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Ultimate Comics Divided We Fall

Ultimates: Before the Fall

Sam Humphries talks about guiding the premiere team of the Ultimate Comics Universe into their darkest hour!

By Ben Morse

When it comes to the Ultimate Comics Universe, oft-used phrases like “anything goes” take on renewed meaning. That doesn’t make life too easy for heroes like the Ultimates, but it sure keeps things interesting.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #11 preview art by Luke Ross

In ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #10, the first issue that saw co-writer Sam Humphries and artist Luke Ross joining Jonathan Hickman, former Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards eradicated Washington D.C. in a haunting strike, decimating the U.S. government to the point where the off-site Secretary of Energy became next in line for the presidency.

“That’s something you can’t get away with in the mainline Marvel books, or in the movies, the cartoon shows, the video games—any place where they tell stories about Marvel characters,” says Humphries of the incident. “I’ve always looked at the Ultimate Universe as a place that is fundamentally different. Characters are bigger, stakes are higher, and fate is more extreme. Day to day life has sharper edges.

“It’s like the Earth’s axis is tipped one inch further to the left—you’d never be able to measure it, but everything about living on the planet would be irreversibly affected.”

With ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #11 coming May 30, things continue to spiral, with S.H.I.E.L.D. under dubious leadership and their former top operatives on the run as fugitives.

“The previous president removed Nick Fury and put a new guy in his place,” Humphries recounts. “Then an attack on Washington vaporized most of the United States government. The world security agency doesn’t know which way is up anymore. They’ve got an identity crisis, and to paraphrase Marshal McLuhan, the less identity we have, the more violence we see.

“[But] Nick Fury is always in control. Even when you rip S.H.I.E.L.D. away from him and put him on the run, he’s still the man with the plan.”

Other members of the Ultimates face their own personal trials as the world seemingly burns around them, perhaps none more so than Iron Man, who recently discovered his dormant brain tumor has returned and brought with it growing hallucinations.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #11 preview art by Luke Ross

“Tony Stark is the ultimate self-made man, the guy with the biggest brain in the room,” says Humphries. “What happens to him, and those around him, if we start to mess with that perception? Is he still a guy you’d trust to fly around in an armed suit of metal.”

Issue #10 also saw the return of Sue Storm, The Invisible Woman, member of the disassembled Fantastic Four and estranged lover of Reed Richards. Learning about the machinations of her old boyfriend will spur her back into action as a badly needed ally to the team.

“I love Ultimate Sue Storm,” Humphries states. “She’s got powers on the level of Jean Grey or The Scarlet Witch, powers everybody should be afraid of, even her friends and allies. She’s got smarts and a self-awareness that doesn’t let her be pushed around.

“The status of the Ultimate Fantastic Four is [SPOILERS] for [SPOILERS], and Reed will soon [SPOILERS] with everybody’s favorite [SPOILERS] [SPOILERS].”

ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #12, due out June 27, will see Hickman take his final bow as Humphries assumes full reins of the title—but with no plans to ignore the tracks his predecessor and collaborator has laid down.

“Jonathan’s been crushing it on ULTIMATES with some huge developments,” he says. “I’d be a fool not to work from what he’s set up—it’s a world rife with potential and big moments. At the same time, Hickman has maintained from our very first conversation that it’s imperative for me to write what I’m interested in writing instead of trying to ape or continuing someone else’s work. What you’re reading now is a true blend of two perspectives on the Ultimates.”

It all leads into Divided We Fall, a story stretching across all three Ultimate titles that will hit beginning in ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #13 this July.

“The thing about Divided We Fall is that the books are interconnected, but not interwoven,” Humphries explains. “All the books are experiencing the same chaos, but each book gives you a different point of view. What Miles Morales sees isn’t what Thor sees isn’t what Rogue sees. So each book tells the same larger story, but they can be read independently of each other.”

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