By Tim Stevens
Coming this February, the man who destroyed the Ultimate Universe might just be the one to save it from the apocalypse.
With an assist from artist Frank Cho, writer Jeph Loeb returns, to the Earth he ripped asunder in Ultimatum with NEW ULTIMATES #1, just in time to find the planet in jeopardy once more and he could not be more thrilled.
"This book will have a bit more fun in it," Loeb says, comparing it to ULTIMATES 3 and Ultimatum. "Frank Cho and I have a fresh start. It's a great cast with a very exciting entry point for the series."
Loeb quickly points out that his collaborator should be the one readers really get excited for.
"The real superstar of the book is Frank Cho, the writer argues. "His illustrations are nothing short of astonishing. Anybody who has seen that giant six-part New Ultimates against the hordes of Asgard [spread] will see that this is something very special."
Editor Sana Amanat reassures that fans will be thrilled with both creators though.
"They're both geniuses in their own right and it's great to see what happens when they come together," she says. "Their collective vision of where they want to take the Ultimate Universe is pretty inspiring. They're not just making comics, they're shaping new worlds."
A bit more fun for Loeb, Cho, and Amanat, however, should not be interpreted as an easy time for the citizens of the Ultimate Universe.
"It's a dark time," Loeb reveals. "The New Ultimates are now the only super hero team in the Ultimate Universe. The Fantastic Four has disbanded. There are no more X-Men. And the Ultimate Avengers are more a rotating group of covert black ops. If the world needs saving, the New Ultimates are the first line of defense.
"This is a world that needs to heal," the writer continues. "But, while that is going on from a very real emotional place, 'evil' can seize the opportunity."
That evil comes in the form of Thor's wayward brother. With the Norse hero still missing in the wake of Ultimatum, Loki assumes the God of Thunder dead and decides to take advantage of his absence. The God of Mischief's attack places the world on the precipice of Armageddon.
"Without Thor, who can protect the Earth from all of Asgard unleashed?" Loeb forebodingly asks.
The collection of heroes dubbed the New Ultimates stand as the only likely saviors of the planet. Interpersonal squabbles, however, may derail them before they even get a chance to act the part.
"NEW ULTIMATES in many ways speaks to the starting over in the aftermath of Ultimatum," the writer explains. "In ULTIMATES 3-which I had worked out with [Ultimates co-creator] Mark Millar of the end of [ULTIMATES 2]-Tony Stark took the Ultimates out from the Government and paid for it himself. Now Tony can't afford to do that so now they are back under the control of S.H.I.E.L.D. This puts him in particular in direct conflict with Colonel Carol Danvers who is the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Fortunately for Earth, there may be another hope, in the form of Thor's lover, Valkyrie. Loeb warns, however, that mystery surrounds Valkyrie.
"I'd keep my eye on Valkyrie," he urges. "Mark Millar created her as a simple, horny 19 year-old who had no powers. She showed up in ULTIMATES 3 at the level of a Goddess. How did that happen and more importantly, why?"
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