Editor’s Note: To tie in with the question we posed to readers earlier, we’re giving our very own Marlowe Lewis a chance to slip into the Marvel Editor in Chief chair and have an imagined conversation with Jeph Loeb over the latest issue of Ultimatum #4.
Mr Lewis. Mr. Loeb is on line two.
â€˜Hello Jeph. What happening?â€™
â€˜Hi boss man. I am just calling to get your reaction to the latest issue of my world shattering extravaganza.â€™
â€˜Well Jeph. Thatâ€™s actually a bit spooky, because I was planning to contact you anyway and give you my thoughts on how the whole thing has been going so far.â€™
â€˜Lay it out for me chief. I can take any amount of praise!â€™
â€˜Well you see Jeph, thatâ€™s the thing. I am a bit concerned about the total quality of this book. People are sending me e-mails and some of them compare your current work to what was happening here at Marvel in the nineties. Thatâ€™s not a good thing Joe. What they are saying is that this comic is a mess, and that reflects badly on me Jeph because I got the Editor-in Chiefs job in the first place, on a crusade for renewed merit here at the House of Ideas.â€™
â€˜Youâ€™re kidding, right?Â How can you even say that to me, head honcho? Didnâ€™t the first issue of this book top the sales charts and the ordinary comic reading public are still shelling out $3.99 for each and every fabulous issue. Thatâ€™s a major hit in anybodyâ€™s terms. Iâ€™m shocked that you donâ€™t like this story because I am really pulling out all the stops here. This is high calibre writing at its absolute best.â€™
“Is that right, Jeph? Then perhaps you can explain to me how it is that all the comic writing awards that you have ever won were for stories that you wrote over at D.CÂ Thatâ€™s seems a bit strange to me. Now I am sure Jeph, that you have heard the theory that there are some writers whose style fits more comfortably with a certain comic book publishing company. I am just saying that after this event is over maybe its time you gave Paul Levitz a call and see if they have any free slots available over there for you to fill.
Plus on that sales thing you quoted, it is true that the first issue was box-office boffo but the sales have been dropping for each and every subsequent issue, and thatâ€™s called the law of diminishing returns. I have bosses as well Jeph and sales figures are all they are ever concerned about, especially in these difficult financial times. This mini-series was supposed to be the relaunch vehicle of the entire Ultimate universe, but instead itâ€™s turning into a damp firecracker. I canâ€™t allow that to happen Jeph.â€™
â€˜Oh come on, my omnipotent overseer, the story isnâ€™t over yet. I still have one final issue and I plan to go out with a cosmos crashing big finish. I donâ€™t want to ruin the surprise for you but there are guest appearances from Galactus, the Watcher, the Gamesmaster, the Ancient One, Archie Andrews, Sonic the Hedgehog, President Obama (he really sells comics these days), Rush Limbaugh, the Punisher, Stan Lee dressed as Hugh Hefner, Keith Olbermann and of course theÂ biggest hero of the Ultimate universe, Mr Brian Bendis himself. God, if thatâ€™s not a great closer then I just donâ€™t know how to write an interesting Marvel story, and we both know thatâ€™s not true. Honestly I can do this. I wonâ€™t let you down. I promise.â€™
â€˜All right then Jeph. Letâ€™s see what you come up with but itâ€™s on the final understanding that if you fail to provide me with an ending that is an absolute smash both financially and critically, then you should perhaps start sending your C.V out to the other companies.â€™
I read you loud and clear, my superb superintendent, but that wonâ€™t be necessary. This series will conclude in a manner that will be a credit to the company which you currently head and will also be a shining beacon for other Marvel writers to follow in the future. Bye.â€™
Marlowe sits back in his big easy chair, tosses Ultimatum #4 aside, giving it 2 out of 5 Stars.