News : 2003 : Ultimate Spidey, 100 or Bust!

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Mark Bagley was recently in New Zealand for "Armageddon", our local pop-culture expo. I managed to trap the poor guy behind his signing desk, so he had nowhere to go while I desperately tried to impress the poor chap with tales of our exploits at SpiderFan. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting the guy in person, I gotta state for the record that Bagley is one of the nicest damn people you could ever wish to meet!

As well as signing, he was also doing sketches by request. He was more than happy to shoot the breeze as he worked up a jaw-dropping Black Cat (a canny choice by my young daughter). Of course, he first asked if we wanted the upcoming "Ultimate Black Cat", and though we went for the regular version, it sure underlined the fact that we're bound to be seeing Felicia in the Ultimate title before too much longer.

Mark was full of kind words for his pal Bendis. When I mused if Ultimate SM could survive "Beyond Bendis", he pointed out the announcement which was made at Chicago-Con, that he and Bendis made a "pinky-shake" agreement that they would both stick together on Ultimate until at least issue 100. Of course, news like that does no harm whatsoever for sales. It's a pretty well-established fact that uncertainty on a title's future can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let's hope the reverse is also true!

I also asked him to sign a few Ultimates, and ASM Annual #22 (his first Spidey work). While doing so, we somehow got to talking about new continity, and the origins of Ultimate. Maybe this is old news, but Bagley did say that he turned down the Ultimate project three times before finally agreeing to take it on. Being completely unfamiliar with Bendis' work, and having seen previous attempts at "re-inventing Spidey" fall dead flat, he was far from keen to be involved! Of course, in the end he relented, and the rest is (re-written) history!

Did I mention the kick-ass Black Cat? Man, there's no doubt about it, but that boy can draw!