Al Ewing helps to illuminate the history of The High Evolutionary!

The High Evolutionary loves change.

That’s an important factoid to know as you head into ULTIMATES 2 #9, out July 19, because when the Evolutionary teams up with The Maker, another guy who loves change, well, nothing will ever be the same again.

Now, you might be saying, “Who’s this High Evolutionary? Why’s he so big on changing everything? What’s he gonna change?” Those would be good questions, because he’s one of the universe’s most enigmatic figures, neither truly a good guy of a bad guy—although the Ultimates may disagree on the latter. They’ve got to figure out just what High Evolutionary’s up to as he puts his latest scheme to advance evolution into play.

Luckily, the team—and you!—have writer Al Ewing on their—your!—side to help everybody figure it out by offering up a few more factoids, and maybe even a few hits about the upcoming Eternity War in ULTIMATES 2.

Dude’s Name is Herbert

“Taking a look at the High Evolutionary, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he was some kind of human-sized Celestial, or at the very least an alien being,” Ewing notes. “But underneath all that weird pink/purple armor is a real live actual human named Herbert Wyndham who studied genetics under Nathaniel Essex—the man who became the X-Baddie Mister Sinister—and worked extensively with Spider-Woman’s father, Jonathan Drew. In fact, his armor is purely practical—to protect against werewolf attacks.”

Army of Half-Animal Servants? Check

“Herbert knows all about werewolves, as well as other human/animal hybrids, because he makes them in his various secret laboratories and rules over them like a god,” says the writer. “The High Evolutionary’s semi-animal subjects are known as the New Men, and they’re actually super-evolved animals who once helped him battle the demonic entity Cthon, and in the process released the arcane energies that merged with psychic soldier Emmett Proudhawk to become the Psi-Force.”

Ultimates 2 #9 cover by Christian Ward

Send his Christmas Cards to Counter-Earth, a Duplicate Earth He Built Himself

“Stuff like that meant that eventually Herbert was persona non grata on ordinary Earth—so he created Counter-Earth, a second duplicate Earth orbiting on the other side of the sun, forever hidden from the ‘true’ Earth,” explains Ewing. “How did he do it? By ‘evolving’ a small chunk of terrestrial material. The High Evolutionary has some interesting ideas about what ‘evolution’ involves.”

He Has Some Very Interesting Ideas about What Evolution Involves

“As we’ve seen, he’s evolved animals into humanoid forms—usually still with the heads of the original animals,” insists the writer. “He’s evolved a bit of rock into a full-scale replica Earth. He’s even experimented on himself. Scientifically minded readers might have noticed that his idea of ‘evolution’ owes a lot to Intelligent Design—his intelligence in particular—and he doesn’t limit himself to things that are capable of evolving. So what would happen if he was convinced to ‘evolve’ an entire multiverse? And would we survive?”

Suffers from Popular Super Villain Malady

“What makes Herbert spectacularly dangerous is that he believes he’s firmly in the right,” Ewing concludes. “No matter what mad scientific scheme he’s up to his pink/purple neck in, he convinces himself it’s for the good of all. That’s bad enough when you’re playing with human or animal life—when you’re playing with the destiny of an entire cosmos, things have the potential to get very bad, very fast…”

Find out how bad how fast in ULTIMATES 2 #9, available July 19 courtesy of Al Ewing and Travel Foreman!

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Al Ewing prepares us for a Galactus vs. Ego grudge match for the ages!

The Planet Eater vs. the Living Planet: a tale as old as time.

In ULTIMATES 2 #8 on June 21, however, that story has been flipped on its ear. No longer a devourer, now a lifebringer, Galactus, nonetheless, must lock horns with Ego. A grudge-carrying, very unhappy Ego.

ULTIMATES 2 writer Al Ewing called us from the outer reaches of the galaxy to tell us what the titanic intergalactic struggle could mean for the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: Galactus v. Ego certainly makes a lot of on the face sense but it isn’t just about the World Devourer v. the Living Planet. How deep does their antagonism run?

Al Ewing: They’ve hurt each other. Galactus, in particular, bolted a sidereal engine to Eternity—digging it into his living flesh, probably causing a lot of pollution—and shot him off into the depths of space. That’s not something that Ego finds easy to forgive. They’re almost destined to fight each other, on some level, like you say; it’s the planet-eater versus the living planet. They’re natural enemies, like the cobra and the mongoose.

Except Galactus isn’t a planet-eater any longer.

Marvel.com: Galactus has gone through a lot of changes as of late. How, if at all, does that change the dynamics of this struggle?

Al Ewing: It’s going to have to. If Galactus can’t consume Ego—and presumably he’s got an ethical objection to just blowing him up, given his new catchphrase of “Everything Lives”—we’re left with a very one-sided fight. Which is bad, since Galactus might be the only thing standing between the Marvel Multiverse and the First Firmament, an ancient evil sentient cosmos looking for revenge against Eternity just for existing.

Ultimates 2 #8 cover by Christian Ward

Marvel.com: Artist Aud Koch is relatively new to the book. When you get into depictions of cosmic conflicts, there is a lot of chance to just really dig into some exciting visuals. What has Koch brought to the book? How does her art showcase your approach to the story?

Al Ewing: Aud’s been one of my favorite artists to work with. She’s got a unique style in terms of comics, something reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley, allowing for some much more intense emotional beats.

She’s also not afraid to break up panels, set her own pacing, and make suggestions. [Regular ULTIMATES 2 artist] Travel [Foreman] does that as well, and it really helps take the book into that collaborative space where it’s unique to the team. I hope ULTIMATES 2 readers enjoy the art on these two issues as much as I enjoyed watching it come in—see if you can guess which page of #8 I’ve got up on my wall.

Marvel.com: Where do the Ultimates figure into a battle of this huge a cosmic scope?

Al Ewing: Issue #8 is a solo issue for Galactus, before we bring the team back to fight the Eternity War at long last. So he’s on his own and, as readers will have seen in issue #7, he’s not in peak condition. He’s still recovering from his treatment at the hands of Logos and the First Firmament, so it’s entirely possible Ego—who’s more powerful than ever—could take him down for good.

Marvel.com: Speaking of scope, what could be the fallout/consequences of these two facing off once again?

Al Ewing: Well, there’s everything to play for; Galactus is building forces for a war for reality itself, and if he can get Ego on board, that’s going to be a big win for him. Alternatively, if Ego bows out—or worse, joins the other side—Galactus is in serious trouble. I will say that whatever happens, readers will exit this issue very excited for the next one. The Eternity War is on, and things are ramping up at an astonishing rate.

Join the cosmic conflict with ULTIMATES 2 #8, coming your way from Al Ewing and Aud Koch on June 21!

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Writer Al Ewing reveals his team’s new antagonists, the Troubleshooters!

The Ultimates cannot do what they do without gaining the attention of others. As seen way back in ULTIMATES #12, some of those people have command of a pretty powerful team of individuals, the Troubleshooters.

When we found ULTIMATES 2 writer Al Ewing, he proved nice enough to tell us all about the ‘Shooters, including their counterparts from a New Universe gone by.

Who are the Troubleshooters?

“When the world’s ultimate super team was working in concert with the government, their cosmic-scale activities were tolerated; now the thought of what they could do is making the NSA very nervous indeed,” Ewing reveals. “Their solution? Send in the Troubleshooters, a group of ‘psychic soldiers’ tasked with monitoring high-powered super-teams and dealing with any potential issues. They’ve already engaged the Ultimates in combat, but how much of a threat are they against the people who took down Thanos?”

Jim Tensen (New Universe counterpart: John Tensen, aka Justice)

“An ex-member of the mysterious First Eternity Battalion, James Tensen is the world’s foremost expert on the Psi-Force—a quasi-magical psychic energy field that can be manifested in different ways,” recalls the writer. “In Tensen’s case, it takes the form of a ‘sword’—a powerful blast of energy that even Captain Marvel can’t absorb—and a ‘shield’—a force screen that’s as impervious as his subconscious wants it to be.

“While he sees himself as a ‘warrior of Spring’—a personal pop-philosophy he taught in seminars before he was recruited—his work with the Troubleshooters has taken him outside his comfort zone,” Ewing continues. “Can he still call himself a ‘Justice Warrior’ when he’s fighting America Chavez?”

Kathy Ling (New Universe counterpart: Kathy Ling, aka Shockwave and Codename: Spitfire)

“Kathy Ling’s Psi-Force manifests as ‘techno-telekinesis,’ the ability to interface with complex machinery using the power of her mind,” explains the writer. “That makes her the only human on the planet who can pilot the ‘Codename: Spitfire’ psychic-powered armor. It’s already beaten the Black Panther’s Kimoyo system; can it defeat the man underneath?”

Dionne McQuaid (New Universe counterpart: Dionne McQuaid, aka Indigo)

“Dionne McQuaid uses the Psi-Force to turn her emotions into solid purple thought-forms, what she calls her ‘Mood Indigo,’ Ewing says. “She’s cool under pressure, but in combat she can let herself go and manifest massive tentacle monsters growing right out of her psyche, with enough punch to slam even Captain Marvel into the mat.”

Terry Jessup (New Universe counterpart: Tyrone Jessup, aka Voyager)

“A suave ex-SAS member, Jessup—callsign ‘Network’—is perhaps the most connected to the Psi-Force of any of the Troubleshooters,” argues the writer. “That’s because, after a top-secret attempt by a skunkworks facility to duplicate the White Event, he’s been transformed into pure, living thought.

“Without the limits of a physical body, Terry is the ultimate spy; as fleeting as a thought, and able to create psychic constructs in enemy minds that seem as solid as objective reality. By travelling through the collective unconscious, Terry can travel vast distances at faster-than-light speeds—but does that make him faster than Monica Rambeau?”

Simon Rodstvow (New Universe counterpart: Rodstvow of the Medusa Web)

“Simon Rodstvow was the first Troubleshooter recruited by the NSA and the one about whom the least is known,” states the writer. “The only team member not connected in some way to the Psi-Force, Rodstvow gets his powers–a terrifying mastery of cosmic energies, and a portal ability that echoes America’s own–from an unknown source. He’s a thoroughly nasty character, a brutal thug who worships strength above all, but is he even human? The Blue Marvel is maybe the only hero who can stand up to him long enough to find out.”

Philip Nelson Vogt (New Universe counterpart: Philip Nolan Voigt, aka Overshadow)

“The enigmatic ‘Man in the Shadows’ leads the Troubleshooters from his dusty, old-fashioned office,” Ewing describes. “Readers don’t know much about him yet, but I can reveal here that he was also once a First Eternity Battalion member, serving alongside Jim Tensen and he has his own strange connection to the Psi-Force. Unlike his New Universe counterpart, there’s a relatively decent man inside Philip Vogt, but does that mean he has what it takes to face Galactus and live?”

Track the Troubleshooters’ next move in ULTIMATES 2 #5 by Al Ewing and Travel Foreman, out March 22!

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