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.
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.