When you're a teenager in Marvel's Ultimate Universe, chances are good that you'll see some pretty traumatic stuff. But when you're a teenager who spends his after school hours webswinging through the concrete canyons of New York City, you'll encounter traumatic things on an everyday basis.
Still, nothing could prepare Peter Parker and his fellow cast members of "Ultimate Spider-Man" for the horrors they would face in the recently completed "Ultimatum" storyline. As Spider-Man, Peter met the challenges of "Ultimatum" head on and tried to save everybody he could, but what effects did the storyline have on Peter's psyche? How will the tragedy impact his friends and the city he calls home?
These questions and more will be answered this week when Spider-Man's Ultimate U adventures are relaunched with"Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Lafuente. CBR News spoke with Bendis about what fans can expect from the series.
At the end of "Ultimate Spider-Man" #133, the final issue of the series, it looked like Peter Parker had perished during the events of "Ultimatum." Readers of "Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem" #2, on sale now, know that to be untrue, as Peter was found very much alive in the wreckage of Manhattan. However, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll still be Spider-Man when "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" begins.
"You get to find out who Spider-Man is in the first issue," Bendis told CBR News. "I will tell you this, though, there's a massive status quo change for a Spider-Man title. It's a status quo you've never seen in the Spider-Man comics, TV shows, and movies. It's one that's very cool and organic to the character. The series is still very much Peter Parker's story, but what's going on here you've never seen before. I think people will like what they see."
When "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1 begins, a few months have passed since the end of "Ultimatum," and the waters from the tidal wave that Magneto used to drown the city of New York have receded. "A story where there were still millions of bodies floating in the water from 'Ultimatum' would have been a little unappealing," Bendis joked. "So 'Ultimate Comics Spider-Man' begins on the reopening of New York City. Not to overuse that term, but it's a 'brand new day' and time has passed. A lot of things have happened in Peter Parker's world in that time and we jump right in. We don't flashback. We pick up and see where everybody who survived this thing is. Where are they? What choices have they made? Who's dating who? Who's gone on to do what? All these things will be answered in the first issue. In fact on just about every page you find something out."
In the months that have passed, the world of the Ultimate Universe has changed significantly thanks to the events of the Ultimatum and those changes will be addressed in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man." "The way New York works and reacts to Spider-Man and mutants will be quite different," Bendis said. "That's the backdrop that all the Ultimate books are dealing with, but Peter's point of view of the Ultimate Universe has always been different and we'll continue down that road."
The criminal underworld of the Ultimate Universe has also been undergoing some changes, and in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1, the webslinger's foe, Mysterio, claims the crown of New York City's top crime lord. "Mysterio is coming out guns blazing. They always say after a war the mob really has a field day and that's what is happening here," Bendis explained. "Something bad happened and Mysterio took advantage of it. The Kingpin and Norman Osborn storylines had wrapped and they were the two big overreaching arcs that permeated the first volume of the series; so I wanted a new storyline that would hopefully continue for years amongst the other stories. And Mysterio, the character and who the character will reveal them self to be, all seemed like good Spider-Man style fun to put in the middle of these status quo changes."
Mysterio won't be the only enigmatic character maneuvering about in the pages of "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man." Readers will also be introduced to the Ultimate Universe incarnation of the Shroud. "We'll be teasing this person. You won't know if they're male or female but it is someone very famous and we'll be revealing their identity in the first arc," Bendis explained. "This Shroud is very different from the Marvel Universe one. Our Shroud is someone you've seen. They're a survivor of 'Ultimatum' who for some reason feels they can't show their face anymore."
The Shroud is just one of several new supporting cast members in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man." "There are quite a few new faces. Some are secret and some are known faces who were in other books and don't have a home anymore after 'Ultimatum.' So they'll be making their home in Peter's life," Bendis stated. "And you'll also meet some totally new characters. In issue #2 you get a new villain and by new I mean not an Ultimate version of an existing Marvel character, but a brand new one. And in issue #7 you'll get more new characters."
"Ultimatum" saw things get pretty grim for Peter Parker, so "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" readers can expect a little more fun and excitement. "There's a lot of mystery but the opening arc itself isn't going to be that dark," Bendis said. "If anything, the cast is coming into this story as empowered survivors. I think everyone who lived through 'Ultimatum' will feel empowered with a good sense of self."
Bendis couldn't be happier with the way series artist David Lafuente has brought to life the empowered established cast and all the new characters of "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man." "David is many, many issues into 'Ultimate Comics Spider-Man' and every single page is better than the next," Bendis remarked. "I'm so happy with him. I'm happy for what he's done and I'm happy and excited for him because a lot of people are going to see what he's done."
As fans have observed, Lafuente's style is quite different from previous Ultimate Spidey artists like Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen. "David's work has a different tone. It's almost European Manga. There is as much Milo Manara in there as there is Manga," Bendis said. "Beautiful illustration is beautiful illustration and good storytelling is good storytelling. He's delivering both of those.
"I had a similar experience with Mike Oeming on 'Powers,'" Bendis continued. "People were like, 'That's not who you want on a crime book.' And now there's no one else you can ever imagine drawing 'Powers.' So I think it will be the same thing with David. It just takes a couple of issues for people who aren't already digging it to dig it, because you can't look at those pages and not go, 'Wow those are really nice.' They're just different than what we've been serving before. I've literally seen hundreds of pages of what you're about to see and they're just great. I think people are going to fall in love with them. There's beautiful acting and just great drawing."
When Bendis introduced the world to the Ultimate adventures of Spider-Man, he found himself in an interesting position. Now almost 10 years later with the launch of "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #1, the writer is in a completely different but just as interesting position. "When we first launched 'Ultimate Spider-Man' and the whole Ultimate line there were some very strong negative and ambivalent reactions that were washed away pretty quickly and I'm curious as to the reactions to this and if the changes will be met fondly," Bendis said. "I think they will be because there's nothing in the book that isn't fun, but it's interesting to launch the book again a decade later when people have a personal perception of what they think they the Ultimate Universe should be."