Monthly Archives: April 2011

Prime ashcans

I don’t think this one should be very tough to find, but it is anyway. It’s more of a mini-comic than an ashcan, and the story leads into the beginning of the Prime video game for Sega CD. You almost never see these for sale on eBay. I’ve only seen three and they got scooped up pretty fast. I paid $5 for mine.

As far as I know this was the only video game for the Ultraverse characters that was released (a Firearm game was apparently in production for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis and the ROM appeared online recently), and it was only available on that system. The game was re-issued and  packaged with another game (Microcosm) but that one did not have the mini-comic. I haven’t played it, but I can’t imagine it holds up very well.

I’ve also bought two boxed copies of the Prime-Microcosm game for under $10 but don’t have one of the Prime by itself. I might pay $10 if I saw one.

The Ultraverse went ashcan crazy for a while. The first regular Prime ashcan had a Boris Vallejo cover that was also the cover to Prime Annual 1. I’m not sure what the print run was, but you can find these very cheap all over the place. There is another version with gold foil on the cover and a Comic Cavalcade logo, and these say “Malibu Limited Edition 5,000” where the others say “75 cents.” Much tougher to find.

 

A friend of mine bought one for me from the Comic Cavalcade website; we also picked up a signed (by Boris Vallejo) version of the same book. But that was a few years ago. I just checked their site and they don’t have them anymore.

   

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The first ashcans

I’m guessing these were used to drum up interest from retailers at various sales conferences in the months before the Ultraverse was launched. Many of them are signed by the comics creators.

They’re not very high quality; in fact it looks like it would be a breeze to “increase the print run” at any business with a decent copy machine. Just run off some copies and staple them together. Not that I would advocate such behavior …

These usually go for a few bucks whenI see them, but I’m not sure why. They look pretty cheap. I guess there is a type of comic book collector who likes to go for ashcans.

Prime, Strangers and Hardcase each got their own book …

  

Freex and Mantra shared a flip-book.

  


Prime Printer’s Proof

You want oddball? We got oddball.

This is one of the first Ultraverse items I collected after a long “career” of chasing down Valiant stuff. Like the certificate says, it’s a printer’s proof. I suppose that means this was taken from some of the first comics off the press, and the sides have not been trimmed (it looks sort of like a newspaper’s edges). It’s definitely different, and fun variants like this are part of why I like collecting this stuff.

Prime was the inaugural launch title from the Ultraverse, and this is one of the ways Malibu commemorated it. As far as print runs … who knows? Printer proofs are created so editors can check for mistakes and color corrections, so normally the print run should be small. I don’t recall seeing any of these back in the 1990s and I have no idea how they were distributed.

I paid a couple of bucks for mine. Every now and then — a couple or three times a year — they show up on eBay. Sometimes there is a minor bidding war to help the price reach double figures but usually these sell for a couple of bucks.


Limited Super Premium Editions

Now that’s a pretentious-sounding category. And they had a price to match; IIRC these were sold for $40 each (you could also buy a simpler Limited Premium Edition without the signatures and with a different cover for $10). Each book paired an Ultraverse franchise with their Marvel counterparts: Exiles and X-Men, Prime and Hulk, Nightman and Wolverine.

The stories were … well, never mind. The art is straight out of those mid-1990s stylebooks. It’s hard to believe they sold many of these at those prices. Now you can get them cheap, of course. I pay a buck or two when I can. I bought a short stack of the Nightman and Wolverine signed books once for $1.50 each. I see these all the time on eBay for $30-40 BINs, sometimes even over $100. Good luck with that.

The signed versions look pretty nice.

 

There are two different versions of each, although the only difference is the certificate of authenticity. One was done by Dynamic Forces, the other by American Entertainment. As far as I can tell, the signatures are the same for each version.

 

Here are the three Limited Premium Editions. These did not come with COAs or signatures.

I really can’t imagine paying $15 for a single comic book, but those were some free-wheeling days.

Still, I would not be surprised if there were several large boxes of these stashed in a warehouse somewhere.

These are pretty cheap now; last time I checked on eBay somebody was selling these in bundles of 25 (and he had several of these for sale) for less than $15 shipped. Maybe he’s the dude with the warehouse.

 

Once when I was looking around eBay I noticed an auction for one of the Limited Super Premium Edition Prime and Hulk books. But it didn’t say anything about it being signed, and from the picture I could not tell if there were any signatures. What the heck, I spent a few bucks to see what it was.

When I got the book, sure enough it was the version that was supposed to have signatures but the cover was not signed. There was no COA either. This seems like more of a mistake than something that ought to be on the checklist, but I still think it’s pretty cool. Then a few months later I got a similar LSPE Exiles and X-Men with no signatures. I have yet to find the Nightman and Wolverine version, but I’m sure it’s out there.

   


Mantra Ultra-Limited Archive Edition

This is definitely one of the harder-to-find books. They made 500 of them but they don’t really look that special so I would imagine that many of these are languishing in comic shop budget bins or stuck in closets. You see one on eBay once in a great while. I got mine, like so many other Ultraverse books, on accident. I bought a silver Mantra hologram cover and this book was thrown in as a freebie. Nice!

Its value is hard to define. I would pay $5 if I saw one at a convention or comic shop, maybe $10 depending on how my day was going. And for me that is a lot. There are very few Ultraverse books for which I would pay more than a buck or two. Not that I don’t want them, but I will probably see them somewhere else for a very low price. If you’re patient, all this stuff is cheep. Er, cheap.

The thing to distinguish this book as an “archive edition” is a unique stamp that you can barely see on the right side of the cover (it says “Mantra Archive Edition“). And if there were 5,000 of each Ultra 5,000 print run, well, here is what happened to 500 of them.

The certificate is signed by Mike Barr and Chris Ulm. The cert says the book came in a ProGard but mine is just in a regular bag and board.

Edit: Snarky bits removed …


Countdown to Ultraverse

Here’s an example of variant covers for no apparent reason. This comic was some kind of giveaway with previews of upcoming Ultraverse titles. Some of them had a unique serial number — adds to the collectability, eh? I don’t remember seeing these being sold in comic shops, though.

At first I thought there was just one version of these. Then someone spotted another. And another. These are the only three that I know for sure exist.

As far as value, I’m not sure if I’ve ever bought one of these off eBay by itself. I get them packed in with a lot of other books. I’ve grabbed a couple out of quarter bins, too.


Gold hologram covers

To me, these are the crown jewels of collecting Ultraverse comics. I have no idea how many of these were printed, but I don’t think the number is too high.

When they first launched the Ultraverse, seven of the first series (Exiles, Freex, Hardcase, Mantra, Prime, Prototype, and Strangers) had variant silver hologram covers for the No. 1 issues. I suppose these were mainly dealer incentives, but I remember seeing these going for $100 or more at comic cons back then.  The official print run for each was 5,000, but I couldn’t tell you if all of those made it into circulation.

But the gold hologram covers … I never saw one of those until a few years ago on eBay. I don’t have the data to back this up, but my hunch is that these are really freaking rare. But since nobody seems to care much about collecting Ultraverse anymore, you can still get them relatively cheap. I picked up a Prime gold when I thought I was buying a silver for $5 on eBay. I bought a Freex gold for $8 from Mile High Comics. It took me several years to put together a full set; the most I paid was around $20. I saw a full set of all seven go for about $150 a couple of years ago (all of the silvers were included in that auction).

Here are the seven. I also included the Ultraforce gold, although it is a different type of gold hologram and did not have a silver counterpart. I think they are pretty common (official print run was 5,500); I bought 20 of them from Mile High for $32 a few years back.

   

   

  

  

Click on the image to see a larger picture, but these things don’t really scan in all that well. Help me out if you might know how many of these were made, or what happened to them.


It all starts with a checklist

So a few years ago, some of us on the valiantfans.com forums decided to go for a complete run of Ultraverse comics. For me it was not so much from a sense of nostalgia or because I was attracted to the stories (although some of the comics were quite good), but because there are so many variant covers and special editions. If you collect comics from the 1990s then this might make sense to you. Some of these were awfully expensive during the day, but now you can find them pretty cheap all over the place.

Once we started collecting them we realized that we had no idea how many variants there were. This list began as an effort to keep track, and it’s as close to comprehensive as we can make it (please drop me a note if you know of anything that deserves to be on here). Knight over at valiantfans.com has been the main caretaker. New comics are discovered sporadically.

If I had to guess, I would say this list is about 98 percent complete. Some new stuff will be found … it’s an ongoing project.

Angels of Destruction: 1
Avengers/Ultraforce: 1
Battlezones: 1
Black September: Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), Preview
Break-Thru: 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 2
Codename Firearm: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Collector’s Guide to the Ultraverse: 1
Conan (comic book): 4, 5 (small flashback)
Conan the Savage (magazine):
4
Conan vs. Rune: 1
Countdown to Ultraverse: 3 different versions
Curse of Rune: 1, 1 (Alternate cover), 2, 3, 4
Dream Team: 1
Eliminator: 0, 1, 1 (Black Cover Edition), 2, 3
Elven: 0, 1, 1 (Limited Foil Edition), 2, 3, 4
Exiles: 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 2, 3, 4
(All-New) Exiles: Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), Infinity (2nd Alternate cover),  1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 1 (2nd Alternate cover), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Exiles vs. X-Men: 0, 0 (Alternate cover, signed)
Firearm: 0 (packaged with VHS movie), 1 (1.95), 1 ($2.50/in Polybag), 1 (Ultra 5,000), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
Flood Relief: 1
Foxfire: 1, 1 (Alternate cover), 1 (Ultra Gold Limited Edition), 2, 3, 4
Freex: 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 1 (in Polybag), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 1 (Giant-Size)
Freex/Mantra: nn Ashcan (Diamond Retailers Seminar)
Godwheel: nn Ashcan, 0, 1, 2, 3, 3 (Alternate cover), Wheel of Thunder TPB
Hardcase: Detroit Motor City Con ashcan, Hero Mag ashcan, Hero Mag San Diego Comic Con version, nn Ashcan (Heroes World Sales Conference), 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 2, 2 (in Polybag), 3, 4 ($1.95), 4 ($2.50/in Polybag), 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
Hostile Takeover: nn Ashcan
Jumpstart Effect: nn Ashcan
Lord Pumpkin: 0, 0 (Alternate cover). Note: Lord Pumpkin 4 LSE is actually an alternate cover to NecroMantra 4.
Malibu Signature Series: 1, 2
Malibu Sun: 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
Mantra (Volume 1): 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Ultra Limited Archieve Edition w/ raised seal/COA), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 1 (in Polybag), 2 ($1.95), 2 ($2.50/in Polybag), 3, 4, 5, 5 (Alternate cover), 6, 7, 8, 8 (Alternate cover) 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 13 (Alternate cover), 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 1 (Giant-Size)
Mantra (Volume 2): Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), 1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Mantra Spear of Destiny: 1, 2
Mutants vs. Ultras: 1
NecroMantra: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 (Lord Pumpkin Limited Special Edition)
New World Order: nn Preview (characters on bottom), nn Preview (characters on right side)
Nightman (Volume 1): 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 1 (Annual)
Nightman (Volume 2): Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), 1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 2, 3, 4
Nightman/Gambit: 1, 1 (Alternate cover), 2, 3
Nightman vs. Wolverine: 0, 0 (Alternate cover, signed)
Phoenix Resurrection: 0, 0 (Gold edition), 0 (Red Shift cover), Genesis, Genesis (Gold edition), Revelations, Revelations (Gold edition), Aftershock, Aftershock (Gold edition)
Power of Prime: 1, 2, 3, 4
Prime (Volume 1): nn Ashcan, nn Ashcan (Comics Cavalcade), nn Ashcan (Sega CD), nn Ashcan (Capital City Sales Conference), ½, 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 1 Printer’s Proof (Ultraverse cert) 2, 2 (in Polybag), 3, 4, 4 (Alternate cover), 4 (in Polybag), 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 13 (Alternate cover), 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 1 (Annual), Prime Time TPB, Prime Time Hardcover 
Prime (Volume 2): Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), 1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Prime/Captain America: 1
Prime vs. Hulk: 0, 0 (Alternate cover, signed)
Prototype: 0, 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 1 (Giant-size)
Rafferty: nn Ashcan
Ripfire: 0
Rune (Volume 1): 0, 0 Spin, 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 2, 3, 3 (Ultra 5000), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1 (Giant-size), nn Ashcan, nn Ashcan (Limited edition)
Rune (Volume 2): Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), 1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Rune Hearts of Darkness: 1, 2, 3
Rune/Silver Surfer: 1, 1 (Alternate cover), 1 (Limited edition)
Rune vs. Venom: 1
Siren: Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), 1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 2, 3, 1 Special
Sludge: 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
1 (Giant-Size, X-mas)
Solitaire: 1 ($1.95), 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 ($2.50/in Polybag), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Solution: 0, 1 ($1.95), 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 ($2.50/in Polybag), 2, 3, 4, 5, 5 (Alternate cover), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Strangers: nn Ashcan (Diamond Retailers Seminar), 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Silver hologram), 1 (Gold hologram), 2, 2 (in Polybag), 3, 4 ($1.95), 4 ($2.50/in Polybag), 5, 5 (UPC, no blurb), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, Jumpstart Effect TPB, 1 (Annual),
Ultraforce (Volume 1): 0, 1($2.50), 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Gold hologram), 1 ($2.95/in Polybag), 2, 2 (Limited Special Edition), 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, nn Ashcan , 0A Ashcan, 0B Ashcan
Ultraforce (Volume 2): Infinity, Infinity (Alternate cover), 1, 1 (Alternate painted cover), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Ultraforce/Avengers:  nn (Prelude), 1
Ultraforce/Spider-Man: 1A, 1B
Ultraverse Double Feature: 1
Ultraverse Future Shock: 1
Ultraverse Origins: 1(Regular cover), 1 (Ultra 5000, Regular Cover), 1 (Alternate gatefold cover), 1 (Ultra 5000, Alternate gatefold cover)
Ultraverse Premiere: 0, 0 Error, 0 (Ultra 5000)
Ultraverse Secrets Marvel Doesn’t Want You to Know: nn
Ultraverse Unlimited:
1, 2
Ultraverse Year One: 1
Ultraverse Year Two: 1
Ultra Monthly: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Unleashing the Ultraverse: nn
Warstrike: 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 1 (Alternate cover), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1 (Giant-size)
Warstrike Prelude to Godwheel: 1
Witch Hunter:
1
Wrath: 1, 1 (Ultra 5000), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1 (Giant-size)
Year Zero: 1, 2, 3, 4