Ultimate Comics Universe Reborn with The Ultimates #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic

Earlier today, Marvel Comics hosted the first of four press conferences scheduled for this week to help spread the word about what they are dubbing, The Ultimate Comics Universe Reborn.  

Coming off the heels of the Death of Spider-Man event and the Fallout mini-series (which comes immediately after the Death of Spider-Man, artwork by Mark Bagley to the right), the Ultimate Comics universe will be relaunching with new titles and new creative teams.  The first title and creative team announced today was Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates, written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Esad Ribic.  Both Hickman and Ribic were present on the conference call along with editors Mark Paniccia and Sana Amanat.

When asked to provide the set up for the book, Hickman explained that in the Ultimate Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a massive organization with global reach, despite it's affiliation with America.  When we join the book, The Ultimates are at their breaking point and the cast which will include long time Ultimates Nick Fury, Iron Man and Thor as well as new members like Spider-Woman and the Hulk, will be dealing with that.  Hickman stressed that Captain America is not on this team of Ultimates, which may play into the first arc which is titled The Republic is Burning.  Picking up on the political overtones of that title, Hickman was asked how political the book will be versus being a super hero book?  "Well, it's a super hero book, so we will do that.  I think one of the things that make Ultimates a success early on was that it was a reflection of the times.  The name of the first arc as The Republic is Burning is direct commentary on the rise and fall of the USA.  Don't take from that title that I feel one way or another about it.  It's going to have that pervasive, seems like things are barely holding together feeling that permeates our society…we can use that to tell engaging and fantastic stories. Situations like that require super heroes."

Positioning of The Ultimates in this new launch of books is key for Hickman. "The Ultimates is setting up a lot of stuff that will be used in the other Ultimate books moving forward,"  Hickman explained, "one of the most interesting things we're doing is building a cohesive universe."  With the books so tied into each other, the creative teams that are working on these books (and will be announced through the week) are all excited to work on what is a massive rebranding but rebuilding of the Ultimate Universe.

When asked about what attracted Hickman to the Ultimate Universe, he spoke very complimentary of the first 2 volumes of The Ultimates, " I think The Ultimates Volume 1 is about as perfect as big event mainstream comics can be done.  Our goal is to match or eclipse that." 

Part of the way they'll approach matching or surpassing previous work on The Ultimates will be with the artistic talents of Esad Ribic.  Ribic explained his approach to the book with one word: Scale.  "The book needs to have a big scale, ultra high budget style stories.  Art-wise it's a major step for me, adding more scale to the layouts and the book."  Ribic further explains that he sees nothing wrong with the current character designs, rather focusing on enhancing the world around them and making the technology used more futuristic.

Editor Mark Paniccia added that while previous versions of The Ultimates, while highly regarded, had sporadic release schedules.  Now The Ultimates is a monthly book, with the other Ultimate Universe books playing off of it and each other.  Hickman elaborated that while they're haven't nailed down the exact shipping schedule, they plan to ship more than 12 issues over the upcoming year and he has the first 4 or 5 story arcs planned out, but in a different approach to his previous work for Marvel, "I'm not coming into this with a Fantastic Four or Secret Warriors style structure.  I don't have an end point.  The goal is to great a monthly Ultimates event book.  I know where I'm going to be for the next year…I could tell you what the first 4 or 5 arcs are and I'm excited about it."

Some fans may be wondering what how this relaunch is affected by Death of Spider-Man and Fallout? Hickman explained that Fallout is meant to be the bridge book from Death of Spider-Man and the current Ultimate Comics line and this new, relaunched line.  Even though there's some continuity in the Ultimate Universe to deal with, Hickman isn't worried about that explaining that the Ultimate Universe has less dense continuity to deal with, which excites him.  "The same thing that gets me going when I talk about S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe, the opportunity to build books with hydrogen.  It's not a book that's saddled with decades of continuity, and what continuity quadmire there is, it's pretty navigable. I get to be myself on the book and let loose."

When asked about the "ultimatizing" of Marvel characters we know from the standard Marvel Universe, Hickman confirmed that there would be some, along with some totally new characters that exist only in the Ultimate Universe.  Hickman felt very strongly about the line between the standard Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, "The Ultimate Universe shouldn't be a direct reflection of the Marvel Universe. We should tell stories that we're not telling there and characters shouldn't be the same in both" he explained.

To sum things up, Hickman explained that while readers don't need to read every book in the Ultimates Universe,  "The Ultimates is the Ultimate world book.  I don't think people will get it until they see what we're trying to accomplish."

Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates #1, written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Esad Ribic ships in August, 2011 from Marvel Comics.



  1. I’m excited for this. I love everything that he does and cant wait to see him on another ultimate book. 

  2. Oh the UCUR. Duh.

    It’s pretty sad that a title as moronic as Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates isn’t nearly the dumbest title these brainics have cooked up. Hopefully they are playing some kind of long con though.

    Back to my copy of Ultimate Comics : Ultimate Avengers versus New Ultimates I guess.

  3. Hickman + Ultimates = my wet dream! So glad to see him at the helm of this!

  4. Drop the Ultimate Comics, It makes the entire line sound janky and less important.  Enough with the Utimate Comics: New Ultimates vs Ultimates Ultimatium Ultimate Showdown. 

  5. @seNoj1  Ultimately they can’t. …ZINGER!

  6. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Ribic for my pleasure. 


  7. its not “Ultimate” unless they put Bacon on it. 

  8. @wallythegreenmonster  Ultimarmites! NEW ULIMATRONS

  9. they need to do a crossover with DC. ULTIMATE CRISIS of FEAR ITSELF DAY and NIGHT!

  10. Can Ribic do 12 issues a year? This doesn’t add up already. Delays have screwed up the Ultimates enough.

  11. @davidtobin100 They’ll have rotating artists.

    I’m excited.  Hickman’s Ultimate Thor ruled. 

  12. Lol how many times must a line “relaunch” before they are beating a dead horse? Don’t get me wrong, I loved millar/hitch on ultimates, bendis on spidey, and even the beginning of ultimate ff and ultimate x-men, but maybe its time to lay this line to rest. This line used to be special and now (with the exception of ult spidey) its a joke. “Is it better to burn out or fade away?” And all that. I’ll definitely try Hickman’s take, but I’m not expecting much.

  13. Are you sure this isn’t from a year ago when Ultimatum was going on?

    I kid, I kid. But the idea of relaunching the Ultimate line does sound very familiar at this point since they just did it like a year ago. I sure hope they can take the line back to where it was during the original Ultimates run (which is one of my favorites) because I’ve really lost interest since Ultimatum. Though I really enjoyed Hickman’s Ultimate Thor, so I have high hopes for this.

  14. I’m excited by this, I’ve not been reading any Ultimate stuff for a while, but it’ll be interesting to see what Hickman’s got up his sleeve for the UU, and his Ultimate Thor was amazing. 

  15. SWEET!!! (please don’t end ultimate spider-man!!!!)

  16. So Ribic is off X-Force then?

  17. I figured Millar was going to be off Ultimates sooner than later. He explicitly stated in interviews that his current Ultimate Avengers stories were leftover ideas from when he was originally on Ultimates, so I guess he finished up all of them. Gonna give this a shot.

  18. I gotta be honest when I say that I’m pretty luke warm on this one.  I like Hickman, but I don’t know if its enough to get to into the Ultimates universe.  I haven’t really been too sucked in by any titles at this point (although I dabbled with Ultimate Spider-Man and Millar’s Ultimates).

  19. Apart from the idiotic title (Seriously just call it ‘The Ultimates’ and lose the ‘Ultimate Comics’ part) I’ll definitely give this a shot. Hickman and Ribic is a weird, but sexy team I’m willing to try.

    This is like, the 3rd relaunch of the Ultimate universe in the last couple of years right? 

  20. I follow the Ultimate books except for the Loeb stuff and I have and continue to enjoy it. Personally I don’t get the hate.
    Ultimate avenegrs has been hit and miss. The first two arcs were brainless by entertaining. The vampire one was a mess (Dillon’s stiff art didn’t help). I get the feeling that Millar works backwards from his punchline (Red Skull just wanted his Dad to come back from the war, Captain America teleports all the vampires to the desert) and builds the whole narrative around that. Ultimate Spider-Man remains great and Ultimate Thor was great and i’m looking forward to the Ultimate Doom (or whatever) collection.

  21. I should be really excited about this but all I think when I read this is that Bendis is leaving Spider-man.

  22. seriously marvel just stop with the ultimate universe. 

  23. @mrmister  Ultimate Spider-Man is super great though. Just the titles are dumb. It’s great because they don’t have to ever return to the status quo like in the regular continuity. The characters are allowed to evolve and change in different ways; especially Reed Richards who is such a cold fish in regular continuity. They just take things to conclusions.

    They just need to pick a style like the vertical bars or something and stuck with it to differentiate it from the regular titles, not keep adding the word Ultimate into every title as much as possible.

    My main problem is things like having no Wasp character in EITHER universe for not particularly good reasons, Marvel should be developing their iconic characters, not eviscerating them.

  24. So they re re launching the Ultimate line. Weird approach. I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t intrigued.

  25. Nice. I haven’t really enjoyed The Ultimates right now, excited for Hickman’s take on them.

  26. I’m going strictly trades on the Ultimates stuff, as of now. I just can’t keep up with the issues.

  27. Thank Christ, an Ultimates book not written by Loeb or Millar. Our long national nightmare is over.

  28. Marvel does not know what to do with the Ultimates line. News at 11.

  29. Wait, didn’t they just do this 2 years ago? If it wasn’t for Hickman being involved I would swear I clicked on an old article. 

  30. Just let it die!  I was a big fan, and supporter of the Ultimate Comics line.  It was special when it started and all the books had there good parts.  The sales pitch of this series is that it has continuity and it would be a fresh take on old characters.  I am done with the ultimate books.

  31. It seems to me that marvel are just trying to fix the mess that was Jeph Loeb. Things like this happen in business, you think you have a great idea (signing up Loeb), but it turns into a stinker (ultimatum) You spend time trying to fix it (cancel non viable/less successful books), but the concept is still go. So you go back to the well with someone who knows what the hell they are doing (Hickman). I run a decorative glass firm and the exact same thing happens and I’m sure happens in every industry.

    We shouldn’t give Marvel a hard time for trying to make a good concept successful. I am really pleased this is happening, Hickman seems a perfect fit for the (relatively) blank slate of the Ultimate universe. Also the naming is a bit silly, but in the (probably vain) hope of pulling in new readers, marvel have to be really explicit about where their books take place.

  32. As long as Loeb is kept out of the Ultimate Universe I’ll stay on issues. I like a lot of the guy’s earlier work but Ultimatium was awful and his contributions to the Ultimate Universe since have been well below par. If he’s announced I think I’m gonna stop picking Ultimate stuff up in issues.

  33. If the “point” of the ultimate universe is to be new reader friendly(er) I don’t think having one title be the center (must read?) book of the universe that is “is setting up a lot of stuff that will be used in the other Ultimate books moving forward” is a smart idea.

    That being said I love Hickman so will probably give this a look.

  34. Ribic pencilling or painting?