|ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #7 cover by David Lafuente|
Following the devastating events of Ultimatum, Aunt May has turned the Parker residence into a "halfway house" of sorts for super heroes, with the Human Torch and Iceman both moving in. In ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #8 on March 10, writer Brian Michael Bendis and guest artist Takeshi Miyazawa conclude their two-part tale helping introduce readers to Peter's new life, and give a hint of the way things will stay for the future.
Bendis explains that he's had Peter's new status quo planned for "quite a while," and that the impetus for it "was a mixture of two things."
"Number one, I was a really big fan of [the animated 'Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends' series] and always wrote down in my notebook, even from the first year I was on the book, 'What would the Ultimate version of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends be?' I [toyed with it] a little bit in a couple of other arcs I had, and then I was remembering when I was a little kid, my mom would have these kids stay over at our house, some of [whom] had epilepsy. It was kind of just a thing she was doing, y'know? Feeding them and just [letting them] hang out. I don't have a clear recollection of them, [but] there were a lot of kids in the house.
"[After] the tragedy [of Hurricane Katrina] in New Orleans, a lot of people were taking in families and it just made me think. Then soon afterwards [writer Jeph] Loeb was laying [down] his Ultimatum plans and I said, 'There really is room there, with a tragedy like that, to have everyone move into the house.' That dynamic was born out of Aunt May knowing Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and it takes the whole thing to a new place. I get really excited about it because I'm desperately looking for, any time I can find it, a Spider-Man story you just have never seen before. And believe me, [they're] not easy to find. I thought, well, this opens the door to tons of Spider-Man stories you've never seen before."
Though the Parker residence already has more than enough occupants, Bendis thought of adding at least one more before reconsidering the idea.
"I toyed with the idea of Kitty moving in, but then realized that I have another story to tell with her," he teases.
As for the rest of Peter's new housemates, Bendis looked both to dynamics already in place as well as those that would provide the best story opportunities for the future.
"Gwen [Stacy] was already there, that dynamic was set, and Johnny was already one of Peter's closest friends [who has] taken on more of the Harry Osborn role in this book," the writer notes. "Then the Iceman thing came about because I thought, 'That would be interesting, they don't really know each other that well.' That's more interesting that they're not best friends, so that maybe Peter doesn't even like Bobby or vice versa. But Bobby has nowhere else to go, so that dynamic got very exciting."
|ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 cover by David Lafuente|
"I don't think the appeal is very evident right away," agrees Bendis. "The thing is, [with] his fancy lifestyle, he's kind of like a child star. It's not bringing him much value of life. I mean, even he feels that. He goes, 'My life is just-there's nothing there.' So living a more normal life will enrich him in the long run, whereas the high-flying life of a super hero is fun, but there are pieces missing. It's a hard adjustment, being normal when you haven't been normal for all that time. But also, they weren't the Fantastic Four for all that long in the Ultimate Universe. They went on a handful of adventures and they broke up. We'll be dealing with that in both ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN and the ULTIMATE ENEMY series."
On the other hand, Bobby Drake has come to the Parkers' as a last resort, which puts him in a different place altogether.
"He doesn't have the history with the characters that the others do, and I think that's going to be very interesting as well," remarks Bendis. "I have plans for Bobby, I have big plans for Bobby, and I'm very excited to get to them. I think, initially, he'll just be happy to have somewhere to sleep, and the kindness of Aunt May certainly is overwhelming. Once that settles, what the next phase of the adjustment will be, will be very interesting. Will he rise to the occasion and become the man he is destined to be, or will he falter? Will he continue to be a super hero?"
For Aunt May, giving shelter to Gwen, Johnny, and Bobby has allowed her to serve a greater purpose of her own.
"We talk about [that] in [ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #7]," relates Bendis. "Mary Jane is looking at it going, 'Maybe Aunt May's having some kind of a nervous breakdown,' or it's just because she's found her calling. She goes, 'The feeling I have taking care of Peter, I can have it four times as much.' She's found that thing she can do now at this stage in her life that is special, [and] that's taking care of these kids that need to be taken care of. It's a very empowering, very rewarding experience."
Though Kitty Pryde, Bobby's former teammate and Peter's ex-girlfriend, doesn't live with Peter, Johnny and the rest, she'll still play a considerable role in the series as it continues, as fans just recently learned she has donned the mantle of the Ultimate Shroud.
"She's in a very dark place," warns Bendis. "Her whole world has fallen apart. She's one of the public mutants, she's getting all the bad stuff that Magneto has brought to the world [and] she's taken it right to the face. That's a very interesting point for her character, but I'm not necessarily
|ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #9 cover by David Lafuente|
And, beginning with a new story-arc in issue #9, things will only get worse for the former X-Man.
"Starting with #9 and on, Kitty's life completely falls apart," says Bendis. "The Feds actually come to school to get her because she's a mutant. She's a mutant and she's living out in the world, and she was warned, 'You start using your powers out in front of everybody, they're going to come get you.' And they come get her right in the middle of class."
Bendis will also introduce two new characters in the coming months, beginning with ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8:
"Issue #8 is going to be a lot of fun because we're going to debut a new Ultimate character in the form of Rick Jones as he takes a mantle that will be familiar to certain Marvel readers. And that's a character we'll see again in ULTIMATE ENEMY. And also, a brand new Ultimate villain tears right into Peter's life [in the story-arc beginning with issue #9]. I can't say too much about it, because it's kind of a mystery as to who the villain is, but the villain completely tears down Peter's life."
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