Category Archives: Variant covers

Night Man and Gambit variant

Honestly, I’m starting to run a little low on variant covers. This issue is from one of the Marvel-Ultraverse crossover books featuring Night Man and Gambit, a pretty forgettable story.


This was the first book in a three-issue miniseries. They are quite easy to find cheap as a set, sometimes with both covers included for No. 1. I sometimes spring for one if I see it in a quarter bin but I’ll just as often let it sit there.

A couple of Prime variants

I thought I would ease back into things with a couple of variant covers. Prime had a couple, although all versions seem to be available in equal numbers. The first was No. 4, and had one version featuring a victorious Prime, the other Prototype. There were also polybagged versions of these with a card but no other tangible differences.


The other variant was No. 13, for no apparent reason.


All of these are readily available and cheap in eBay and quarter bins everywhere.

Edit: Moved some info from Tom Mason up into the main post.

Regarding Prime #13 – my memory of that issue was that Norm’s contract was up after issue #12 and he didn’t want to renew. With a different artist coming aboard with #13, Malibu didn’t want it to be a jumping off point for readers. Hence, an easy cover variant to spice things up on the rack.

Strangers 5 variant

Out of all the newsstand covers, Strangers 5 seems to be the only one that has a different “blurb” on the cover (actually, no blurb … they removed it) from the regular version. The art is the same (unlike Mantra 5 or Solution 5, for example), so the only difference is minor. Barely worth calling it a variant, but I think I am going to add it to the checklist since there is a difference.


I just bought the one on the right off eBay for a buck. Dude mailed it to me in an envelope with no boards or anything. Thanks!

UPC codes

Well, here’s a slippery slope. I already have a complete run of all the regular Ultraverse issues but I’ve known for a while that there were two versions of most of the earlier comics. The only difference is a UPC code on the front (there were also price differences on some of the polybagged issues that had UPC codes … I’m also working on a list of those).

I haven’t been making much of an effort to collect those UPC variants. I think (please correct me if I’m wrong) that the UPC code means that book was sold somewhere besides a comic shop (book store, grocery store, etc.). The ones without the UPC code are more common for that reason, since most collectors bought their books from comic shops.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago my local comic shop closed. After 16 years of getting my new books there, I had to find a new place. There are a few around town and I finally settled on one downtown near my office. After setting up a pull list I went through their back issues and found a few Ultraverse books with UPC codes. I bought them.

So, therefore, I am now officially collecting them … at least that’s where my typically OCD response will lead. These are my first five. I might have some more stored away, but I’ll have to pull some boxes out of the attic to check. I paid a buck each for these, a lot more than I would usually pay for a common UV book, but what the hell …


I spent a month scanning through photos on eBay (Bruce helped) to make a list of which books had UPC variants. This is just the list of books that were visually verified.

Break-Thru: 1, 2
Exiles: 1, 2, 3, 4
Firearm: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12
Freex: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9
Hardcase: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8
Mantra: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15
Night Man: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
Prime: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, Annual 1
Prototype: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10
Rune: 1, 2, 4
Sludge: 1, 3, 4, 5, 9
Solitaire: 1, 8, 9, 11
Solution: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
Strangers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Ultraforce: 0, 1, 2
Warstrike: 1
Wrath: 1

I don’t think that is anywhere near a complete list. My hunch is that every single book from the first year-and-a-half or so of the Ultraverse has a UPC variant. Later on practically all of the books had the UPC code box, so that put an end to this silliness.

Ah well, it will give me something to look for.

Ultraforce 2 variant

Just another variant cover, eh? What makes it noteworthy is that this was distributed shortly after Ultraforce 1, which had an alternate Ultra 5000 cover (one of 20 that Malibu printed; there were also 5,500 hologram covers for that particular issue). So maybe Ultraforce 1 was the final Ultra 5000. There were several more “limited edition” alternate cover Ultraverse comics after this one, though.

The cover blurb says Limited Special Edition (or Special Limited Edition, depending on how you like to read circular text) but doesn’t have print run numbers. Probably less than 5000, or maybe it was just cheaper to print without the silver foil.


Both books are readily available and cheap. The Limited edition often sells for a few bucks; I bought five for $5 once, though.

Solution 5 variant

As far as I know, this was the only variant cover for the Solution. Of these two, the one on the right is far tougher to find. I’ve only come across a couple although that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a big box of these stuck in someone’s garage.


The one on the left is everywhere. If you’re going to buy it you’re better off waiting for a complete run of Solution books; these are often just a few bucks on eBay. The one on the right will require some digging. I bought mine for a couple of bucks from Joe Koch’s web site, but I’m not sure if he has any more.

Painted variants

The seven titles that were relaunched after Black September each got a variant cover for the No. 1 issues (there were also painted variant covers for the Infinity issues and additional covers for the All New Exiles).

I don’t have the overall numbers, but the painted variants made up 20 percent of the print run. I don’t think the painted covers necessarily look better; they just look different. It was also apparent that the Ultraverse was heading in an entirely new direction. There is a whole lot of Marvel on those covers, including the Spidey-Prime with his hair hanging out.

But man, I miss $1.50 comics …




Prime is the only one with a UPC code on the painted version.





These aren’t too hard to find on eBay. The easy way to tell them apart is that the regular issues have a UPC code on the front and the painted ones don’t (apart from Prime … just be careful with that one). They’re pretty common in larger lots.

There are also signed-and-numbered versions of many of these with Ultraverse COAs.

New World Order


These are previews for the relaunch after the Black September event. I can’t remember where I got these but they have been in my collection since they came out. The one on the left looks like it might have been in a Previews or Advance; the one on the right has a Krause Publications credit so I think it must have come from a Comics Buyer’s Guide.

The one on the left is relatively easy to find on eBay; you almost never see the one on the right. This is for the completionists only!

Edit: Bruce’s comments deserve to be in the main post.

Now this was a cluster*(%$ if there ever was. These were distributed July/August 1995 and yes you are correct that the one on the right was released by the publishers of CBG, but were not released as aprt of the newspaper itself, but distributed (1) copy per bookstore dealers such as Walden Books.

The other was released through some through Capital City and some Marvel Direct (1) each to comic dealers – none were released through Diamond. 1995 was a turbulent year for comic distribution. Diamond had an Exclusive contract with DC, Image & Dark Horse to distribute their titles. Marvel had bought Heroes World Distribution the year before to release their own titles exclusively outside of Diamond & Capital.

Capital sued Marvel for loss of revenue and an out of court agreement Marvel continued to distribute their comics until the end of 1995. After that Marvel went back to distributing their own titles. Six months later Capital went under and a couple of years later Marvel went back to having Diamond distribute their titles instead of self-distributing.

The reason these are so hard to find is that (1) Not all dealers got a copy – (2) Those who did only received one copy – (3) This was also during the bubble burst and alot of dealers went under and alot of stock was just lost.

Mantra alternate covers

Mantra‘s first series had three significant alternate covers (there is also a price variant for No. 2 when it is in a polybag; I’ll cover that in an upcoming post).


Of these variants, the one above on the right is far-and-away the toughest to find. I’m guessing from the UPC box that it was a news-stand book and therefore wasn’t distributed in comic shops. In any case, you almost never see these. I bought mine from Joseph Koch’s online store for, I think, $3.

On the back of the book on the right is the regular cover, kind of like a flip-book; the one on the left has an advertisement for the Super Advantage SNES controller.


The UPC variant for No. 8 is a little easier to find. The books without UPC codes are common, quarter-bin stuff. I would pay a buck or two for any of the alternate covers I see, though.


With No. 13 both versions are pretty common. I’ve snared a few of these as parts of a larger lot of books. The most you should pay is a buck for each on a place like

Lord Pumpkin 0

This is the origin story for one of the better bad guys in the Ultraverse, definitely one of the coolest-looking. I figured I would post this now since I just finished the NecroMantra stuff.


There are two covers but the content is the same, and I don’t think that one is much rarer than the other (maybe the one with a close-up of LP’s face is a little tougher to find). Try not to spend more than a buck for either one.

There is also a signed version of the first cover that comes with an Ultraverse certificate of authenticity.

There were a number of different Ultraverse books that got this treatment, maybe a couple of dozen. I’m working on a list …