When the Ultraverse launched, there was no doubt about which superhero team was # 1… as much as I adored Freex, you knew that if the world was imperiled it wasn’t going to be Sweetface and Plug who were going to get the call. The Strangers were one of the original launch titles and they were prominently featured in house ads, crossovers and the like.
So why aren’t they remembered by the more casual (i.e., pitifully Ultraverse-unaware) fans?
I’ll tell you why: Ultraforce.
From the moment the Ultraforce was announced, The Strangers slid backwards in terms of importance. Ultraforce was the Ultraverse’s Avengers or Justice League, featuring their heaviest hitters and most popular solo stars. While The Strangers were united by a common origin, the Ultraforce was united by the old trope that they took on villains too powerful for individual heroes to face.
Plus, you had George Perez handling the art duties on the early issues of Ultraforce. As much as I like Rick Hoberg, that’s not a fair fight! And when the Marvel crossovers began, who battled against and alongside The Avengers?
Hint: it wasn’t The Strangers.
When The Black Knight moved over into the Ultraverse, was he fighting Atom Bob for leadership of The Strangers?
Was it Electrocute and Grenade starring in their ongoing animated series? Sadly, no – though most of The Strangers did get to guest star in the Ultraverse toon.
For me, I’ll associate Ultraforce with the beginning of the end… the coming of Marvel and the losing of the Ultraverse’s focus. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy parts of that series — hell, I’ll argue to this day that Topaz was a great character and you can never go wrong with Perez on art.
But I’ll always hold a grudge against Ultraforce for knocking The Strangers down a few pegs.