Tag Archives: Mantra

Well, this is rare …

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I have thought for years that the Mantra Ultra-Limited Archive Edition is one of the tougher Ultraverse books to find. You just rarely see one for sale, even though the COA says that there were 500 of them. And 500 of something is rare but not, uh, Ultra-rare.

photo (3)Anyway, I found a copy on eBay last week and punched a BIN for $13. That’s more than I like to spend, but like I said, you hardly ever see this book. It arrived safe and sound and I put a couple of pictures up on the Ultraverse Facebook group, which led to some background information being posted.

This book was the brainchild of then-Malibu Marketing Manager Ross Richie. His idea was “to give retailers something super-rare and extra special they couldn’t get anywhere else. It was like a customer loyalty program — you supported Malibu, now we’re supporting you and appreciate you. My job was to handle retailer relationships, so I’d talk to them and put together a care package of posters and buttons and add that or some other curio and ship it out.”

Head of marketing Tom Mason (who also was an Ultraverse co-founder and wrote Dinosaurs for Hire and co-wrote Prototype) gave him the okay, so Richie ordered the stamp, created the certificates and got Chris Ulm and Mike Barr to autograph them. When he wanted to send one out he would stamp the book and put a package together. But he says he did this less than 30 times.

Then Marvel bought Malibu. Richie left Malibu shortly after, followed by Mason. The Ultra Archive project shut down when Richie left and the remaining certificates, as far as he knows, were tossed in recycling bins like so many other incentive books when the Malibu offices closed.

So good luck finding one of these! There are definitely some hard-to-find books from the early days of the Ultraverse … this might be the toughest of all.

Richie went on to become the CEO and Founder of BOOM! Studios, which is hitting a 10-year milestone for publishing comics in 2015.

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All three pins

Why, yes, I am still alive, thank you.

Still collecting, too. I’ve just been very busy (who hasn’t?). But I scored some good stuff recently so I will try to get a few posts up.

These are all three Ultraverse pins (as far as I know) and I got them all in one lot for under $5 shipped. Now that’s my kind of deal. I already had one of the Rune pins, but the others are new for me.

threepins

Pretty high quality pins, too. I know of one other Ultraverse pin but I don’t really count it because it is just one of those cheap metal tabs that folds over.


Mantra 2 in the polybag

Oh, I’m getting pretty close now. There are just a few books left on my checklist, and this was one of them.

Picked it up for a couple of bucks on eBay. I don’t think it’s rare, I just had to wait for a cheap one to show up. Unless there is actually a Freex 2 in a polybag (I have never seen one but it would not surprise me), this finishes up all the bagged books on my checklist. That just leaves a couple of ashcans, a couple of minor variants and the Firearm Ultra 5000 to finish this quest. That’s because I also picked up this book, another one that doesn’t show up very often.

It was thrown in with another auction as a freebie, wasn’t even listed in the main auction. So that’s nice.


Mantra cover gallery

Plenty of Mantra books spread across two series and a mini, with a few alternate covers. There were 24 in the first series, plus a Giant Size.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Seven books in the reboot, plus a couple of alternate covers.

     

     

 

Spear of Destiny was a two-part miniseries.

 


Polybag price variants

A handful of Ultraverse issues came with polybagged variants that had different prices from the regular versions … 50 cents more. They also have UPC symbols on the front. You can tell these from the initial run of polybagged books by the color banner on top of the bag.

The cards seem to have been selected randomly from the inaugural set of Ultraverse cards, so I guess there could be as many as 90 different variations for each. If anybody collects all 90 of an issue let me know and I will send over a truck from the loony bin to take you away.

 

I never noticed this before but the covers to Hardcase 4 and Strangers 4 make up a single image when placed side by side. Cool.

 

Ultraforce 1 is slightly different with a red banner. The card is always a Prime promo from the Ultraverse Masterpieces card set but it’s behind the comic.

 

Here is a list of all the Ultraverse books that came polybagged with price variants. I’m pretty sure it’s complete but I’ve been wrong before!

Firearm: 1
Hardcase: 4
Mantra v1: 2
Prime v1: 4 (both versions)
Solution: 1
Strangers: 4
Ultraforce v1: 1

I have copies of all of them except for the Mantra 2 and both Prime 4s.


First round of polybags

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.

 

 


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.


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.


Mantra signed bag

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.


Silver hologram covers

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.