Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Missing Link: A Nostalgic Look back at a Universe lost...

The year was 1994. A year or so before, the comics industry had been turned on its head by ‘greedy little punks of Image’ or ‘the second coming of comic creativity’, depending on who you asked.

The dominant player in the market, Marvel, was seeing evil shadows in every obscure corner. Smaller publishers were springing up everywhere Marvel bosses looked, but one of Marvel’s eyes was ever aimed in DC’s direction to scope out their fiercest competitor’s next move.

Fear makes even market leaders do strange things and Marvel was no exception. The Marvellous Ones found out that DC had been in negotiations to buy the Ultraverse line of superhero comics (originally started around 1993 by Malibu Comics). So, in a move motivated by the threat a combined Ultraverse-DCU would represent, Marvel scooped up the Ultraverse.

For those who don’t the Ultraverse from a bar of soap, their most recognizable character was Prime.
I'm number one 

Some of you may also remember a Nightman television series, which was pretty dodgy. Well, his comic book incarnation (created by Steve Englehart) was a lot better that the minimal budget version from tv-land.

There was even a short-lived animated series based on their flagship superhero team, Ultra-Force.

Better yet, the Ultraverse created their own unique four-hero team called The Solution that was quite far removed from the Fantastic Four. Their members included Tech (their leader), Dropkick, Shadowmage, and Outrage. See, really different from Stretcho and co. It can be done.

There was also Strangers, a team or group whose premise and origin is strikingly similar to a recent hit tv show as this post explicitly suggests. It also gives us insight into why these heroes haven't graced any comic pages again.

Anyhoo, when Marvel took over, they arranged crossovers and new titles (including a new Marvelized version of Exiles).

Key to doing the REVAMPED titles was filling the Ultraverse with Marvel hero expatriates for some reason. In fact, they went really overboard in a lot of instances.

Of course, they hadn’t anticipated the collapse of the funny-book market around 1995. In typical Marvel fashion, a decision was made to euthanize the Ultraverse (even though sales were reasonable).

A while back, I came across this post, which REALLY mirrors my experiences with and sentiments about the Ultraverse. Of course, I lost the link some time ago, but now I've rediscovered it. It’s a bit of fanboy nostalgia about a universe gone too soon.

Of course, the the fact that Mickey Mouse and the gang have taken over Marvel, has some people wondering if we'll see the Ultraverse again.

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