In CATACLYSM: THE ULTIMATES’ LAST STAND, the Ultimate Universe faced its greatest threat to date with the arrival of a hungry Galactus intent on devouring Earth. Against all odds the planet will survive, and the Ultimate Universe will see another day, but some of those who fought the World Devourer won’t live to be part of it.
In the pages of CATACLYSM #4, no less a man than Captain America gave his life to buy his fellow heroes time to escape the wrath of Galactus. When the dust settles, the heroes will gather to mourn their dead in SURVIVE, a one-shot by CATACLYSM writer Brian Michael Bendis, joined by artist Joe Quinones.
SURVIVE closes out one chapter of the Ultimate Universe and sets the stage for the next. We spoke to Bendis and Quinones for an exclusive look at what fans should expect from comics’ most unpredictable universe.
Brian Michael Bendis: This is the Ultimates’ last stand, so some of the Ultimates had to have a last stand. It’s just a very Captain America moment, not unlike the famous scene with him and Bucky [in AVENGERS #4], getting into a plane and making that heroic last stand. It seemed like an Ultimate version of a very classic Captain America moment.
Marvel.com: How does SURVIVE provide a bridge between the events of CATACLYSM and the next phase of the Ultimate Universe?
Brian Michael Bendis: It’s a funeral for Captain America. The Ultimate Universe is very good at very meaningful funerals.
As we go around the room during Tony [Stark’s] very eloquent and heartfelt speech, we flash back into the world of Miles Morales, the world of Kitty Pryde, the world of Sue Storm, and we get to see the immediate fallout from the events of Cataclysm, and how it is shaping them going forward.
We’re kind of setting up where the characters are headed. We think it’s a wonderful send-off to Captain America and what the Ultimates meant to all of us, and it also bridges where we’re going to go with all the franchises.
Marvel.com: Joe, what were the challenges for you with this story? Is it difficult to balance epic scale with a somber tone?
Joe Quinones: Well we just had this staggering event in the Ultimate Universe resulting in the tragic deaths of millions. There’s a whole range of emotions that we deal with as we endure the grief of having lost a loved one. We become desperate, angry, depressed. We joke, we laugh and cry. Brian did an amazing job capturing that in his script. It was my challenge to try and capture those emotional nuances in the “acting” of each of the characters in the story. Hopefully I did!
Marvel.com: Brian, was it a tough story to write?
Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, the Ultimate Universe is like a child of mine. It was me and [original ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and CATACLYSM artist] Mark Bagley, it was us first, it was only us, and it’s grown and it’s breathed and it’s lived and it’s changed, and so I take a lot of pride in what it is and what it was and what it can still become.
Marvel.com: Joe, who were the Ultimate characters you were especially keen to bring to the page?
Joe Quinones: Miles Morales was easily the character I was most excited to draw in this book. I fell in love with him the moment he graced the pages of ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN. Great character and a killer costume.
Second to Miles would probably be Kitty Pryde, who I got to draw an extended scene. Always loved her character in [both universes], and Brian provided a very charming, funny scene to draw with her.
Marvel.com: What does the future look like for the Ultimate Universe after CATACLYSM?
Brian Michael Bendis: You’ve got all these characters [that] have been through hell together and now they’re coming out the other side and they’re kind of committed to each other, now that Captain America’s gone and some other characters aren’t making it back. A lot of these characters are very young, and with that comes a lot of emotion, a lot of drama, a lot of people making some disastrous mistakes both in their professional and in their personal lives; and all of that will be on display right away.
Marvel.com: Every character is going to be deeply affected by what they've been through, but who are the characters to keep an eye on?
Joe Quinones: To my mind, I’d say to keep an eye on Miles, Kitty and Jessica [Drew]. They’re in a transformative period now, and that arc is just beginning.
Brian Michael Bendis: Miles has grown up quite a lot, he’s made some pretty bold moves as Spider-Man, but there’s parts of the Peter Parker legacy that still haunt him, including how he got his powers, where his powers came from, and who he’s going to have to answer to because of the powers that he’s got. As Miles’ spotlight has grown, people’s focus on him has grown, and with that comes a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff.
Brian Michael Bendis: It really feels very much to me like it felt when we were writing the first year of the Ultimate Universe. These are very young, very exciting stories. It feels dangerous while we’re writing them, in the best way.
Joe Quinones: It’s a transformative time now in the Ultimate Universe. A generational shift. The ALL-NEW ULTIMATES are up to bat now and must grapple with the big red boots they have to fill. It’ll be fun to read about them coming into their own.
Brian Michael Bendis: One could argue, if you look at what the Ultimate Universe was when we started, and how much of it has been co-opted by the movies and by television, we were kind of a couple of years ahead of our time, and we’re very proud of that. With that said, we’re kind of stripping away everything that’s been co-opted by other mediums, and putting in all new stuff, and that’s very exciting to us.
Read the conclusion to CATACLYSM: THE ULTIMATES’ LAST STAND on February 26 and then keep watching Marvel.com for an upcoming interactive chat with the SURVIVE team!