By Kiel Phegley
Proving that fans can still expect the unexpected when it comes to the Ultimate Universe, Brian Michael Bendis will drop a pair of Ultimate Spidey bombs with the return of Gwen Stacy and a third ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL that takes the teen super hero drama into the rocky real world waters of adult relationships.
Starting off by talking about upcoming events in the regular title and the "War of the Symbiotes" storyline which kicked off this week in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #123, Bendis reminds readers, "It takes parts of the Ultimate Spider-Man video game which I wrote with Brian Reed and places it into Ultimate Marvel continuity, and just in time for "Ultimatum," too. So I'm really glad we get to do that. We get to flash back to some Ultimate Nick Fury and some ULTIMATES 2 Ultimates and have a lot of fun with Silver Sable and the Beetle.
"It's also the return of Gwen Stacy, which I'm really excited about," the writer adds. But when asked how the dead friend of Peter Parker could make an appearance when her last one centered on a fake out clone Gwen, Bendis simply asks, "What's a clone, and what's not a clone? This is the question. If it looks like Gwen Stacy and smells like Gwen Stacy, is it Gwen Stacy? This is what we talk about."
Perhaps even more surprising news comes in the form of the topic for ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #3 which will take a taste of the acclaimed issue #13 of the series where Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson talked about their feelings for one another in light of his dual identity but add the controversial topic of their potential sexual relationship to the mix.
"This was a very hard book to get green lit," admits Bendis. "This was a tough one because the subject matter has never been dealt with in a Spider-Man book before. It deals with the responsibilities of Peter and MJ's mature teenage relationship and what that entails and decisions made as they get closer.
"I'm assuming it'll be a little controversial because any time you talk about stuff like that, people get a little weirded out. But truthfully, they're of that age. You open up the paper and there [are] girls who have a pregnancy pact. There's stuff going on. For us to be honest, we should reflect that."
One element to the Annual Bendis expects a uniformly positive response to: the art by PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT penciler David Lafuente Garcia.
"When people get a load of his stuff, they're going to be really blown away by him," the writer promises. "He's really something-a real illustrator."
And when asked if the husband and wife team of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN penciler Stuart Immonen and HELLCAT writer Kathryn Immonen brought Garcia's work to Bendis' eye, the writer cops, "His name got brought up because the Immonens were like, 'This guy's fantastic!' So I gleefully stole him."
Last but not least on the tour of Ultimate Spidey tidbits, Bendis reaffirmed his long term plans would tie directly in to Jeph Loeb's upcoming Ultimate Universe redefining series "Ultimatum."
"With the issue after 'War of the Symbiotes,' Spider-Man and the gang will be getting directly involved with 'Ultimatum,'" Bendis vows. "We know exactly when 'Ultimatum' is hitting, and Spider-Man's relationship to that event is very clearly defined in the series itself, and that will be dealt with directly. And I'm happy that this is the first time we've been able to directly relate what's happening in another book in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN while it's happening."
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