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SBTU: Gold – What If…The Ultraverse had Continued?


sbtu_wi_goldWelcome once again to Super-Blog Team-Up! This is a blog ‘event’ where numerous blogs team up to present posts together on a particular theme or prompt, but done so in the individual blog or podcast’s own style, topic, and so on. For general such content, check out the Twitter hashtag #SBTU!

Whether you stick around for my topic or want to see what else there is–there should be a section of links at the bottom with links to the other SBTU posts this week, and you can follow any of those to a number of other high-quality blogs and podcasts!

This time around, the group topic/theme is split…with several looking at particular Creators, while others are asking the question "What If…?"

After juggling several ideas, I decided to look at the notion of an alternate reality in which the Ultraverse had continued.


The Ultraverse was an imprint of Malibu Comics, launched in 1993. It was a new superhero universe, and for 12-year-old me was quite the exciting thing. I’d juuuuuust missed the launch of Image Comics. And at age 12, I was certainly far too young to have been around for any of the launches/relaunches of what came to be the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe. While there were a number of other new comics universes popping up in the early/mid-’90s (or gaining notoriety), the one that really grabbed ME was Malibu‘s Ultraverse.

The line launched with 3 titles: Prime, Hardcase, and The Strangers. One of the "side elements" that had grabbed me was a promotional "Ultraverse #0" comic you could "only" get via a mail-away offer once you’d collected specific "coupons." There was one coupon each in those 3 launch-titles, another in Malibu Sun (a house previews publication) and I believe the fifth/final coupon was in an issue of Wizard. By tracking down and purchasing all five publications, mailing your coupon and a check in, you’d get the exclusive #0-issue. A good sort of promotion at the time; though I don’t believe the first such promotion. It played into collectability, exclusivity, as well as "encouraging" one to buy more than they might otherwise. (And in 2020 I find it quite tame compared to many modern marketing things).

ultraverse_future_shock_01_feb_97Over subsequent months, the initial 3 series continued, while new 1-2 new titles premiered in most of the subsequent 7 months or so. In mid-1994, Ultraforce teamed up several of the characters like Prime, Hardcase, and Prototype as a new official team (in addition to the Strangers, Freex, and The Solution). In 1995, the Godwheel event series brought Thor and Loki into the Ultraverse; Loki remained for awhile. Shortly after, Rune crossed into the Marvel universe, where he stole the Infinity Gems from the Infinity Watch. The Gems were then lost into the Ultraverse for a few months. Eventually they were re-assembled, Ultraforce faced the Avengers, and reality was changed. "Black September" saw several titles get #Infinity issues and then begin with new #1s. These dropped off after a few issues leaving Prime and Ultraforce; and when those ended, February 1997 saw one last publication in Ultraverse Future Shock.

mantra_0001While I’d jumped on immediately with the Ultraverse, my following the titles was a bit spotty; and overall, the primary titles I wound up more or less catching up with/keeping up with were Prime, Mantra, and Rune. I sampled other titles over time and was aware of the various books, but at the time I couldn’t begin to collect everything. In the years since, I’ve gone back and to the best of my knowledge, managed to collect every single story-issue for the Ultraverse, minus ashcans, promotional/preview things, and a Sega CD Prime comic.

All this is a rather too-brief bit covering my experiences with the Ultraverse…but I felt a bit of background was appropriate, as to my approaching the topic. I was a fan at the very beginning of the Ultraverse, followed to varying degrees through its run including Black September and beyond; and have since gone back and acquired all the issues I missed originally.

And preparing for this round of SBTU was not the first time I’ve "crunched the numbers" and considered the fact that–had the Ultraverse continued uninterrupted–it COULD have titles in the 300 range in present-day.


Disclaimer: All details/info about anything ULTRAVERSE after February 1997 IS MY WORK OF FICTION and wishful thinking. What I present below is one instance of what I could imagine COULD have been, and is part of MY answering the question of "What if the Ultraverse had continued?" It is in no way based in any sort of fact, rumor, inside information, anecdote, creator interviews, etc. whatsoever and should not be taken as such.


What if the Ultraverse had continued?

So, in SOME alternate/parallel universe out there, the Ultraverse continued. In that world, behind the scenes a deal was struck that saw the Ultraverse properties sold off from Marvel, with a new company/publisher created. Going with the branding, it became simply "Ultraverse Comics." Said deal worked out such that June 1997–the fourth anniversary of the original Ultraverse launch from Malibu–saw the re-launch of the Ultraverse as a publisher and a comics universe.

Prime, Mantra, Nightman, and Ultraforce headline this relaunch. All-new #1s, incorporating prior continuity while taking some things in new directions. Double-sized first issues with detailed Marvel XXXXXX Saga styled recaps of prior relevant details, so the titles were grounded in continuity but any new reader would have all the relevant info drawn from before.

In addition and a bit ahead of the times, this alternate-reality Ultraverse was determined not to mess with numbering. Its universe was on its THIRD iteration, its SECOND relaunch/renumbering, and would not sacrifice its numbering again. As the years wore on it would result in the Ultraverse having–next to Image‘s Spawn and Savage Dragon–a body of titles with the highest numbering in North American-published comics.

In this alternate reality, the Ultraverse would have loads of crossovers with other publishers, with numerous mini-series featuring said crossovers. Seeding events from early 2004 to Fall 2005, a Crisis on Infinite Earths type event took shape, led by the Ultraverse titles. Only instead of Infinite Earths it was Numerous Publishers. Various threads begun by Thanos accessing the Ultraverse in 2004 would lead to titles across Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Ultraverse, and others showing signs of something much larger going on that would bring things to ahead affecting all participating universes. (Think a mix of COIE, Zero Hour, the 2003+ run up to Infinite Crisis, etc.)

Culminating for the Ultraverse in September 2005 with Ultraforce #100, a new reality was created, and all regular Ultraverse titles went on hiatus for six months. In place of those titles, a weekly Ultrasupes book premiered that ran for 25 weekly issues, detailing the Ultraverse‘s participation in the huge, new reality made up of a mixture of all participating publishers’ characters. Such an effort involving so many publishers and properties from mainstream publishers was a feat not to be repeated, though it would be referenced in continuity for many years to follow.

Flashing forward 14-some years to December 2020, the Ultraverse would celebrate four titles hitting their 275th issues; numbers second only to Todd McFarlane‘s SPAWN which had put out its 300th issue the year before.

It would be absolutely foolhardy for me to try to envision every last issue (and in detail) published across 23 years in a single post, so I won’t even try. Instead, I will present a year-by-year sampling of issues published by this reality’s Ultraverse, beginning with its June 1997 premiere and concluding with December 2020.


Once again: All details/info about ULTRAVERSE comics after February 1997 IS MY WORK OF FICTION. Sit back and enjoy a textual/conceptual glimpse into 20+ years of Potential History That Never Was.


June, 1997

  • Prime #1
  • Mantra #1
  • Night Man #1
  • Ultraforce #1

June, 1998

  • Prime #13
  • Hardcase #11
  • Strangers #12
  • Mantra #13
  • Freex #12
  • Prototype #10
  • Firearm #9
  • Solution #11
  • Night Man #13
  • Solitaire #4
  • Wrath #8
  • Warstrike #6
  • Ultraforce #13
  • Strangers vs. Stormwatch #6

June, 1999

  • Prime #24
  • Hardcase #23
  • Strangers #24
  • Mantra #24
  • Freex #24
  • Firearm #21
  • Solution #23
  • Night Man #25
  • Solitaire #16
  • Wrath #20
  • Warstrike #18
  • Ultraforce #25
  • Exiles vs. Exiles #4

June, 2000

  • Prime #36
  • Hardcase #34
  • Strangers #36
  • Mantra #36
  • Freex #36
  • Prototype #17
  • Firearm #33
  • Solution #35
  • Night Man #37
  • Ultraforce #37
  • Strangers vs. Wildcats #1

June, 2001

  • Prime #47
  • Strangers #48
  • Mantra #48
  • Freex #48
  • Solution #47
  • Night Man #49
  • Wrath #28
  • Warstrike #23
  • Ultraforce #49
  • Prototype vs. Darkhawk #4

June, 2002

  • Prime #59
  • Hardcase #44
  • Strangers #60
  • Mantra #59
  • Prototype #35
  • Night Man #61
  • Sludge #17
  • Solitaire #28
  • Ultraforce #61
  • Siren #13
  • Freex vs. Azrael #3
  • Firearm vs. Spawn #3

June, 2003

  • Prime #70
  • Hardcase #56
  • Strangers #72
  • Mantra #71
  • Prototype #44
  • Firearm #49
  • Night Man #73
  • Solitaire #40
  • Ultraforce #73
  • Prime vs. Deadpool #1
  • Solution vs. GI Joe #5

June, 2004

  • Prime #82
  • Strangers #84
  • Mantra #83
  • Freex #59
  • Night Man #85
  • Solitaire #52
  • Warstrike #41
  • Ultraforce #85
  • Solution vs. Thunderbolts #2
  • Strangers vs. Ghost #2

June, 2005

  • Prime #94
  • Strangers #96
  • Mantra #94
  • Freex #71
  • Solitaire #64
  • Ultraforce #97
  • Prime vs. Justice League #3
  • Prototype vs. Iron Man #1
  • Ultraforce vs. Avengers II #2

June, 2006

  • Prime #100
  • Strangers #102
  • Mantra #101
  • Freex #77
  • Solitaire #70
  • Ultraforce #103
  • Solitaire vs. X #1
  • Prime vs. Justice League #9

June, 2007

  • Prime #113
  • Hardcase #71
  • Strangers #114
  • Mantra #113
  • Freex #89
  • Solution #64
  • Night Man #99
  • Ultraforce #116
  • Ultraforce vs. X-Men #1
  • Prime/Spider-Man #7

June, 2008

  • Prime #123
  • Hardcase #83
  • Strangers #126
  • Mantra #125
  • Freex #101
  • Firearm #66
  • Night Man #111
  • Wrath #48
  • Ultraforce #128
  • Solitaire vs. Predator #6

June, 2009

  • Prime #136
  • Hardcase #94
  • Strangers #138
  • Mantra #135
  • Freex #113
  • Firearm #78
  • Night Man #123
  • Ultraforce #140
  • Siren #27

June, 2010

  • Prime #148
  • Strangers #150
  • Mantra #147
  • Night Man #135
  • Rune #25
  • Ultraforce #152
  • Mantra vs. Dr. Strange #6
  • Firearm/GI Joe #1
  • Night Man vs. Batman #1

June, 2011

  • Prime #159
  • Hardcase #110
  • Strangers #162
  • Mantra #159
  • Firearm #82
  • Night Man #147
  • Ultraforce #164
  • Freex vs. New Mutants #6

June, 2012

  • Prime #171
  • Hardcase #122
  • Strangers #174
  • Mantra #172
  • Freex #129
  • Prototype #73
  • Firearm #94
  • Solution #79
  • Warstrike #55
  • Ultraforce #176
  • Ultraforce vs. The Authority #5
  • Prime vs. Shazam #2
  • Night Man vs. Aliens #2

June, 2013

  • Prime #183
  • Strangers #186
  • Mantra #185 & # 186
  • Freex #141
  • Solution #91
  • Ultraforce #188
  • Mantra vs. Captain Marvel #5
  • Firearm vs. Batman #3

June, 2014

  • Prime #196
  • Hardcase #132
  • Strangers #198
  • Mantra #197
  • Freex #153
  • Prototype #76
  • Firearm #105
  • Night Man #163
  • Solitaire #91
  • Ultraforce #200
  • Firearm/GI Joe II #6
  • Strangers vs. Justice League #1

June, 2015

  • Prime #208
  • Hardcase #144
  • Strangers #211
  • Mantra #209
  • Prototype #88
  • Firearm #110
  • Night Man #175
  • Solitaire #103
  • Wrath #60
  • Freex vs. Teen Titans #2
  • Freex vs. Spawn #2

June, 2016

  • Prime #221
  • Strangers #223
  • Mantra #221
  • Freex #168
  • Night Man #187
  • Solitaire #113
  • Warstrike #67
  • Ultraforce #221
  • Siren #40
  • Firearm/GI Joe III #6
  • Strangers vs. Prometheus #3
  • Ultraforce vs. JLA #4

June, 2017

  • Prime #233
  • Strangers #235
  • Mantra #233
  • Freex #180
  • Firearm #121
  • Night Man #199
  • Sludge #38
  • Solitaire #125
  • Ultraforce #233
  • Strangers/Thunderbolts #3

June, 2018

  • Prime #245
  • Hardcase #161
  • Strangers #247
  • Mantra #245
  • Freex #192
  • Rune #38
  • Ultraforce #245
  • Siren #43
  • Night Man vs. Midnighter #4
  • Strangers vs. X-Men #4

June, 2019

  • Prime #257
  • Strangers #259
  • Mantra #257
  • Solution #98
  • Solitaire #138
  • Ultraforce #257

June, 2020

  • Prime #269
  • Hardcase #177
  • Strangers #270
  • Mantra #269
  • Prototype #109
  • Sludge #59
  • Solitaire #150
  • Wrath #64
  • Ultraforce #269

December, 2020

  • Prime #275
  • Hardcase #183
  • Strangers #275
  • Mantra #275
  • Freex #200
  • Prototype #115
  • Solitaire #156
  • Rune #51
  • Ultraforce #275
  • Siren #53


I absolutely ran out of time to even BEGIN to do all the pretty covers and such I’d envisioned when settling on this topic. Logos and trade dress and the like across various titles. However, in mapping out this fictional, parallel-universe Ultraverse line, I have plenty of fodder for future posts, and to come back to this topic with those covers and such. Especially for the big/round number issues…the 50s, 100s, and so on.

But…

Returning to real-world present-day Earth in 2020:

It’s been 27 1/2 years since the premiere of the actual Ultraverse.

Had Prime, Hardcase, or Strangers proceeded 1 issue per month for all this time, uninterrupted, we’d actually see them at #300+ each.

At 27 1/2 years old, the Ultraverse would be as old now as the Marvel Universe was around 1989 (counting from 1961/62).

Consider how deep and aged Marvel continuity and titles were in the early-1990s, and the Ultraverse would be approaching a similar point!

Remember the 30th anniversary of the Fantastic Four?

What about the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man?

I myself consciously recall the 30th anniversary of X-Men in their Fatal Attractions crossover.

In a modern age of comics where continuity matters little and comics’ numbering is a joke, where variant covers seem to drive the industry and even DC Comics seems to be backing away from emphasis on monthly comics…it’s interesting enough to me to consider what a different world it would be with an Ultraverse still producing new content.

What might the industry look like had it continued? What creators would have continued or built careers there rather than other publishers? What characters and stories might we have gotten as a result…or NOT gotten, as the case might be?

And what of all the gimmicks that we saw with the original Ultraverse?

ultraverse_premiere_0000The primary "gimmicks" I think of with the original Ultraverse is the initial coupons thing for Ultraverse Premiere #0, the full-cover hologram covers for several titles, and the frequency of a #0 issue being what a #1 should have been. Occasional variant covers–the one that most stands out to me in memory is Prime #4 which had a fight between Prime and Prototype…one cover shows Prime victorious while the other shows Prototype victorious.

During the Black September stuff, the #"Infinity" issues sported bright neon-colored logos on all-black covers. There was an image on the back cover, though. Alternate covers provided the logo and trade dress on the image. Whichever "variant" you got, you still got to see the image to associate with the issue. With the #1 issues the next month, variants’ variance was more subtle, with covers carrying a painted look or a standard look.

sbtu_chromium_eraofexcess_hologram_04

But even with a wealth of stuff like this…it was a FARRRRR cry from every single title from every single publisher carrying at minimum "A" and "B" covers, let alone "retailer incentive" covers or "theme month" covers and all that.

I suppose that gets into other topics, though.

As 2020 has itself been a far cry from what I’d planned…perhaps this very post will get me back into gear actually covering the original Ultraverse. I had a good burst a couple years ago with my Ultraverse Revisited run, and DO aim to pick that back up in the near future, real-life-permitting (though I’ve said that since leaving off in 2018!)

ultraverse_revisited

As an abrupt conclusion jumping off from the Ultraverse but holding to the "What If" theme: back in 2016, I did a post looking at the question What If Superman #75 had come out in 2016? Basically, showing off dozens of mocked-up cover images I did to represent the ridiculousness of modern variant covers that totally dilute the market and make any given cover rather generic and unrecognizable.


Super-Blog Team-Up Continues Below!

  

Between The Pages Blog – Scrooge McDuckTales Woo-oo!

Dave’s Comics Blog – Blue Devil Creation

Magazines and Monsters – Comic Book’s Unsung Heroes! Steve Gerber!

In My Not So Humble Opinion – Kurt Schaffenberger, The Definitive Lois Lane Artist of the Silver Age

Comics Comics Comics… – Sergio Argones

SuperHero Satellite – What If Peter Parker became Speedball instead of Spider-Man?

Pop Culture Retrorama – What If The Sinister Dr. Phibes Had Been Produced!

Source Material – What If Captain Confederacy

The Telltale Mind – Arak: Son of Thunder – A Lost Adventure

Comic Reviews by Walt – What if the Ultraverse Had Continued?


 sbtu_what_if_ultraverse_blogtrailer

6 Responses

  1. […] Comic Reviews by Walt – What if the Ultraverse Had Continuedhttps://comicreviewsbywalt.com/2020/12/16/sbtu-gold-what-if-the-ultraverse-had-continued/ […]

  2. Wow Walt, that was excellent. I never got into the Ultraverse myself, but geez, I am sure do wonder now what the comic world would be like if they were still around. Those were some really interesting and thought provoking question.

    I mean what if they were still publishing, and the had creators working for them that didn’t end up at Marvel, DC or Image, such a great question. Could it have been possible that G. Willow Wilson started working for Ultraverse on Hardcase instead of writing Ms Marvel #1? That would be a fascinating discussion all on it’s own.

    Great piece, bravo!

  3. […] Comic Reviews by Walt – What if the Ultraverse Had Continued? […]

  4. Super cool, Walt, I wish Marvel would resolve whatever crap keeps us from getting more Ultraverse comics.

  5. […] Comic Reviews by Walt – What if the Ultraverse Had Continued? […]

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