Lifting the Veil: Bendis Talks "Ultimate Origins"

Marvel Comics' Ultimate Universe has existed for several years now but it's still a place shrouded in mystery. In 2008, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Butch Guice will lift that veil in the six-issue miniseries "Ultimate Origins," and CBR News spoke with Bendis about the project.

"Ultimate Origins" was originally slated for release in November of this year, but Marvel pushed the series back to July or August of 2008 because of story considerations. "It isn't an 'it's not done' situation," Brian Bendis told CBR News. "There are whole issues done. It's actually a very beautiful series. Butch Guice has done a really nice job. What happened was the material 'Ultimate Origins' is displaying pays off in some other material that won't be ready until next year, so Marvel thought it best to hold it off and it will come out next summer. It's gorgeous and exciting stuff."

Moving "Ultimate Origins" to next year won't disrupt any other upcoming Ultimate titles. Bendis confirmed for CBR News that "Ultimates 3" #1 is still scheduled to hit stores this December.

"Ultimate Origins" came about because Bendis felt it was time for the Ultimate Universe to give up some of its secrets. "People have been following these books for a long time now and there's all this stuff they don't know and they've been like, 'When will you tell?'" said Bendis. "Then there's some other books coming out later that Jeph Loeb is doing, and having the information from 'Ultimate Origins' will make that story blow your mind.

"There's a lot of stuff we never told you about Nick Fury, Captain America and the Hulk," Bendis continued. "We've never seen their origins in the Ultimate Universe. How are they different? And how are they the same? There are other questions, too, like what was Magneto and Charles Xavier's relationship? There have been little hints at how these things are connected and what the connection is. We'll show you all this stuff just to show you but the series also sets up some amazing shit that's happening on the other side of the Ultimate Universe."

"Ultimate Origins" is structured differently than most superhero comics. "It's fractured and I like that," Bendis stated. "I'm a big fan of fractured storytelling and finding a way to do it that's not showing off and actually accentuates the storytelling is a lot of fun for me. This was an instance where I could do it in a way that wasn't so dramatic like in the films 'The Limey' or 'Out of Sight' but it is a set up for more dramatic situations. So most of the first issue takes place in 'World War II' but it also takes place in modern day and other times. It goes from modern day to World War II to the '60s and the '50s. Everything seems out of order but as you get towards the end, all of a sudden, you're going to go, 'Oh wow! Now I see!'"

Indeed, as many readers of the Ultimate titles have no doubt gleaned, the era of World War II is a critical focal point throughout the line. "The revelations begin with World War II," Bendis confirmed. "There's a decision that's made which launches what becomes the Ultimate Universe. The Ultimate U was birthed because of three things that happened during World War II."

Complementing "Ultimate Origins'" decades-spanning story is a similarly expansive cast of characters. "[The miniseries] has a huge cast but it spotlights certain characters," Bendis said. "There are whole sections following Nick Fury, Captain America, and Charles Xavier. We'll focus on a single character and their place in the larger tapestry. It's one of my favorite things to do anyhow and it definitely leans on my strengths."

It won't be just established heroes taking part in the action of "Ultimate Origins." Several Marvel characters make their Ultimate Universe debut in the miniseries. "I can't tell you who but they are a couple of big ones," Bendis teased.

Most of the events of "Ultimate Origins" occur before Peter Parker is even born, but the series will have an affect on "Ultimate Spider-Man" as well. CBR can confirm that Peter Parker's parents play a role in "Ultimate Origins."

"Ultimate Origins" is a miniseries that will shed light not only on the backgrounds of many of the Ultimate Universe's popular characters, but on the very nature of the universe itself. Bendis said, "What the Ultimate Universe was when it first debuted versus what it is now are all things that are dealt with in this story."

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

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