this week
Esad talking about how he did a couple issues of Ultimate X-Men nearly a decade ago
"The Ultimate books need to have a very big scale. These are ultra high budget Hollywood blockbusters." -Esad Ribic
Esad has been doing layouts already for Ultimates and working at adding scale.
Jonathan 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 talking 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.
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
Esad is playing with technology a bit, making things look different than before, attempting to push towards the future a little.
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.
They also confirmed this was to star the Bruce Banner Hulk…