Jeph Loeb talks "Ultimates" #3.2, Previews Exclusive Pages

Writer Jeph Loeb and the art team of Joe Madureira & Christian Lichtner launched the third volume of Marvel's "The Ultimates" series with an action-packed issue full of surprises and mysteries. The excitement continues next week as "Ultimates 3" #2, or 3.2, hits stores. To tide fans over until then, CBR News presents an exclusive six-page preview of "Ultimates" #3.2, and spoke with Loeb about the new issue.

The biggest shock of "Ultimates" 3.1 came in its closing pages, when the Scarlet Witch was gunned down by a mysterious assailant. In 3.2, there won't be any time for the team to process her death. "We're still going balls on fire (whatever that means!)," Jeph Loeb told CBR News. "What I really like about Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's two volumes was there was a lot of talking before you got to the action. My take is that those two volumes set the stage specifically so we could cook a while. By 3.3 we'll slow down a little, investigate who Wanda and Pietro are and were, and what might be really going on here."

Part of the reason why the Ultimates won't have time to grieve for the Scarlet Witch is because they'll have their hands full dealing with an assault on their headquarters by the Brotherhood, the mutant terrorist group lead by the Witch's father, Magneto. "It's very clear what Magneto and The Brotherhood are doing there," Loeb said. "And it will have a profound effect on Pietro. He's got the furthest to go in this story and I like him for it. And in a certain way, the Ultimates are on the wrong side. We'll see how that progresses."

While the rest of the Ultimates tangle with evil mutants in issue #3.2, Hawkeye has a less than friendly encounter with Spider-Man. As readers can see by the preview art, Hawkeye uses his crazy behavior to get Spider-Man to underestimate him. Which may lead some to wonder is Hawkeye really as unhinged as he seems? Or is the unstable and erratic behavior of the former black-ops agent just an example of tactical maneuvering?

"I wouldn't put anything past Hawkeye at this point," Loeb remarked. "As a far better writer than I once put it, 'A man without Hope is a Man without Fear!'"

The identity of the Scarlet Witch's murderer and Hawkeye's true state of mind are just two of the many mysteries left to solve in "Ultimates 3." "Joe, Chris, and I spent so much time leaving out breadcrumbs for the mysteries to follow," Loeb said. "Is it different from what Mark and Bryan did? Yep. But as it continues, the characters and the story get much deeper, richer. It was designed to be a roller coaster that shot out of the cannon and then slowed later only to whip around when you least expect it. There's so much to go. Hank's possible redemption. Valkyrie's story. Panther's background. Where Cap has been. How Jan got the team. Why Spidey? Even the exchange on Thor's Hammer. When you add all the pieces together, it'll be great fun. Love the cast. Love where we're going right into Ultimatum."

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