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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Ultimate Comics Ultimates

Sam Humphries and Joshua Fialkov pass the torch in the Ultimate Universe!

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #25 cover by Michael Komarck

By Jim Beard

After capping his run on ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES this June, writer Sam Humphries will leave the title in the capable hands of incoming scribe Joshua Fialkov as well as artist Carmine Di Giandomenico.

We approached both creators for debriefing; think of this as “exit” and “entrance” interviews, ULTIMATES style. The team’s made quite a mark on Humphries and Fialkov, though in different ways.

Marvel.com: Sam, what are your thoughts right now about leaving the book? What will you miss the most, in general?

Sam Humphries: It's bittersweet. I am definitely sad to leave. This book and my time on it will always be very special and memorable. It was my first super hero book, my first ongoing book, and my first big Marvel assignment, which is all to say I didn't take the decision lightly. A great project landed on my desk, something very exciting and thrilling. I am so psyched to talk about it—another time. [Laughs] But you can't write everything, and I had to leave the Ultimates behind.

I will miss the people the most. I will miss the characters—Cap, Tony, and Thor. And I'll miss working with my editors every day: Mark Paniccia, Jonathan Moisan, and Emily Shaw.

Marvel.com: Which character's development in the series are you most proud of and why? And which one do you feel you would have liked more time with?

Sam Humphries: Same answer to both questions: Monica Chang. I didn't expect to love writing her so much, but I had a lot of fun making her a prominent part of the Ultimate Universe. The fan response to Monica was really encouraging; it emboldened me to keep her central to the book. I had some big plans for her character; maybe another day.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #25 preview page by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Marvel.com: What's the coolest thing for you as the writer about your finale?

Sam Humphries: Getting to introduce the West Coast Ultimates. As a West Coast Avengers fan, it was fun to write them, even if it only ended up being for a short time. I made backstories for each of the characters that we were going to expand upon in the future. They'll still be there for other writers to use, if they like.

Marvel.com, Speaking of which, what will you do to set up the book for Josh's arrival? What has the hand-over been like overall?

Sam Humphries: The changeover happened so fast, there wasn't much I could do but keep going. I gave him all my notes—my ideas for the next arc, my plans and thoughts on the characters, potential plots I hid in the background—and said, "Take these, use them if you want, or ignore them if you want."

Marvel.com: Still, what kinds of things would you like to see him do?

Sam Humphries: I wanna see Josh be Josh. I want him to take this book by the horns and make it his own. That's the gift Jonathan Hickman gave me when I took over; he said, don't try to write the Ultimates like anyone who came before you. It was extremely liberating, and when you feel free like that, you can have fun. And I did! I had a lot of fun writing ULTIMATES. I'll miss it a lot.

Marvel.com: We thank you for your service, Sam. Josh, how did it feel to be offered ULTIMATES? What excited you about taking it on?

Joshua Fialkov: It was incredible. I literally couldn't believe them. I kept waiting for [Spider-Man editor] Steve Wacker to pick up the other end of the line and start laughing at me. The opportunity to work on a book with such an amazing legacy of creators, and that made such a huge impact not just on comics but on pop culture, is truly an honor. And, to get to write so many of my favorite characters with no holds barred even more so. It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #25 preview page by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Marvel.com: How would you describe the series, in terms of themes and tone?

Joshua Fialkov: When Mark and Emily and I first started talking, the thing we wanted to really fixate on is what can't you do anywhere but in ULTIMATES? What kind of stories and what kind of scale can only exist in this book? The Ultimate Universe is this amazing place in that it's expansive but, at the same time, its limits are still able to be pushed. That's what we're going to do. And, at the same time, the legacy of the Ultimate Universe as a whole, for me, is one of character first, and that's something that I'm really striving for.

Marvel.com: What will your first story be like, in general?

Joshua Fialkov: Awesome? More specifically? It's going to pull together story elements ranging from things Jonathan Hickman and Sam set up, to stories from back in the early Mark Millar era, while at the same time, I'm striving for a level of accessibility so that you don't need to be a Rhodes Scholar in Ultimatology to enjoy it.

Marvel.com: So, what from Sam's ULTIMATES might you pick up on and continue with?

Joshua Fialkov: Well, the Infinity Gems from Sam's run as well as the newer arrangement of team members are all there for me. A lot of the story elements we're playing with are things that Sam was intending to do, just, put through my own prism. That's how I make it sound like I didn't just outright steal all of Sam's ideas.

Marvel.com: You mentioned elements from even earlier in the series that interest you—any hints as to what you’ll use?

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #25 preview page by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Joshua Fialkov: Oh yeah, I'm a huge fan of the Ultimate Fantastic Four as well as the Ultimate Galactus and Ultimate Doomsday stories. All of which will be playing a part. And, anyone who's read any of my other work know I love changing status quos, and that means characters you haven't seen in a long time might just reappear and wreak havoc.

Marvel.com: Which of the characters are you itching to get your hands on and why?

Joshua Fialkov: Oh, all of the Fantastic Four, definitely. I love how divergent the Ultimate FF [is] from the Marvel Universe FF, and yet, at the same time, how alike they are. How the differences are so slight, and yet, it throws the entire balance so far off that it's like looking in a funhouse mirror.

Marvel.com: What sort of new characters do you want to introduce?

Joshua Fialkov: Well, after our Ultimates are disassembled, so to speak, it's going to be time for a New Ultimates crew to rise. Let's just say, I have a few ideas...

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