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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

The Weekly Haul: Weeks of October 24 & 31, 2018 and Halloween Comicfest

It’s amazing how life gets busy at certain times…and how that can be exacerbated by having the computer one has been primarily using for years suddenly decide to freeze up and then refuse to ever boot up Windows again.

Combined with a couple other things going on, and rather than separate posts, let’s cover "The Weekly Haul" stuff from the past couple weeks AND Halloween Comicfest!


Week of October 24, 2018

weeklyhaul_10242018a

Last week had the foiled edition of Action Comics #1004…and I finally pulled 1001, 1002, and 1003 together and caught up on reading! I have to reiterate how much I’ve liked this low-key "stunt month" that DC did this year, where the foiling did not add to the regular price–$3.99 books stayed $3.99, so it’s purely cosmetic. And as a "stunt month," it’s not like it was all over the place. And the best part is that the fancy covers are the main, primary cover and NOT some variant!

Extra dose of TMNT with the second Macro-Series issue, this one focusing on Michelangelo; and the sixth issue of TMNT: Urban Legends, reprinting the 6th issue of the old Image series!

Then the newest issues of Aliens: Dust to Dust, of Flash, and Die!Die!Die!…where I have some collating and catch-up reading to do!


Week of October 31, 2018

weeklyhaul_10312018a

This week is a "fifth week," and so definitely a bit smaller. DC‘s second issue of Heroes in Crisis hit, apparently a week "late." I was not 100% on picking this up, but especially with being a small week, and I’m now leaning toward "grudgingly" picking it up, if only for morbid curiosity…but perhaps just as much so that I can read it for myself and evaluate it for myself. If I don’t like it, at least I’ll get that for myself. I don’t like it so far, but it feels like it’s got some weird sort of potential. I’m also willing to "support" it with it not having umpteen branded official tie-in chapters (so far), unlike the marvelous competition.

I’m digging the main Batman title of late, having jumped back into current reading with The Gift and the run-up to #50; loved the Freeze story, and just keeping up. As a fifth week, figured what the heck? Been ages since a Secret Files [& Origins] issue, so curiosity (and the foil cover) won me over. Plus…it’s Batman.

And I’m definitely enjoying the True Believers What If..? issues–most of them, I have not read before, so they’re particularly fun for only $1.00, where so many of the True Believers issues are reprints of stuff I do already have and/or have read. This What if…Legion had Killed Magneto? draws from the original Age of Apocalypse stuff from 1995. (And I’d meant to ‘cover’ the issue several years ago when I covered the entirety of that original Age of Apocalypse saga, but never quite got around to it then.)

Finally, snagged some Hordes minis to go with others I’ve bought…I have a good-size selection of these now to assemble, prime, and paint, which could be a way to pass a few weeks coming up or in 2019.


Halloween Comicfest 2018

weeklyhaul_10242018b

While it seemed there were more officially-branded Halloween COmicfest issues than ever this year, many were "mini-comics" or "ashcan-sized," and at least from the covers and being backed up on plenty of other reading and considering last year’s issues and maybe prior years…I opted just to snag these. I wasn’t sure what to make of the Adventures of Aspen Mascots but it looked fun; definitely up for the Hellblazer reprint (especially while DC otherwise doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with the character) for the 30th anniversary. And the completist in me didn’t want to pass on the Rise of the TMNT mini-comic, though I’m not fond of the tv show from the premiere episode.

weeklyhaul_10242018c

As a far, Far, FAR superior value to me than contemporary Marvel #1 issues, for the same price, I snagged both of these issues of the older Captain America series from the 1960s. My grandfather (who helped get me into comics 30 years ago) had at least one of these issues, though I can’t remember which (and pretty sure he didn’t have the other, as I always mixed up the cover images in my memory). So there’s sentimental value in getting these copies if only for that.

weeklyhaul_10242018d

Going through $1 bins, I ended up opting only to get the Tales of the Marvels issues. There’s just not much in the way of Marvel stuff that I find worthwhile outside of 25-50 cent bins…but especially at the moment due to personal stuff going on.

The Gobbledygook issue will go into my TMNT collection; it was a nice find for 33% off, which put it cheaper than any modern Marvel issue.

weeklyhaul_10242018e

I snagged about $4-$5 worth of 25-cent bin comics. These Battlebooks ones stood out to me immediately for the tradedress…I love the way the white/red of the main logo pops and the characters on top of the crisp black background. These are a bit of nostalgia for me–I remember when these first came out! I think I’d originally gotten the Citizen V one, and can’t remember what the other one I picked up was.

These were a sort of game, where (with rules as described on a couple of inserts included in the issue) two players would have the characters "fight" and the results were determined by grids of statistics on the various pages.

They were more interesting than they sound, but are definitely at best value for 25 cents for the artwork. Still, fun finds!

weeklyhaul_10242018f

I have fond memories of the Slingers title. I have yet to actually read the various Spider-Man issues where Peter Parker took on the four alternate guises (Ricochet, Prodigy, Dusk, and Hornet). But when this series premiered, I went with the Ricochet edition, and followed the series to its conclusion (12 issues and a Wizard #0 issue, if I recall correctly).

As I recall, these were variant issues–the beginning and ending are the same in all four issues, but there’s a several (8? 12? 16? I honestly don’t recall as of this typing) page sequence in each issue that is character-specific, where the Slingers split up, so the Ricochet issue follows him when the four split, while in place of those pages, the Dusk issue follows that character instead.

I absolutely would not want this being done with modern comics at modern prices, since it would be vastly over-used very quickly. But now nearly 20 years in the past and available in 25-cent bins, I find this a fun sorta thing–especially getting all 4 issues for only $1.


And that’s it for October. Here’s hoping November’s a good month! Hard to believe we’re nearing the end of 2018 already…but then, lately it’s hard to believe it’s 2018 when sometimes I feel like I still so clearly remember stuff from 1999, or 1998…that I was self-aware even 25+ years ago (and that all these years later, here I am still into comics as much or more than ever before!)

weeklyhaul_10312018_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: Week of July 25, 2018

This week was a fairly small week of new release comics for me…small enough that I "padded it out" a bit.

weeklyhaul_07252018a

The new issue of Action Comics–#1001–was a given, for me. It’s been 3 months coming, since the huge #1000 issue.

After looking forward to The Flash War for so long and even letting the title go for several months, I got back in for the (finally) actual story itself…which seemed too short. This #51 "epilogue" issue is a pleasant surprise-extension of the story.

And Mr. and Mrs. X is Marvel actually getting me with a concept I’m interested in–fially having Rogue and Gambit get to this point (one of my earliest X-Men comics was #24–the "date" issue with the two.

I quite enjoyed the X-Men: Grand Design issues from the turn of the year, and was rather disappointed at the long delay between those and the next ones. Time healed that particular "wound" and it was a pleasant surprise to find this one out this week. Unlike other $5.99 issues, these actually feel heavy and "special" and worth the price.

I hadn’t realized The Hellblazer was ending…but as with the end of the 300+ issue Vertigo run, I opted to snag this final issue "immediately" with the intent to fill in the gaps I have in the story via collected volumes, eventually/someday.

Because I was "curious" after stupidly "buying into" some hype over the Teen Titans Special several weeks ago, figured I might as well give this issue a shot and see if it actually goes anywhere interesting, or if IT is all-hype/etc.

And finally, because it actually reprints an issue I did not yet own and had never even read before, the True Believers issue reprinting What If..? #1 was a handy addition for only $1. (3 Marvel comics for $11…pretty darned cheap considering their usual prices!)

Still, it’s rather dismaying that even the DC titles were all $3.99. I’ll occasionally be ok with occasional higher-price-point issues–Grand Design being an excellent example–but certainly not as a routine, regular thing. And for me, Marvel has far too often "abused" the higher prices in my eyes, such that I was honestly somewhat surprised that Mr. and Mrs. X was "only" $3.99 for a #1 issue. (Which was another reason to support the title–NOT EVERY #1 NEEDS TO BE a $4.99+ giant-sized issue! And yet, I could argue that this one would be more deserving of a giant-size status. Reprint X-Men #24, and maybe some other key issue from the characters’ pasts. Reprint the Avengers Annual Rogue first appeared in, and Uncanny X-Men #266 with Gambit’s first appearance–juxtapose their first appearances with how far they’ve come. After all, this title is not MERELY "the next month’s issue" of a title with a #1 slapped on the cover…it’s truly a new status quo for the characters, it’s a new title we have not seen before, and so on. (As opposed to the fifth(?) Amazing Spider-Man #1 or the seventh(?) Captain America #1 in the last 20 years)

weeklyhaul_07252018_blogtrailer

What If..? Age of Apocalypse #1 [Review]

classicreviewlogowhite

Quick Rating: Above Average
Story Title: What If…Legion had Killed Xavier and Magneto?

Summary: Here we’re shown what might have happened had neither Xavier nor Magneto lived to oppose the rise of an age in which the evil mutant Apocalypse rose to rule the world…

whatifageofapocalypse001 Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Dave Wilkins
Colorist: Anthony Washington
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Production: Brad Johansen
Asst. Editor: Nathan Cosby
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor-In-Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover Art: Marko Djurdievic
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This holds a lot of potential–the original Age of Apocalypse remains one of my absolute favorite X-sagas, period. And seeing that world played with could be quite cool, taking the concept and pushing in another direction while remaining in the spirit of the original.

Unfortunately, while ripe with potential, this issue lacks the space to truly execute a high-level story re-doing that saga in the space of a single regular-sized comic.

We open with the Watcher informing us that in this reality that we are shown, both Xavier AND Magneto were killed by Legion (the original story saw only Xavier killed, with Magneto’s X-men opposing Apocalypse). The absence of both characters ushers in a different age of Apocalypse; we get a re-imagining of re-imagined characters. When the story kicks off, we see a band of mutants AND other heroes (Captain America, Thing, the "current" Dr. Strange, and so on) mount a final attack to preserve their haven–though one of them has ambition to go beyond merely surviving and seeks to change the whole of reality, despite warnings against messing with such business.

The story’s heart is in the right place, showing this alternate version of an alternate universe. It’s jam-packed with a lot of characters that, for lack of space to truly flesh them out, seem rather contrived and present for the "coolness factor" of showing them; there’s no room to really flesh them out and show where they came from, what brought them to this point.

The art seems rather sketchy, and at points characters seem to be out-of-proportion…This is no standard, clean-lined interpretation of the characters. While this would normally be a complaint with me, something about the context makes it work. The story takes place in a mucked-up world with little to BE bright, sun-shiny/happy about, and the characters can’t afford to be clean-cut "super-heroes" or such, and the visual style lends a certain edge that just works for the tone, allowing a bit of abstractness to get things across.

As with the Onslaught Reborn issue, the quantity of ads managed to annoy me and take me out of the story, and makes me wish all the more that I’d simply waited for the inevitable TPB of all this year’s What If..? issues to read without ads.

Given that this particular story delves back to the core of the Age of Apocalypse, it seems almost out-of-place amidst the others in this batch, taking on stories from the last 3 or so years. In and of itself, it’s an enjoyable enough read, though it feels like a pilot missing a series: I think something like this would have made for an interesting mini-series, giving more detail to the changes brought into the concept and setting things up; all the moreso for the "twist" ending.

You could certainly do better than this issue…but there’s a lot you could find that’s worse. If you’ve followed most of the stories this batch of What Ifs spring from, you might enjoy a collected version more than the singles.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

What If..? Fallen Son #1 [Review]

What If? Fallen Son: What If… Iron Man Had Died?

Writers: Marc Sumerak
Artist: Trevor Goring
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Production: Joe Sabino
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue derives its story from the intent of answering the question “What if Iron Man had died [instead of Captain America]?” Opening with a recap of events we already know–the heroes’ Civil War, Captain America’s surrender, the bullets on the courthouse stairs–we see the outcome of the trial and where events could have gone had Cap not been assassinated. It is then that Tony Stark falls to events also tied back to the heroes’ war, and we see the world deal with Stark’s death, with snippets we get to check in on tied to the stages of grief. Without Stark to keep things moving as he’d tried, we see that certain more recent events are likely to have played out much differently.

While an interesting concept, I found this issue to be rather weak. I don’t know if that is the writing, or simply the amount of space to play with. We lose several pages to moving events forward without Cap’s death to get to Tony’s…and THEN cram in elements to tie to each of the grief stages, which makes things feel rather forced. Additionally, it seems that one ought to be up to date on subsequent Marvel events to fully appreciate certain moments here to fully appreciate the depth of this story’s events.

The art’s not bad, though not wonderful; it does the job and fits the story.

In addition to the main story, we’re treated to a brief story segment detailing the answer to the question “What if the Runaways became the Young Avengers?” (Written by C.B. Cebulski, Penciled by Patrick Spaziante, Inks by Victor Olazaba, Colors by John Rauch, Letters by Jeff Powell, Production by Joe Sabino, Assistant Editor Michael Horwitz, Associate Editor Chris Allo and Editor Justin Gabrie)

This is a four-page story segment; I don’t have the context nor the interest in it, and would have preferred the few extra pages to have been available to the main story. The art here is not bad, but the story seems a complete waste without having the earlier chapter and not having (nor intending to get) the later chapters. If this story is really worth telling, it should have gotten its own issue and not simply be broken across however many of the What If? issues we have this year.

For me, this issue was a real disappointment, only really redeemed by the fact that against general trend, it is a mere $2.99 cover price, so at least I didn’t waste my money on the new “in” price of $3.99.

Story: 5/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 5.5/10

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