Prime Custom Action Figures

Building custom action figures is an art form all it’s own. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise there are some pretty cool Ultraverse custom action figures out there! Today we’re looking at just one example.

Check out these two versions of Prime by Dan Drewes! Classic Prime and Rogue Prime! Apparently Dan used Wrecking Crew figures as the base along with Thor heads.

Prime Toy Custom 1

Prime Toy Custom 2

I love how each figure is similar, yet still so different from the other. Fantastic job, Dan!

I found these at Figure, along with many more custom Ultraverse figures. We’ll definitely cover more in the future!

If you could have your own custom Ultraverse action figure, who would you pick?

Trading Cards: Firearm

Ultraverse started into the trading card business almost immediately.  Here are some of the Firearm related cards featured in the first set they produced.

Firearm card 13

 Firearm card 83

   Firearm card 79

Alec Swans former employers got their own entry as well.

Firearm card 93

Also, in case you wondered what happened to the Jerry Bingham design for Firearm…that design was reworked and became Requiem.

Firearm card 14

Firearm card 14 back

The Strangers # 5: Deathwish!

The Strangers # 5
“Dynamic Tension”
Written by Steve Englehart
Art by Rick Hoberg and Tim Burgard
Edited by Chris Ulm

This issue features some of my favorite moments from the early Strangers run. With the team finally taking some time to re-establish their personal lives, we get to see our heroes away from one another, hanging out with family and friends. It was a really needed set of moments because the first four issues moved at a breakneck speed. By today’s standards, this issue gallops along but at the time, it was very much a “breather” issue, even with the big action at the back half of the book. In fact, I would have been okay if Englehart had used a “day in the life approach” and not had a big villain in this issue at all — just give us more of the characters being who they are.

The issue begins with the team splitting up. Bob goes home to visit his parents and we find out that his newfound celebrity has really changed things – women who ignored him before are calling him up and the media is camped outside his parents’ residence. Leon returns to the mean streets and teaches a lesson to the gangbangers who tormented him in the past. While it wasn’t the most mature thing to do with his powers, it perfectly fit with his age and felt very real. Hugh and Candy talk about his past (he was a “famous” high school quarterback) and the two of them briefly fight about the nature of their relationship before they make up. As Hugh says to the reader, “I’m confused! You must be a real woman–!” Ah, Englehart, you slay me. Elena continues to be my favorite character, working to further the team’s public relations position while Yrial is the one who uncovers the threat of Deathwish, who turns out to be another survivor of the cable car accident from issue one.

But before we get there… David tries to use his healing powers on a friend who’s dying of AIDS. Like with Leon, this scene really worked because these are the kinds of things that real people would do with superpowers. The outcome isn’t a good one, though, and it reminds the entire team that their newfound powers don’t make them gods… they have limitations.

The Strangers come together to face Deathwish, who’s killed everyone on his city block. After a quick debriefing with Captain Jacob Rome (San Fran’s official Ultra liaison as of Freex # 2), our heroes come face-to-face with Deathwish, a scary-huge villain who says things like this: “Because it wasn’t Death who touched them! It was far, far worse — the all-consuming lust for oblivion! It was I — Deathwish!”

As Electrocute says, “Goodness!”

We find out that Deathwish grew from Bushnell, the old man who was riding the cable car. He’s basically the old man’s sickness given physical form and he’s eager to spread out and infect others with his precious “oblivion.” While the watching cops wonder if this dark individual has any connection to the Night Man (more continuity cross-promotion), David is able to use what he learned in his failed attempt to help his friend to overwhelm Deathwish and (apparently) destroy him. In a somewhat poignant moment , Deathwish proclaims “No! No! Deathwish does not wish to die…”

A really strong issue! Hoberg catches the despair on David’s face and has some cute moments throughout. While the fight ties in to the major character moment of the issue, I still think that the strongest pieces of the story were the earlier ones where we simply got to know them all as people a little bit more. Englehart was always a master at characterization and the series shines the most when he goes that direction.

In bonus material, we get a couple of Rune pages in a flip-book format and an introduction to the Night Man written by Steve Englehart.

Next issue: the long-awaited return of… Deathwish! Wow, that defeat didn’t last long, did it?

The Strangers You Never Knew…

mantraAs recounted on his website, Steve Englehart was asked by Marvel Comics at one point to revive the Ultraverse… but to do it in a single title. His idea was for the heroes of the Ultraverse to wake up inside the Marvel U and have to find new lives for themselves alongside the Avengers, Spider-Man, etc. Englehart figured that a title like The Strangers might actually make more sense for this group than it did for the originals and so he fashioned a new team concept that would bring together at least one character created by each of the Ultraverse’s founding fathers. The roster of this “All-New, All-Different” Strangers? Here you go:

Hardcase, Choice, Mantra, Prime, Sludge, Rune, Lord Pumpkin, Lady Killer, The Night Man, Rhiannon and Atom Bob.

Englehart’s preference was for a monthly, double-sized book but Marvel was a little leery of trying that… in the end, it didn’t matter since Marvel decided not to do the revival project at all.

That’s one interesting mix of personalities that Englehart was planning to bring together, wasn’t it? I’m not sure how it would have played out as the months went by but it’s yet another missed opportunity for the House of Ideas with regards to the Ultraverse.

Ask Around!

The Ultraverse has always been described as a ‘Writer’s Universe” with emphasis over story building then imagery (pun intended).  James Robinson, who produced some of his first professional work in the Ultraverse, is a writer often name dropped when supporting this claim. James Robinson wrote for Firearm.  Firearm was very will written with very funny and poignant dialog.  Firearm was also very well designed with beautiful imagery. If your not familiar Firearm is about an ex spy turned private eye operating in a tinsel town filled with Ultras.  Here is one of my all time favorite single pages in a comic book, from Firearm #1 (page 16).

firearm - 1_16

I know when I read it for the first time (and every time) it feels like I’m in a great P.I. detective show on television.  Great imagery and design for a comic in a ‘Writer’s Universe’….

Ultra Monthly #1

My professional background is in marketing, so I love stumbling across old promotional material. Especially promotional material for comic books! Today we’re presenting the entire first issue of Ultra Monthly, a giveaway 16-page comic promoting Malibu’s Ultraverse. Normally we don’t share an entire comic, however, this particular issue was free and for promotional purposes. Below is a fantastic description of the magazine from Longbox Graveyard, website of Paul O’Connor (Contributing Editor on Ultra Monthly).

The idea behind Ultra Monthly was that it was a news magazine from inside the Ultraverse — it told the story of the Ultraverse through news stories and “photographs,” relating only what an outsider would be able to divine about the super-powered derring-do of the Ultraverse. I guess it was kind of like Marvels, except that Ultra Monthly was a news magazine, and not a comic (and we didn’t have a couple guys named Busiek and Ross on board, either). Anyway, the point was to show a “street” level view of the Ultraverse, but it was also to promote the characters in the line, and that proved especially challenging for characters that lurked in the shadows of this new fictional world.

Nicely explained, Paul! And now, “The Premiere Ultrahuman News Magazine!” Click the images below to read the entire magazine.

Ultra Monthly 01-p01

Ultra Monthly 01-p02

Ultra Monthly 01-p03

Ultra Monthly 01-p04

Ultra Monthly 01-p05

Ultra Monthly 01-p06

Ultra Monthly 01-p08

Ultra Monthly 01-p09

Ultra Monthly 01-p10

Ultra Monthly 01-p11

Ultra Monthly 01-p12

Ultra Monthly 01-p13

Ultra Monthly 01-p14

Ultra Monthly 01-p15

The Strangers # 4: Hardcase!

The Strangers #4 with Hardcase

The Strangers # 4
“Between A Rock And A Hardcase”
Written by Steve Englehart with plot assist from James Hudnall
Art by Rick Hoberg & Tim Burgard
Edited by Chris Ulm

When last we left our heroes, The Strangers had dropped in on Hardcase, demanding in no uncertain terms that the time had come for a teamup! When we rejoin them, we find that our heroes (along with Hardcase and his partner Choice) are prisoners of Aladdin. We discover that Aladdin has the means to hold Ultras against their will and aren’t afraid to use those techniques — and they’ve gone even father than that. Using DNA salvaged from the dead members of The Squad, they’ve actually used the powers of Hardcase’s dead friends to come up with new weapons and systems. This doesn’t sit well with Hardcase for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, Yrial continues to struggle with her place on the team and we see the beginnings of a potential romance between Atom Bob and Choice… one that reveals a number of self-doubts in Bob. These will take on new importance later in the series but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Sam Grandee, the gripman on the cable car that was hit by the Jumpstart effect, shows up — he’s now The Grip and is working for Aladdin. Steve Englehart raises some racial issues when he as Dirt Devil (another Aladdin operative) whispering “That boy’s great-grandpappy would’a made a helluva slave, Foxfire!” While I always appreciated that Englehart didn’t shy away from such subjects, there were times (like this one) when he did it with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Grenade and Hardcase use their powers in an inventive way to get past the prison they’re being held in and the team begins exploring Aladdin’s secret base. Along the way, we get lots of character bits and Engleheart moves forward the subplots regarding Lady Killer’s growing appreciation of her teammates, Zip-Zap’s feelings about his place on the squad and the love affair between Grenade and Electrocute.

After a big battle with the powered forces of Aladdin, both sides agree to a truce. Bob makes the stipulation that any attack on Hardcase and Choice would be seen by The Strangers as an attack on the entire group. In the end, Hardcase turns down a chance to join the team and everyone parts as friends.

First off, let me say that the wraparound cover is GORGEOUS and easily one of the best in the entire run. I always had a fondness for that weird outfit that Choice wore and Hoberg depicts her quite well, as he does with all the ladies.

Story-wise… this has some great character-building moments and the action is interesting enough but in the end, it felt like not a lot actually happened. Aladdin is kinda bad? Well, we knew that… Hardcase can be a bit of a jerk sometimes? Yeah, knew that. The Strangers go their way and Aladdin keeps conducting awful research on Ultras. Hmm.

Having said that, I generally enjoyed this issue. It really felt like the old Marvel issues where heroes would team up, move past their differences and then save the day.

Next up: Deathwish!