I pulled this one out of Giant Size Freex 1. It really takes me back; I remember buying this game for my Sega GameGear (talk about a battery gobbler; that system used to run on six Double-A batteries and burn through them in a couple of hours).
Mortal Kombat was pretty hardcore for its time, although the “fatalities” that caused such a ruckus seem pretty tame by today’s standards. I actually sucked at the game, but had a friend who was pretty good. He played another friend’s 10-year-old kid and beat him so bad that the kid started weeping.
You had five books from the first couple of months in the Ultraverse that were polybagged. That was something of a little trend in the early 1990s; it’s hard to believe there used to be arguments for and against leaving the books in the bag.
Prime, Hardcase and Strangers (all No. 2 issues) came with just a card. As far as I can tell they were always the same promo cards — although the Hardcase card came with the Strangers book, and vice-versa — for the inaugural Ultraverse card set.
Freex and Mantra (both No. 1s) came with a card and a wild coupon for Ultraverse Premiere 0. These are all great books to read. As collectibles, not so much. They’re among the most plentiful Ultraverse books you will find, bagged and otherwise.
Mantra and Freex were the two titles that launched with the first issue in a polybag with a card and a “Wild Coupon” for Ultraverse Premiere 0 (the coupons for Hardcase, Prime and Strangers were bound into the first issue; the second issues for those titles were polybagged with a card but no coupon).
Anyway, it’s just your average mid-1990s polybag.
I picked up a bunch of signed books a few months back and this was thrown in there, a Mantra 1 with the polybag signed by Terry Dodson. Weird, I know.
That speculator craze made us do some odd things.
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.
The idea here was to take the art from a comic book, put it in digital form and add some voice acting. This might have passed for high tech a couple of decades ago, but it seems fairly quaint today. Not sure what the original price was … somebody told me $20 and that seems about right. There are no significant extras but they look cool. The shrinkwrap is generic.
As far as I know, the only Ultraverse titles to get this treatment were the first issues of Prime, Hardcase and Freex.
I bought all three of the ones above in an auction for 1 cent, and $2 shipping. When I got the package I saw it cost $2.12 to ship. And that is why I can’t bring myself to sell anything on eBay.
I also picked up these a few years back (I think it was $10 shipped for all three). I’m not sure who produced them but it is exactly the same CD-ROMix, just packaged inside a bigger box. All three have identical box art on the back.
Mine are a little crumpled because I threw them in a box with a bunch of other junk. Storage issues, you know? Geez, I wish I had more room. I’ve been working on some shelves in my attic but it’s too hot to work up there during the summer.
Here are a couple of thumbnails if you are interested in what the backs look like:
Like I said, there are a lot of little books (literally) in the Ultraverse. Some of these were freebies tossed in with Wizard or Previews, and some were sold in bundles of 50 to comic shops to be set out on the counter by the cash register.
The whole idea was to generate interest in upcoming titles or storylines but there was also a vague sense of collectability. Which is what led me here, of course. That and a touch of OCD.
OK, more than a touch.
None of these are very valuable, definitely quarter-bin material. Especially the giveaways. Hostile Takeover and Jumpstart Effect aren’t too easy to find but when you spot one on eBay it’s usually not that pricey. It’s funny to see that the Ultraforce ashcan was a “Limited Edition 25,000.” By the time the Ultraverse was wheezing to the end, the print runs on their books were under 10,000 each month.
In any case, here are the ashcans that weren’t featured in other posts. Checklist down below.
So here’s the rundown on every Ultraverse ashcan. Please drop me a note if you know of any others.
Freex/Mantra (Diamond Retailers Seminar)
Hardcase Motor City Comic Con
Hardcase Hero Illustrated
Hardcase San Diego Comic Con
Hardcase (Heroes World Sales Conference)
Prime regular ashcan
Prime Comic Cavalcade
Prime Sega CD
Prime (Capital City Sales Conference)
Rune/Wrath gold foil
Strangers (Diamond Retailers Seminar)
Ultraforce (limited to 25000)
“Ultra 5000” sounds like an exclusive item. And back in the mid-1990s, a print run like that sounded pretty small. These were used as retailer incentives and rewards for fans. There is nothing special to distinguish them beyond the extra foil on the cover. And although a couple can be hard to find (Break-Thru, Ultraverse Origins gatefold and Ultraverse Premiere seem to be less common than the rest) there are usually a bunch of these on eBay or at shops like Mile High or MyComicShop.com. I spend a buck or two on them when I feel like it.
There are 21 of them. With 5,000 of each, that makes 105,000 in all. Doesn’t really sound that exclusive any more.
Edit: I added the Firearm 1 Ultra 5000 to this list on Oct. 5, 2011, since one was spotted on eBay last month. First one I’ve seen. If I ever get one for myself I will add the scan, but you can read about it here.
There were two versions of Ultraverse Origins and each got the Ultra 5,000 treatment. The one on the right is the only newsstand version.
Ultraverse Premiere 1 is the flip book on the other side of Rune 3. There is no foil on the Rune side of the book.
If you’re collecting these, just be patient. One year’s worth of scanning eBay and you will see 90 percent of them at a good price. You could also try the Dead Universes section over at Valiantfans.com. Some of those fellows might swing a trade.
Here’s the Ultra 5,000 checklist:
Ultraverse Origins 1 regular cover
Ultraverse Origins 1 gatefold cover
Ultraverse Premiere 0
Ultraverse Premiere 1 (on flipside of Rune 3)
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.
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.