By Jason Juniewicz
Writer Brian Michael Bendis helped usher in the Ultimate Universe in 2000 with ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, and since then has become a permanent fixture in determining the future of the line. But there has always been one story that the godfather of the Ultimate U. has been dying to tell, but has never had the chance: the origin of the Ultimate Universe.
But beginning in November, Bendis will finally be able to let the cat out of the bag and let you in on something he has had in his head for years with the upcoming five issue mini-series ULTIMATE ORIGINS. "Way back in ULTIMATE TEAM-UP #3, I laid down some hints that there was a lot of connective tissue between the stories that are being told," says Bendis. "Bruce Banner
says to Spider-Man
in a little bit of hysteria, 'It's all connected.' And since then, we've dangled the idea that there's an overall reaching story that connects a lot of the characters of the Ultimate Universe.
"Years ago, me and Mark Millar--back in the Bill Jemas days in the first year of the Ultimate Universe--really planned out a lot of stuff," ntoes Bendis. "We said we'll just keep that, that will be stuff that we know and we'll get to it when you get to it. And over the years the stories have gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, but everyone is always asking, 'Well what does that mean? What does that mean? What's the connection?' And with that comes, 'Well where did Nick Fury
come from?' and 'Where did Wolverine
come from?' And we never saw Captain America
's origin. There's a lot of things we never saw, they told us about it. At one time Mark was going to do the origin of Captain America and that was going to cover half of it, but he didn't want to do it. And everyone loves a good origin story and here comes 10 of them in one mini-series."
With ULTIMATE ORIGINS, Bendis promises a comprehensive origin story and not something that will just lead to more questions. "If we're saying, 'Here is the story and it's ULTIMATE ORIGINS,' it isn't half the origin, it's the whole origin," promises Bendis. "And the reason I feel so confident about showing everything is because we have more stories to tell. When someone is scared to reveal everything, that means they don't feel they have anything else to show you. What we have in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, and all of the Ultimate books, and what Jeph Loeb is bringing to the table, we have so much more to show you that showing you this
is just promises kept."
With the promise of revealing the origins of many characters in the Ultimate Universe, many fans will be asking, "How are they going to compare with the origins in the original Marvel Universe?" Bendis says that he wants to remain true to the original source material, but adapt it for the society we live in today. "The mistake, what has been even when this line first started was to go, 'Okay Spider-Man's broke and I'm going to fix it,'" says Bendis. "It's just not broken, none of this is broken. And sometimes people laugh at me when I say this, but I really do see Stan and his collaborators, it's like modern day Shakespeare. You can take the stories and adapt them any way you want, and put them in any situation and it all rings true. You can take 'Hamlet' and put it on Wall Street and it works. It doesn't change the inherent truthfulness of what the story is about, so that's kind of what our job has always been about. So that is just more of the same in this instance.
"We said, 'Okay the original Marvel Universe was born out of a nuclear paranoia.' Everything was radiation and Gamma Rays. That's not really what our society is about. We said, 'Okay what is our society kind of fearful of? What kind of things can you tap into?' And we thought genetic paranoia. People don't trust their food. They don't trust what's happening to them. So the whole line shifts more towards genetic paranoia than nuclear paranoia. Even in SPIDER-MAN, it's not an irradiated spider, it's a genetically altered spider."
Bendis promises to get deep into the history and show how characters came to be and just how far back some are connected. "I think what will delight people and maybe shock them and maybe make them want to slap me very hard is how they knew each other in the past," says Bendis. "There's been some relationships between some characters that have gone on a very long time. And it's shifted over time. That's what you're going to see. I think people will be surprised by where Norman Osborn
and Wilson Fisk fit into the story in days earlier than Peter Parker's days. Norman and Wilson weren't born the day Spider-Man was born. They were already middle aged and done a lot of damage, so we're going to see what that damage is on top of everything else. And who knows who, who did favors for who and who betrayed who.
"And this story will be taking place in modern times and throughout different parts of modern history, from World War II on up," Bendis reveals. "We will see all of these things. Where Wolverine came from, where Nick Fury came from, where the Hulk
came from, where Captain America came from, how they connect and the connecting characters that connect these characters that they don't even know about. And with that will be a lot of things we have never shown the public. And some things we've only hinted at that will be elaborated on. I think the true story of Nick Fury will be very delightful for people. I think that will be the big 'WHAT?!' As he is in all of the books now. In ULTIMATE ORIGINS, he is the connective thread that holds a lot of things together. But how far back that thread goes and when that thread started will be the surprise for people, I think. And for those who miss Captain America, here's one that's alive so that's exciting."
Bendis says this is the right time for the origins of the Ultimate Universe to be revealed because it will impact some of what is on the horizon. "It was almost happening a couple of times, and then the 'Gah Lak Tus Trilogy' was going on," says Bendis "The Ultimate line of books only does like four books a year. We never push it. We only do four books and maybe a special. So two years ago was the 'Gah Lak Tus Trilogy,' then we started ULTIMATE POWER, and so there wasn't really any room for it.
"The cool thing is, and the reason it really took its place on the schedule like this, is that while we were planning the future of the Ultimate Universe there is one story that Jeph Loeb is going to be doing later on, not soon after ORIGIN is finished, that connects directly to information you're going to get from ULTIMATE ORIGINS. So it's the first time we were like 'we really need to tell this story so Jeph can tell his story.' It will immediately interact with stories that are told, particularly X-MEN-related stories and ULTIMATES-related stories."
Bendis has lined up a great creative team for the titanic undertaking of telling the origins of the Ultimate Universe. "It's drawn by Butch Guice who is someone I've loved for decades, and people will see his work in IRON MAN coming up and it's amazing," says Bendis. "It's definitely in Brian Hitch territory. And the colors are by Simone Bianchi."
Since the fans have grown to love the Ultimate line nearly as much as the regular Marvel Universe, Bendis promises to try his best not to disappoint those fans that have made the Ultimate line such a huge success. "When we started, people assumed the worst and were pleasantly surprised that we weren't sucky," laughs Bendis. "And now, a few years later, there's definitely a different tone to it. It isn't just enough not to suck, you better deliver. This is supposed to be the gold standard. You better be awesome, so we take that pretty seriously.
"I'll tell you what the good timing of this is, at the same time ULTIMATE ORIGINS is coming out, ULTIMATE POWER, which has got a great ending, is going to reveal itself. And Stuart Immonen is taking over ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, Jeph Loeb is taking over THE ULTIMATES. It's all happening within a few months. So it's really a Renaissance for the line in the right way, I think."
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