Prime #4 Variant Covers by Norm Breyfogle

Prime #4 featured a cool battle between Prime and Prototype! To build hype for the issue, it was printed with two different covers to choose from, both by Norm Breyfogle. Check ’em out!

Prime #4 – Prototype Victorious

Prime #4 Prototype Victorious

 Prime #4 – Prime Victorious

Prime #4 Prime Victorious

Two of my favorite Ultraverse heroes drawn by one of my favorite artists! Two great tastes that taste great together!

Ultraverse Podcast: Prime of Your Life, Episode 03 – Prime CD-Romix

Ultraverse Podcast: Prime of Your LifeIt’s the third episode of ULTRAVERSE PODCAST: PRIME OF YOUR LIFE!

In this very special episode, we share an audio adaptation of Prime #1 from the CD-Romix! Hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for listening!

Next week: The second episode of WRATH OF ALADDIN PODCAST!


Happy Thanksgiving from ULTRAVERSE NETWORK

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Ultra-Fans! To celebrate, today we’re featuring the Prime balloon from the 1994 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! This comes from Prime #19 written by Gerard Jones & Len Strazewski, with pencils by Dave Cockrum & Tim Hamilton, and inks by Keith Aiken & Rodney Gates.

This year I’m thankful for the fun we’ve had with the Ultraverse Network! Celebrating these characters, interacting with fellow fans and creators alike, and finding my joy reading these comics over again!

Prime #19 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Happy Thanksgiving!


Debutant Debut – Mantra #1

Mantra 1

Mantra 1

As referenced in the first episode of our Ultraverse Podcast, The Prime of Your Life, here is the cover to Mantra #1.

Upon initial review, I’d argue that the cover depicts an adventure that’s taking place elsewhere and off-screen. Where is this half-naked and oddly posed woman leaping? And who is it that yelling guy with triple-barreled gun shooting? And who is the weird guy whose face is horribly obscured by the logo?

I do my best not to nitpick. I try my hardest not to be a jerk. But this cover does nothing for the fantastic book inside.

I love you, Mantra. Let’s not fight.

Strangers # 6: Deathwish Returns

strangers6The Strangers # 6
“The Tao of Physiques!”
Written by Steve Englehart
Art by Rick Hoberg and Dave Simons
Edited by Chris Ulm

After being dispatched last issue, the supervillain Deathwish makes a speedy return… it was such a quick rematch that even Englehart had to joke about it on page one: “Thought he was gone, didn’t you? So did they…”

Now, one might ask if Deathwish was an interesting enough foe to deserve a return bout, especially so soon. I’ll admit to not feeling the Deathwish love but both last issue and this one gives us the opportunity for some really great characterization – so even if Deathwish himself is kind of blah, he serves as a useful tool for exploring David’s powers and their limitations (last ish) and Electrocute’s status as an artificial lifeform (stay tuned).

After doing some cleanup at the scene of last issue’s battle, Zip-Zap continues teasing Yrial about her membership with the team. Though she continues to loudly proclaim that she’s not really a Stranger and has no desire to be, her actions suggest otherwise. At this point, Yrial is becoming a little more interesting but I still find her to the one member who sticks out like a sore thumb.

At the hospital, Deathwish returns out of the body of G. Lawrence Bushnell, empowered once more by all the beings who are lying near death in the medical facility. Another fight ensues, with Zip-Zap showing off his powers in close quarters. Eventually, Lady-Killer, Zip-Zap and Yrial follow Deathwish into the morgue, where they’re forced to take on their foe while the other members of the team rush to the scene. When Yrial initally refuses to enter the fray, a disappointed Zip-Zap declares “This is the coldest, lowest, sorriest, slimiest–! I thought behind all that shuckin’ an’ jivin’ — I thought we were friends!” It’s a powerful moment though I didn’t know a single person who still said shuckin’ an’ jivin’ in 1993. Perhaps I was just around the wrong people.

Anyway, the other Strangers show up and a massive battle takes place — with Electrocute taking center stage. In a really well-done scene, she declares “I was made in a factory! I can’t die — and I hate it!!! J.D. Hunt made sure the fear of pain and death weren’t programmed into me — so he could anything he wanted with me! You think I’m proud of that? I want to fear death! I want to be able to die — so I can know I lived! But I can’t die! I can’t die! I cant dieee!!!”

Yes, it’s powerfully overwritten but the moment kind of demands it. The expression on her face (as depicted by Hoberg and Simons), coupled with her words really makes the character (forgive me) come alive. Her desperate need and desire to be “real” has never been as clearly depicted to this point. It really, really works.

Meanwhile, Yrial has found the nurse for Deathwish’s host and unleashes Henrietta’s full potential. The nurse, too, was changed by the Jumpstart… and within her is a beautiful embodiment of Life itself. Freed from the shackles of her physical form, Henrietta goes in search of Deathwish and the two of embrace, vanishing before the eyes of our heroes. Yrial proclaims that “I helped the woman of light come forth, knowing she would nullify the man of darkness…!” Zip-Zap apologizes for doubting her while the rest of the team mulls over the fact that people changed by the Jumpstart sometimes don’t show those effects for many months. As they wonder who else is out there, we’re teased that next month brings the crossover known as Break-Thru… and for The Strangers, that means Prototype!

We get a nifty Lady-Killer pin-up by Statema & Schellinger to round out the issue.

Great story by Englehart, especially the parts with Zip-Zap, Yrial and Electrocute. The art was quite nice and I think that Simons is a really nice complement to Hoberg, especially on the facial work.

The series is really hitting its stride, folks!


zip-zapThe Strangers boasted a very eclectic cast and several of them are very “Nineties” in their presentation… and Leon Balford is perhaps the epitome of that. An urban kid, Leon was pressured by bullies and gang members on an almost daily basis. When The Jumpstart gave him superspeed, he was finally able to claim a measure of independence in his life. Rather than running away from his problems, he chose to run directly at them… at full speed, sometimes without giving proper thought about how he was going to handle them!

I appreciate this character because it really represents Steve Englehart’s inclusiveness. Throughout his work, he always used characters of different cultures, ethnicity and sexual orientations. Now, many times he wasn’t very subtle in how he did so but given the times he was writing in and the fact that in many cases, he was pushing the boundaries farther than anyone in mainstream comics had before him, I think he can be forgiven for utilizing what (to our modern eyes) would be seen as stereotypes.

With Leon, everything screams Nineties. From the way he dresses to the codename Zip-Zap to the way he references then-modern celebrities, Leon is definitely a product of his time. If the Ultraverse were revived, I wonder how he’d be treated now — I think he’d have to be updated in appearance but maybe he’d be seen as “retro” or “old-school” and all would be fine.

A word about Leon’s dialogue… he used street slang very often and some of it was painfully awkward. It really did seem like an older guy trying to be “hip” and failing in his writing. Then again, I wasn’t living on the mean streets of San Francisco at the time so maybe someone did talk the way Zip-Zap did?

The Night Man Podcast, Ep. 2: MANGLED!

Night Man Podcast LogoThis episode: “Mangled!”

In this second episode, Ben talks about issue #2 of The Night Man, Glen Larson’s death, the “shadow” of an earlier “man” Steve Englehart created, and listener feedback!

Thank you so much for listening!

Ben’s other podcasts:

Me and You and ‘Bu

What brought me to this sweet thing we called the Ultraverse?

Mantra #4 cover by Terry Dodson & Al Vey

Mantra #4 cover
by Terry Dodson & Al Vey

My then-girlfriend, Monica.

It was the fall of 1994. We were in both in college in Austin. After a brief two year break-up with comics, I decided to start reading them again.

Only too much was happening. There was a new Green Lantern because the old one went crazy. Bruce Wayne wasn’t Batman but was again. And wasn’t Superman dead? And who the hell are all these X-Men?

I was looking over the Marvel and DC Comics at my local comic store when I heard Monica ask if I’d ever read this book called “Mantra.”

What the hell was Mantra?

She handed me Mantra issue 4.

I stared at the cover. While not dynamic or inventive, there was something intriguing about this jaundiced cyborg cuddling up next to a beautiful masked woman spilling out of her armor. And that color! Who did color like that?

Monica told me she thought we should buy it – and by “we” that meant me.

So I did. And I read it and learned about a single mother named Mantra caught up in an centuries old battle with the evil Boneyard  — only Mantra possessed the body of a goddess inhabited by mind and soul of a man!

Crazy stuff. I was sold.

The next day I returned to the store and picked up issues two and three. And then something called Firearm caught my eye. Then there were these books called Prime and Hardcase.

It was new. It was young. It was dynamic.

It was the Ultraverse. And comics won me back again.