Marvel NOW!

Wednesday Q&A: Sam Humphries

The universe-straddling writer gets set to reconstruct the Ultimates and launch Uncanny X-Force into Marvel NOW!



Ultimate Comics Ultimates #19 preview art by Scot Eaton

By Jim Beard

How does a writer make a name for himself? Well, if you’re Sam Humphries, you do it by taking on the really big stories, and they don’t get much bigger than the Reconstruction of the Ultimate Universe in ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES, not to mention launching UNCANNY X-FORCE into Marvel NOW!

With ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #19 in stores December 19 and UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 coming in January, we clocked in with Humphries to ask him just how big things will get on these two books. Sam, what makes the current ULTIMATES story the perfect jumping on point for readers, in your opinion?

Sam Humphries: America has turned a corner, and with it, the cast and status quo of ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES have emerged into a new era. The United States have come out of war once again united, and our heroes have emerged from battle, once again a team, with a new mission: keep the fragile unity from splintering all over again. Overall, what kind of a story is “American Reconstruction”?

Sam Humphries: President Cap has inspired unity and the Ultimates have defeated the immediate threats looming over America. Will the Ultimates be able to protect that delicate peace from menaces both overt and secret? Will America step up to the task of forming a stronger union? As a writer, what are the challenges in a big-idea move like "President Cap"?

Sam Humphries: Writing Captain America is like flying a jet plane. You can do crazy amazing stuff with something so turbo charged! And while you're in the air, there's some hot dogging and artistry to what you're doing. But if you don't have a flight plan, you're in trouble. And you sure as hell better bring it back in one piece, because that sucker is worth a billion dollars.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #19 preview art by Scot Eaton From where does the Black Widow draw for her leadership abilities? What will be her biggest hurdles as she becomes the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Sam Humphries: From her years as a top-shelf S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Monica Chang has big-picture skills. She doesn't let ego get in the way of making the right decision. She's a badass with the respect of the rank and file as well as the Ultimate. And she's a mother—you ever try to get in between a mother and her baby? Well, now all of global security is her baby. Mess with that at your peril. You’ll be using the Ultimate versions of Scorpio and Hydra; where do you begin as a writer with such new interpretations for the Ultimate world? What are your needs and wants?

Sam Humphries: Is it new? Is it surprising? Is it respectful of the versions that came before it? Is it fun to write? Will it be badass to read? What's the ultimate, coolest thing about writing ULTIMATES? What makes you satisfied about it at the end of the day?

Sam Humphries:  ULTIMATES is like “Watch the Throne” during the Super Bowl halftime, broadcast from the heart of the Sun. It's the biggest characters on the biggest stage with a mandate to take them to new places. That's the goal. What does being asked to take on a Marvel NOW! X-book like UNCANNY X-FORCE mean to you in your career? And how would you define the book moving forward?

Uncanny X-Force #1 black and white preview art by Ron Garney

Sam Humphries: Mutant Ninja Noir! In a world where Wolverine is running a prep school and Sunfire is a damn Avenger, there's gotta be a place for the weirdoes, the scoundrels, the truly uncanny. Psylocke and the crew will be pulling back the curtain on the darkest corners of the Marvel Universe, confronting things that even the X-Men fear and hate! There are a lot of books with Uncanny in the title, but this book is gonna be the most Uncanny of them all.

It's been a blast to be involved in Marvel NOW! Everyone is sharing their books and everyone is bringing their A+ game—it’s crazy pressure/positive motivation for me to up my game! And UNCANNY X-FORCE—I love Rick Remender's run. I've loved it since before anyone from ever thought to interview me. But I love it enough to leave it alone. It’s one story, with a beginning, middle, and end, and no one needs me to do a weak, watered down version of that. It's still dark, weird, and sticky, but we're taking UNCANNY X-FORCE away from the black ops wet works, and into new territory. Which of the characters in UNCANNY X-FORCE made your writer fingers twitch to get a hold of them and start working with them?

Sam Humphries: This is my team. Marvel gave me complete latitude to define the cast. I am working in a shared universe, which means I can't have everything I want, but every character in this book is there because I'm dying to write them. That said Puck is the character that has surprised me the most. I didn't expect writing him to feel so loose and organic. I guess it's because we're both smart asses.

Uncanny X-Force #1 black and white preview art by Ron Garney What will define Bishop's role as the first adversary here? What's in his make-up that makes him do what he does?

Sam Humphries: Bishop has been through a lot of phases as a character, but he has always been a zealot. He will stop at nothing to do what he believes is right. Sometimes those beliefs put him on a collision course with former allies. It's unfortunate for those allies, because you never want to cross a zealot! What about artist Ron Garney makes him a great addition to UNCANNY X-FORCE's creative team?

Sam Humphries: He's the true killer of the book. His art is so exciting and dynamic—it's gonna blow people away. This is a Ron Garney people haven't seen before. It's amazing to work with an artist so fearless; I know whatever weird stuff I throw at him, he's gonna nail it.

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