Hey Joe -
I'm a life-long Marvel fan and I have really enjoyed the overwhelming majority of the comics coming out of the House of Ideas under your watch. There's a lot of top talent producing amazing comics under the Marvel banner right now and it's a great time to be a True Believer. The unfortunate side effect of this overall high level of quality is that the misfires are all the more noticeable. The question I'd like to ask concerns how you and Marvel adjust when a high-stakes story falls flat.
Sorry to say it, but Ultimatum was absolutely awful. Screechingly, gratuitously, I-want-my-money-back, objectively awful. Fan reaction seems almost universally negative, confused and viscerally disgusted. David Finch's art was excellent, but Jeph Loeb managed to get almost everything wrong with Ultimatum, from characterization to dialog to internal story logic. Most readers seem to regard the series as a cheap, clumsy shock-fest that accomplished very little, aside from mowing down interesting characters in service of an Ultimate line relaunch. This isn't like OMD, where people where reacting to controversy - this is like the Spider-Clone, where people are reacting to unmitigated terribileness.
How do you, as EiC, and your editorial cohorts plan to respond to and adjust from the creative failure that Ultimatum turned out to be? While I realize that it's possible to invoke the "Michael Bay defense" (good sales = good story, regardless of criticisms) in response to Ultimatum's reception, that really only applies in the short term. Ultimatum may have sold well for now, but it also succeeded in putting many readers (myself included) off of Jeph Loeb's Marvel comics and made them very, very wary about continuing to purchase Ultimate line comics. Ultimatum was meant to lay the groundwork for the next phase of the Ultimate line, and reader opinion of Ultimatum is overwhelmingly negative. What now? How do you move forward with these stories when their bedrock is so reviled? What is your response to the groudswell of disgust and skepticism that Ultimatum has generated?