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The Fuse is Lit: Loeb Talks “Ultimates 3”

by  in Comic News Comment
The Fuse is Lit: Loeb Talks “Ultimates 3”

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!!!

This article discusses in detail the events of “Ultimates 3” #1, which is in stores now. If you don’t want the ending spoiled – READ THE COMIC FIRST!

“Ultimates 3” #1 (Variant Cover) on sale now

They’re back, baby! The Ultimate Universe’s most beloved super-team made its triumphant return to comics stores this week with the release of Marvel Comics’ “Ultimates 3” #1 by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureira. The issue finds the heroes wrestling with personal demons and the shocking murder of a team-member. CBR News spoke with “Ultimates 3” writer Jeph Loeb about the issue and what else might lie ahead for the team.

The most shocking event of “Ultimates 3.1” was the killing of the Scarlet Witch by a high-tech bullet fired by an unknown assailant. The next fives issues of the series revolve around the Witch’s death, but her murder is just one of a number of mysteries launched in issue #1.

“Every character has a mystery off of this opening issue,” Jeph Loeb told CBR News. “Some of that is in the conversation between Jan and Hank in the middle of the book. That page in particular is very important.”

“Ultimates 3” #1 Gatefold cover

“Sex, Lies and DVD,” the first arc of “Ultimates 3,” will also be an important lead-in to “Ultimatum,” the mysterious 2008 storyline that promises to redefine the Ultimate Universe. “The events of ‘Ultimatum’ started at the end of ‘Ultimate Power’, that’s just the fuse being lit,” explained Loeb. “‘Sex, Lies and DVD’ is the fuse. This is a story that will stand alone — but will also set up who delivers the ‘Ultimatum’ and what it means to the Ultimate Universe. I can promise you it’s not good!”

Art from “Ultimates 3” #1

The reasons behind the shell-shocked emotional status of the Ultimates in issue #3.1 are no mystery. Many team members are barely coping with the wounds inflicted upon them in the previous series. “Please blame Mark Millar, I do!” Loeb laughed. “Mark and I talked for hours about where he was going and what he would’ve done for ‘Ultimates 3.’ He was turning the ship toward making them closer to the Avengers, moving them out of S.H.I.E.L.D., moving them into the mansion — all that was his and I didn’t change or get him to change anything at the end of ‘Ultimates 2.’ I swear!

“But given that they thought Cap had betrayed them, that Thor was insane, that Hawkeye’s family was killed, that Hank had done some pretty questionable things, Tony was going to marry Natasha who murdered and set them up, and, and, and… there was no way I could start Season 3 without working with characters who were clearly damaged,” Loeb Continued. “Yes, 2.13 ended with them victorious, as it should. But the aftermath of that war, even just by leaving S.H.I.E.L.D., changed the dynamics of the team.”

Art from “Ultimates 3” #1

In addition to the dynamic changes wrought by leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. “Ultimates” 3.1 also revealed there’s been a change in leadership of the team. “Captain America, we now know, has been on some ‘personal’ journey that is — yes — tied into what happened in ‘Ultimate Power,'” Loeb confirmed. “And Tony’s been drinking. Again, given the conversation she has with Hank, they should be grateful she’s running the team!”

Captain America and Iron Man are wrestling some personal demons, but “Ultimates 3” #1 revealed the most emotionally scarred member of the team to be Hawkeye. “We’ll be spending a lot of time with Clint in the next few issues,” Loeb remarked. “He’s had the worst possible thing happen to him –he watched his family murdered; his children. (Jeez, is Millar a sickman or what!?) As Mark and I talked, we felt the character now had more in common with another Marvel character who has a target on his forehead. We’ll see how that instability pans out.”

Exclusive artwork from “Ultimates 3” #2, on sale in January

Hawkeye’s pained emotions are crystal clear, but the thoughts of the Ultimates’ newest member, Black Panther –who makes his Ultimate Universe debut in #3.1– are more inscrutable. “I love working with Ultimate Panther,” Loeb said. “He’s kind of the Batman of the team. You’ll notice he doesn’t speak… yet. That’s part of his story. And Joe Madureira just drew the @#$% out of him! That one page where he’s punching Venom rules!”

The Panther and the rest of the Ultimates’ battle with Venom in issue #3.1 begins when the villain launches a surprise attack on their headquarters and demands the whereabouts of a mysterious “She.” Venom is ultimately defeated, but the Scarlet Witch’s murder at the end of the issue has some readers reexamining the battle and wondering, if in his own deranged sort of way, could Venom have actually been attempting to help this “She?”

Exclusive artwork from “Ultimates 3” #2

“Great question. And while I’m not avoiding it — you’ve asked exactly the questions that were put there as part of the mystery,” Loeb said. “And after Venom’s defeated, the Wasp asks the right questions. Look for Jan to be our voice in the story. She’s not the detective. She’s the audience to a certain extent.”

Loeb is incredibly proud of the way artist Joe Madureira and colorist Christian Lichtner have brought to life all the mystery, action, and emotional turmoil of his “Ultimates 3” scripts. “What makes it so worth while is that they came back to comics after… how long? And they’re pretty righteous in their work!” Loeb stated. “No one on this team wants anything but the best for the Ultimates and for the Ultimate Universe as a whole. Mark and Bryan left us pretty big shoes, and I think Mark said it best when his reaction was, ‘It’s like a Bond Movie. Different actor, feels different — but it’s still Bond which is awesome.”‘ I’m just hoping he meant Daniel Craig and not Timothy Dalton!”

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Ultimate Marvel forum.

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