Ultimates 2 #13: The End of an Era

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By Ryan Penagos
Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Ultimates 2 #13 is finished and on its way to shelves. And its arrival marks the end of a five-year run, one of the most renowned in modern superhero comics. We grabbed relieved editor John Barber to get his thoughts on the book's end and show off a few pristine pages. MARVEL.COM: How does it feel to see Ultimates 2 come to an end? JOHN BARBER: It's really funny. No offense to anybody else I've ever worked with, but ULTIMATES 2 #13 is the best single issue of anything I've ever been involved in. And Ultimates was always--despite all the frustrations--my favorite book to work on. Not that I've had a huge impact, this one was always Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's baby (with, of course, Paul Neary, Laura Martin and Chris Eliopoulos, plus Andrew Currie and Paul Mounts on the first series). I remember when that original series was coming out, I was living in London, waiting for the paperback to come out. I wasn't working at Marvel or anything, I was going to grad school and making webcomics. Anyway, the trade paperback kept selling out, you couldn't find it in the city anywhere, at least not at the same times that I had any money. I finally got it after Christmas, 2002. I was totally blown away. It immediately became my favorite comic book series--and my wife's, too! So it was really cool to come in and work on the book once I started working at Marvel. And the other funny thing is that I genuinely like every single person working on [the] series. Mark, Bryan, Paul, Laura, Chris…all five of them are some of my favorite people I know. And Ralph Macchio, too. The other other funny thing is that when Ultimates 2 started, I was an Assistant Editor, not even working directly on the book. Then I started working on it as Assistant, then got promoted to Associate Editor, and now I'm a full Editor…my whole career at Marvel is spelled out in those credits pages… MARVEL.COM: Very cool. One of the most striking things about this issue is the giant 8-page gatefold spread in the book. Whose idea was that? BARBER: Hitch wanted to do some kind of fold-out, just something bigger than a regular spread. So it fell to me to go talk to our Senior Vice President Sales and Circulation, David Gabriel, who pretty much makes the decisions when it comes to this kind of thing. I asked him about doing a fold-out--we were talking about three or four pages, here--and he shook his head, said "no." He didn't see any upside to it. It would cost money and wouldn't bring any new readers in or anything. So I walked back to my office to tell Ralph, and try to figure out if we should come up with some kind of a plan to attempt this again, or how to break the news to Mark and Bryan; but before I can even open my mouth my phone rings--it's David G. In the 45 seconds it's taken me to walk down the hall, he's had an epiphany: He's willing to do it…but only if the gatefold is the biggest one anybody's ever done in a comic. Hitch was up for it--he really seemed to enjoy the challenge of composing an image that wide and that big. Mark revised his script to read: Okay, this is where we break records here. I've written this as a double-page spread and it would WORK as a spread, but I understand you guys have all been talking about the biggest and most kick-ass gatefold known to man. So the bigger and better you can make this the better. It's a bit of a cheek for me to get paid for more than a spread, especially when my only instruction is all the heroes versus all the monsters kicking ass with the Asgardians spread over one enormous image. Go for it! Then it was a matter of actually making the thing physically work. I sat down with Amy Vandevender, of Marvel's Print Logistics, and she worked everything out with our printer. See, the problem was that we couldn't physically print an 8-page-wide gatefold, not on our usual comic book printers. We had to break it in 2—it's really two 4-page gatefolds, in a mechanical sense, that basically form a really, really wide two-page-spread. Then Amy and I made all kinds of diagrams, mock-ups, Excel files; all to make sure this thing prints in the right place in the comic. I can't think of anything stupider than going through this effort, just to screw up the page order at the layout stage. If anything screws up this gatefold, it's going to be monumental, not just me typing "page 22" on a spreadsheet, where "page 18" should be. Oh, wait--did I say "gatefold"? Sorry, this isn't a gatefold--it's a GREATFOLD. MARVEL.COM: Magnificent. That's going to be some helluva book to top. When can we expect to see ULTIMATES 3? BARBER: Plans are the Loeb/Madureira/Lichtner series will start coming out at the end of the year! ULTIMATES 2 #13 (OCT062127) Written by MARK MILLAR Pencils & Wraparound Cover by BRYAN HITCH 56 PGS./Parental Advisory ...$3.99 FOC – 4/26, On-Sale – 5/16/2007
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