To continue Sam Humphries week here at iFanboy, we caught up with the prolific writer about his now solo status on The Ultimates. The Ultimates #13 kicks off The Ultimates involvement in the event Divided We Fall and marks the return of Ultimate Captain America to the fray. Humphries is following Jonathan Hickman and joining Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Wood in the architecting of the Ultimate universe and what he lacks in experience, he’s making up for sheer unbridled enthusiasm, as you’ll see below.
After the interview, we’ve got a preview of some of the pages from The Ultimates #13, as well as an exclusive sneak peek at The Ultimates #14.
iFanboy: You started out the Ultimates co-writing with Jonathan Hickman, and this is your first issue as a solo writer on the book. How do you feel?
Sam Humphries: I feel ready. Part of the experience is akin to the baby bird getting pushed out of the nest, and learning to fly on the way down, and you have to embrace that. But Hickman and the whole editorial team at Marvel have been very supportive and generous with their feedback and wisdom. I’ve learned a lot. So while they’re pushing me out the nest, they gave me Tony Stark’s armor first. I’ve still got to learn how to fire the jet boots on the way down. But I’m armed to the teeth, and ready to kick some ass.
iF: Issue #13 of The Ultimates kicks off the Ultimates portion of the event Divided We Fall, what is the situation in the ultimate universe that has brought us to this point?
SH: To quote Abraham Lincoln, America is fucked. Washington DC is destroyed. The Southwest is getting ravaged by a bunch of kill-happy robots. The current president is a n00b. The global stage is destabilized by the City in Europe and the People in Asia. Americans are not at all confident in their country right now. Pressure from the outside, chaos on the inside, and no clear leadership. States start to look out for themselves. For some, that means seceding from the union. For others, it means seceding from the union AND pointing a nuke at their neighbors. But if you wear the flag of the USA, you’re not going to let either happen while you still have a shield in your hand.
iF: Divided We Fall is one of the few crossovers in the Ultimate books history that has crossed over to every title in the line. What has the coordination been like with the other books and how crucial is it to follow all 3 books (Ultimates, Spider-Man, X-Men)
SH: Marvel sent myself, Bendis, and Wood these old “virtual reality” helmets, with webcams and bluetooth bolted on, allowing 24/7 connectivity and communication between the three of us. These helmets ensure that not a single idea or embarrassing private moment is not automatically live streamed to the group. 80% of the time, the display looks like this –
BRIAN WOOD current status: writing a hundred books
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS current status: writing a hundred books and teaching college
SAM HUMPHRIES current status: listening to Watch the Throne
The resulting mind meld was so intense that I accidentally started writing an issue of DMZ starring Takio. It took me a whole week before I realized what was going on.
It is not crucial for readers to follow all three books to be “in the know” during Divided We Fall. We’ve got a trinity of three characters in the Ultimate Universe — Miles Morales, Kitty Pryde, and Captain America. Each one observes the world around them from a dramatically different perspective, and those perspectives are reflected in the books. Ultimate Spider-Man is the world through the eyes of a boy, Ultimate X-Men is a street level outlook, and the Ultimates is the big, wide screen view of the world (almost as if you were looking down while, say, flying around with your giant hammer).
Similarly, Divided We Fall will be three books interacting with the same core crisis in three different ways. All three books are going to be rocked by what is happening in America, but in their own unique fashion. And although you don’t need to read all three books to get a complete story, you will see characters crossing over in ways you don’t expect.
iF: Ultimates #13 marks the return of Captain America to the ultimate books and the rejoining of Cap, Thor and Iron Man. What was writing that moment like for you? How daunting is it to write what is essentially Marvel movie “trinity” of characters?
Writing Cap, Tony, and Thor is actually less daunting than you might think. If I was writing the movie, I’d be hella full of daunt. Or if I was writing the cartoon show, or the main Avengers Marvel Universe title…I mean, these characters are literally worth billions of dollars to Marvel, and I don’t want to be “that guy” and be responsible for landing the company back in bankruptcy.
But this is the goddamn Ultimates. My mandate is to take these characters and do risky, edgy, unexpected things with them. If I don’t shake things up a bit — a LOT — then I’m not doing my job. Having a mandate like that is incredibly freeing. This is a comic where anything goes, and I’m about to rip some shit up. Plus, what I write doesn’t cost a hundred million dollars to film. So, I’m good.
Check out Divided We Fall in The Ultimates #13, on-sale in comic shops TODAY. Get a glimpse of it below:
And here’s a sneak peek at The Ultimates #14: