Kurt Busiek on Mark Millar "Crapping" All Over His Avengers Run

We always love it when Mark Millar rewrites history. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he recalls the origin of his Ultimates series with Brian Hitch.

Brian and I pretty much ran the Ultimate line ourselves. He did Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, I did X-Men and Ultimates. It's funny to look back on now, but I had been begging them to relaunch the Avengers. Marvel had no interest in bringing the Avengers into the Ultimate line; they said those characters are dead and no studio was interested in them. I was always a really big Avengers fan. I got some credibility from doing Ultimate X-Men;  that was the No. 1 book when it launched. So they said, would you want to do Ultimate Wolverine? I said no, no, I'd love to do Avengers. They won't even let me call it the "Avengers" because they thought Avengers was such a dead franchise that I had to call it "Ultimates" instead. It's crazy to think now that Avengers was such a diminished name in the industry, and Marvel had no faith in at all. But what was great was they let me do whatever I wanted because they expected nothing from it.

Well, Kurt Busiek, who was writing the Avengers comic at the time and who left the series as a result of the Ultimates existence, wanted to set the record straight.

Hang on Kurt, have you never read any of Mark Millar's marketing plans? That's exactly what you always do…

And here was a report from the time from a certain column back in the day…


On the Avengers Comic Board, Kurt Busiek revealed one of the main reasons why he left Avengers:

"I don't have any real complaints about the book itself, but I knew that if they did an "Ultimate Avengers," it'd trigger exactly the kind of "Which one is better?" "Which one sucks?" argument that it has, and that an Ultimate Avengers book would have that whole "We're not boring and stodgy like the old versions of the characters" aspect as part of its promotional thrust. And I didn't want to have anything to do with that.

"And sadly, calling it ULTIMATES instead of ULTIMATE AVENGERS didn't change that a bit.

"It's entirely possible for someone to come along and be cool on AVENGERS after ULTIMATES is launched. It happened on both X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN, after all. So I think Geoff Johns has a fine shot. But whoever was on the books when the Ultimate version happens would be recast as 'the old guard,' as the avatar of what has to be discarded to make the new stuff new and fresh. And that's not a bullseye I particularly want to stand on, thanks.

"If I'd had a ton of stuff I still wanted to do with AVENGERS, I might've thought more seriously about makin a fight out of it, but as I said at the time, I'd accomplished what I'd set out to accomplish on the book. And I don't much like the idea of being on a book that's being treated as a loser by its own publisher, implicitly or explicity, as part of selling something new.

"Don't take this as sour grapes — I have no problem, in theory, with the Ultimate program. I like Mark Millar. I like Joe Quesada. We get along just fine. [I don't know that I've ever met Bill Jemas, but I'm sure he's a swell guy too.] And I'd have no problem writing a MAX book, or some of the new, glossy, big-budget movie approach to the Marvel characters (I've been talking with Tom Brevoort about one or two ideas on that score, even). But being "the old guy" on a book that's getting the Ultimate treatment is like dressing up in a geek costume and hanging a "Kick Me" sign on your back. There's no way to do it well.

"Better to let someone who can be 'the new guy' come in, and then go do something that can be "new" yourself…"

But just in case anyone had any doubts…

Kurt Busiek on Mark Millar "Crapping" All Over His Avengers Run

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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