Marvel Comics finished strong on the final day of New York Comic Con 2012, bringing the Ultimate Comics Panel to New York for an update on all things Ultimate. “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” writer Sam Humphries, “Ultimate Comics X-Men” artist Carlo Barberi and Marvel Senior Editor Mark Paniccia took the stage to detail what’s next for Ultimate U.
Moderator and Sales & Communications Coordinator James Viscardi was running slightly late, so Pannicia, Carlo Barberi and Sam Humphries kicked things off with a quick Q&A session.
The first fan had a question about the members of Mark Millar’s Ultimate Avengers.
“Black Widow’s about to take a much more central role in the Ultimate Universe,” said Humphries. “She’s now Commander Chang, head of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The writer reiterated that Black Widow is one of his favorite characters to write. There are plans for War Machine, but none for Punisher and Blade.
A question came up about Kitty Pryde and her role as an agent for social change in the Ultimate U.
“Kitty is our centerpiece character,” said Pannicia. “You can read what you want out of [the book]. The Ultimate Universe is supposed to be the world outside your window.”
The concept of “dead is dead” got applause from the crowd, which prompted Humphries to exclaim, “We could kill somebody right now!”
The panel took a poll and somebody shouted out they wanted to see Ultimate Hawkeye killed. A minority of the crowd raised their hand, and everyone had a good laugh. Someone shouted out Sue Storm, another Reed Richards.
A question regarding the sense of normalcy and realism in the Ultimate Universe came up.
“We only have three books. So it’s easier to weave a complete story in one universe when you’re only dealing with three books and three different creator teams,” said Humphries. “We’re also lucky in that we have three books with three very distinct points of view.” Ultimates is the broad overview of the world, Spider-Man is the viewpoint of a single person, while the X-Men goes underground.
“The landscape that’s been torn up with ‘Divided We Fall’ is going to be like that for a while,” said Pannicia. “There’s no reason for us to fix it right away.”
A fan had a question about whether Humphries looked at the “What If…?” story where Captain America became president when crafting “United We Stand.”
“These were two stories that we paid attention to because we wanted to make sure we weren’t just retreading old ground,” said Humphries. “I don’t know if anyone has ever figured it out, but there are two Easter Eggs in ‘Divided We Fall’ and ‘United We Stand’ [that reference the ‘What If…?’ story].”
Pannicia spoke about the differences between Peter Parker and Miles Morales and the challenge Morales has as a normal kid and not someone on the genius level of Peter or Reed Richards.
Director of Communications Arune Singh came onstage and mentioned there was a really great presentation prepared, but due to a schedule mix-up, the moderators thought the panel began later than it did. Singh stayed onstage to help moderate the panel and bring his trademark humor to the Q&A.
Many of the questions were about the death of Peter Parker and the decision by editorial to remove the character from the board.
“We felt like it was time to do a big shake-up,” said Pannicia. “Brian had a really good story that he pitched us and a really good plan on how to go past that. It’s as simple as that. Good timing and good ideas.”
KIlling characters continued to be a theme of the panel. Someone noted they would like to see Ultimate Iron Man killed.
“He is the character with the most amount of cancer right now,” said Humphries.
Singh also took an opportunity to tease what Brian Wood has planned in “Ultimate X-Men.”
“He’s going to do something with the X-Men that’s never been done,” said Singh. “You’re going to be really surprised by this one when you see it in a great Brian Wood way.”
A young man asked if there would be more new characters in the Ultimate U.
“I literally have a character who is President of the United States who can say, ‘You have to be in our book or we’ll put you in jail,” said Humphries. Both Pannicia and Humphries noted new characters will be showing up in “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” and “Ultimate Comics X-Men.”
When a fan asked about plans for Ultimate Jessica Drew to get her character more fleshed out, Pannicia and Humphries leaned away from the microphone and had a brief conversation before Pannicia leaned in and said, “Keep reading.”
One of the questions dealt with Nick Fury, Jr. in the Marvel Universe proper.
“I think it’s really cool to see an idea from the Ultimate Universe carry over the Marvel Universe,” said Singh. “Marcus Johnston is a different character. Nick Fury Jr in the Marvel Universe is more like James Bond in Casino Royale. You’re going to see in ‘Secret Avengers’ that he’s going to have a unique role in the Marvel Universe. He’s not just a carbon copy.”
“Nick Fury has been in ‘Ultimate X-Men.’ He’s a guy who’s spent most of his professional life working for S.H.I.E.L.D.,” said Humphries. “He has a contingency plan on what would happen if this ever happened to him and he’s about to pull it off.”
Barberi spoke about his love of drawing “Ultimate Comics X-Men.”
“What’s not to like? You’re drawing these incredible characters. I do love Jimmy Hudson, I really like him. The entire book and what’s coming — keep reading. What I can tell you is that every page I do I try to do the best I can so you guys can enjoy and have fun.”
Singh teased new costumes for the X-Men, giant battles with big Sentinels and more.
“You see that I try to add a lot of detail in the pages,” said Barberi, “because I just don’t know when to stop. I love all the [characters]. I’m having a blast drawing Rogue right now.”
The panel continued on, letting the audience know tidbits like where “Spider-Men” falls in continuity (before “Divided We Fall”) and a young man who said he wanted to see Reed Richards killed because, “I just want to see everything explode.”
Pannicia also confirmed more on the Ultimate Beetle will likely be coming up in 2013 in “Ultimate Spider-Man.”
The lightning round of yes-or-no questions started — including Pannicia answering a fans question about a book beyond the core three Ultimate books such as an “Ultimates Runaways” book. Pannicia answered, “Yes.”
With that, the panel wrapped and close the door on the Ultimate U for this year’s New York Comic Con.