So my kid wanted to go to a comic convention down in Miami, which is about five hours south from here. It wasn’t very hard to convince me! So off we went last weekend to Magic City Comic Convention, which is a smaller event (compared to, say, MegaCon in Orlando) at a convention center next to a hotel over by the airport.
I decided to go cheap on the hotel to leave us more money for the con by staying at a Motel 6. Next time, there will be less scrimping, I assure you.
Anyway, we got to the con pretty early. There were a lot of actors, wrestlers, voice actors, etc. And about 20 comic book creators,including Mantra writer Mike W. Barr. I stopped by his booth and got a couple of things signed. I’m not sure if he had ever seen one of the holographic covers before. Mainly people were bringing him Batman books to sign; I saw one dude give him a couple of Break-Thru books.
So that’s Ultraverse Note No. 1. It’s 20 years later but there are still signs!
Ultraverse Note No. 2: One of the comic book dealers (there were about 10 total) actually had several quarter bins. I love quarter bins! So I dove in and found he had a number of Ultraverse books that had the UPC codes on the cover (follow this link for that nerdiness). And when I say “a number,” I actually mean “80.” To me that was 20 bucks well spent.
This is one of those things they used to stick in with the box of comics from the distributor every week. Most comic shops got this kind of solicitation catalog. Most went into the trash, I’m sure. I don’t even think this is particularly collectible but it did have some interesting info.
I know there were 5,000 of each of the holographic covers for the first seven Ultraverse titles. Back in the day these books were hard to find, and when you saw one it was extremely expensive. Seems like I remember some with $100 price tags, and this was back when you could get a pretty good stack of Silver Age Marvel comics for that kind of money.
But I never understood the process. This catalog explains a bit of that: For every 100 copies of an Ultraverse launch title, retailers could buy a holographic cover comic for $4.25. You better have had a pretty healthy comic shop if you were planning on ordering 100 of anything, although this was just before the big comic crash of the 1990s.
My price point on the hologram covers is $5, meaning if I see one anywhere for that or less I will buy it.
And even though the Ultra 5000 covers were printed in the same numbers as the hologram covers (5,000 of each), my price point on those is only $2.
That means I don’t buy too many of these on eBay any more since you usually have $4 or $5 shipping costs for starters.
But I saw this one for $5 shipped, popped the BIN and got it a couple of days ago. It’s a nice copy with no damage, which is always a bonus when something is shipped through the mail.
These things are so nice looking I may have to raise my price point a little bit …
As far as Ultraverse comics go, the silver hologram covers were the bee’s knees. I would have been stoked to find one of these for under $50 back in 1994. Now I wouldn’t pay $50 for a set of all seven ($40, tops).
I still think they are very cool and I have picked up a bunch over the years, it’s just that you don’t have to pay that much for them (just ignore all those BINs for $20 and up on eBay). It’s very easy to pick up individual copies for under $10 shipped, sometimes half that much.
Just make sure the person you’re buying from has a decent rating and reliable shipping feedback. Hologram covers are easily damaged and once they have a ding or a few crinkles they don’t look nearly as nice. I won a lot of all seven for $20 once, and somebody in the post office must have dropped the envelope on its corner, because all seven books had a massive ding in the same spot. Ruined. And they appeared to be pretty much in near mint condition beforehand. I looked like that guy in the bottom left of the Prime cover (above).
Actually, these books aren’t that rare. There were 5,000 copies printed of each for a total of 35,000 (not counting 5,500 for the gold Ultraforce comic or the seven gold hologram versions — no idea of the print run on those, probably not very high). But for eye appeal, you can’t beat them. Any self-respecting Ultraverse collector should nab a full set of these.
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.