Ah, nostalgia! Be it that old cartoon, a favorite toy, or a comic book from days gone by, isn’t it great, when out of the blue, the memories come flooding back, and you’ve no choice but to exclaim “Holy Crap! Remember…?”
Ah, yes, Malibu Comics and the Ultraverse. I can smell the chromium foil now!
Let’s begin with a history lesson within a history lesson. Back in the mid-80′s, Malibu Comics launched. It was an independent company producing mostly black and white books. Over the years, Malibu grew, and in fact when Image Comics first launched in the early 90′s, Malibu was the publisher-of-record for their initial offerings. It wasn’t until the emergence of the Ultraverse, however, that Malibu really started to garner attention.
The Ultraverse was an imprint published by Malibu within which their super-powered “Ultras” all came to coexist in a single, tightly knit continuity. The line boasted both solo books, such as Prime and Nightman, as well as team books such as Ultraforce and The Exiles. The latter boasted a bold storytelling technique: solicited as an ongoing series, The Exiles was scripted to be a 4-issue miniseries. In its fourth and final issue, an accident left the members of the team all dead or critically injured.
It wasn’t just the writing that was cutting-edge. Malibu boasted its own in-house coloring department, allowing digital coloring that put even the big two to shame. But then, perhaps this was a mixed blessing for the publisher.
In 1994, Marvel Comics purchased Malibu, by most accounts to acquire the coloring techniques the publishers of the Ultraverse employed. As a result, creatively, the Ultraverse was integrated into Marvel’s multiverse. In the Black September crossover, Marvel attempted to breathe new life into the Ultraverse by relaunching all of its titles with infinity issues and loaning to them a number of Marvel mainstays such as the Black Knight, Juggernaut, and even briefly the Phoenix. The plan failed, however, and within a few short years, Malibu Comics and its characters ceased to exist.
But what about the characters? Who lived within the Ultraverse? Well… there was Prime, up above. He was basically a ripoff of DC”s Captain Marvel - a child who could transform into a nigh-unstoppable powerhouse. There was Hardcase to the right here – an actor who was transformed into a nigh-unstoppable powerhouse. Then, ummm, there was Nightman, who had the ability to sense evil and wear kevlar. Oh, and, thanks to the crossover with Marvel, there was two of him, and one of them gained magical powers and was a cannibal and may have had an incestuous relationship with his mother/former arch enemy. And they gave this guy a show. A reaaaaally shitty show.
Speaking of TV shows, Ultraforce even got a cartoon which spawned a toyline! This means that if you really want to, you can own (multiple) figures of Prime, Hardcase, Nightman, and even the creatively named villain, NM-E. Yes. N. M. E.
Has it, perhaps, yet become clear just why Malibu Comics and the Ultraverse are gone? It’s comics, though… surely they’ll be back, right? Not according to Joe Quesada – E-in-C of Marvel Comics. There’s some dirty little secret keeping these characters dead and buried, and it seems not even Quesadamancy can bring them back. I don’t know what it is, but I’m thankful for it! RIP Malibu, RIP Ultraverse.