There is a pretty stout list of Ultraverse books that got the “creator autograph” treatment; some distributed by Malibu, some by Dynamic Forces and a few others including Catalyst and Atomic Comics. I’m putting a list together.
But I would put these books at the top of the list just for being cool. They are signed first issues of Strangers and Hardcase, but each certificate includes a hand-drawn sketch by artist Rick Hoberg (Strangers) and Jim Callahan (Hardcase). They are numbered to 200 but I don’t recall seeing these when they were released so I am not sure how they were distributed.
These are authentic. Says so right there. I even erased a tiny bit of one line to make sure it was an actual pencil sketch. Yep, authentic. Should have trusted the certificate.
I paid in the range of $20 each for these (they were in a lot with a few other things). The only difference between them is that the Hardcase book has a special sticker on its cheap plastic sleeve. I will probably take it out of there anyway and put it in a nice bag/board.
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 …
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!
Mantra v1: 2
Prime v1: 4 (both versions)
Ultraforce v1: 1
I have copies of all of them except for the Mantra 2 and both Prime 4s.
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.
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!
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.
Today there is a trade paperback for everything, it seems. But during the Ultraverse’s relatively short run there were only three and they didn’t offer a discount over just buying the books separately.
Cover price on comics then was typically $2, but the cover price on these trade paperbacks was $10, and they only contained four issues. I guess it had something to do with the printing costs, but there probably wasn’t much of a point in waiting for the trade when it would take you months longer to read the story and you had to pay more for the privilege.
So that probably explains why there were only three: Prime Time, Wheel of Thunder and Jumpstart. These are pretty common on eBay and elsewhere but most sellers seem to have them overvalued quite a bit. But you can snag each of these for under $5 shipped if you are patient.
There is also a hardcover version of Prime Time, which looks really sweet. These are a little tougher to chase down but I’ve found a few copies for under $10 (I drastically overpaid for the first one I saw … rookie mistake).
The cover price on this book is an astonishing $46 dollars!
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.
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)
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.