Paniccia on "Ultimate Spider-Man" #23's Character Expansion

On May 15, Marvel Comics' "Ultimate Spider-Man" #23 saw creative team Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez pick up with Miles Morales one year after the death of his mother in the previous issue -- and Miles hasn't put on the webs since his mother's death. While many readers knew about the time-jump in advance, that wasn't all the surprises Bendis and Marquez had in store -- the issue brought the first Ultimate introductions of Kate Bishop and the duo of Cloak and Dagger, as well as the reintroduction of an old, familiar face from Peter Parker's days as the Ultimate web-slinger.

To shed some light on the latest developments in this week's issue, CBR spoke with the Marvel editor in charge of the Ultimate line, Mark Paniccia, about bringing new characters into the Ultimate Universe and what it means for the line moving forward. Plus, check out an exclusive first look at "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #24 interior art.

CBR News: Mark, a lot of comic readers knew the one-year time jump in "Ultimate Spider-Man" #23 was happening, but what they probably didn't expect was the introduction of Ultimate Kate Bishop in the first few pages as the current girlfriend of Miles Morales. What drove the decision to bring an Ultimate version of Kate into the series?

Mark Paniccia: We'd gotten a lot of questions from readers asking if Miles was going to get a girlfriend. Bringing in a little romance was always in Brian's plans but we wanted to get past some other important coming-of-age stuff before complicating his life with a girlfriend. The jump to one year later gave us the kind of distance we needed for Miles to mature enough to have a more significant relationship with someone.

What was the design process like to differentiate her from her 616 counterpart?

We just said no bow and arrows.

The final page of the issue also introduces Cloak and Dagger to the Ultimate Universe. Ultimate Tandy Bowen was introduced all the way back in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #9, but this is the first time readers have seen an actual Ultimate version of Cloak and Dagger. Why was it the right time to finally give the duo an Ultimate counterpart?

Ooooh, Brian's been wanting to introduce them for the longest time. He really wanted to expand the cast of young superhumans that Miles could grow with and this is all part of a very well thought out strategy on his part.

Cloak and Dagger are chasing down Bombshell, who hasn't been seen since before Peter Parker's death. How long has Brian been waiting to bring her back into the book? Why haven't readers seen her around the Ultimate U until now?

There were a lot of things that needed to be established with Miles before getting back to Bombshell (who, if I had my way, would have her own book). Brian needed to establish relationships more local to Miles. His uncle, for instance, was a really big character thing that needed its own time and space to gestate for it to have the kind of impact it did on Miles' life.

The July solicitations for the Ultimate line mentions more young heroes appearing. Is the introduction of Kate, Cloak and Dagger and the reintroduction of Bombshell the start of an initiative to kick off an expansion of the Ultimate Universe's active hero roster?

Absolutely. Something that will pay off in a big way in 2014. I'm very excited about where this is leading and I think readers will really dig it, too.

"Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #23 is on sale now.

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