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.
By the mid-1990s the concept of the “Zero Issue” had been pounded into the ground. So for the Black September relaunch, the new Ultraverse started instead with”Infinity” issues. Try sticking that one into your comics cataloguing software.
Eight comics got the treatment, including Black September. Each had a regular all-black cover (title and price were in bright colors) and an alternate illustrated cover. These books were meant to stand out on a comics shop shelf, and they look fantastic. Both versions are eye-catching and mysterious.
The black covers are not hard to find, and really cheap when you do find them. The illustrated covers are a lot tougher to find. They’re usually easiest to buy if you are getting them as part of a large lot on eBay. According to the books, the painted covers made up 20 percent of the print run.
My scans look a little crinkly, but the actual books are a perfect flat black. I was eating a pot pie while I scanned them in and didn’t bother taking them out of their bags.
There is actually one more All New Exiles Infinity variant. You can read about it right here.
Siren is the only title here that was not a relaunch of an original Ultraverse title.
In the interest of being complete, here are the Black September books, even though these were covered in another post.
I think I got all of these books as part of a larger lot of about 100 books on eBay, and spent less than $20 shipped. That’s how it goes sometimes when you are collecting Dead Universes.
After Marvel bought Malibu, they decided to relaunch the Ultraverse with mostly the same titles and some cross-over characters from the Marvel Universe. I’m not going to sit here and judge the quality of the stories but it was the beginning of the end for the Ultraverse line. Prime and Ultraforce made it the longest, lasting all the way to issue No. 15 before the plug was pulled.
There were a few bright lights in the relaunch but nothing that really matched the first year of the original Ultraverse. Anyway, the Black September event was the cornerstone moving forward.
There was a thin preview book that profiled the upcoming titles. I can’t remember where I got it, and it’s not too common on eBay but it looks like a comic book so we put it on the checklist.
The Black September Infinity book (I would make an infinity symbol there but I’m not sure how) came in two versions (all of the Ultraverse titles were relaunched with an Infinity issue). One is mostly black (the regular titles were entirely black except for the title) and the other is a regular illustrated cover. These are both common books — don’t break the bank here. I’m not sure if one was printed more than the other, but I think the black cover one feels a little more common.
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)
If you’re going to be an Ultraverse completionist, you’re going to need to track down some toys. Fortunately these are plentiful and cheap online and elsewhere (for the most part). There are eight basic figures on orange cards and 10 more black-carded “Ultra 5,000s” that were dropped in cases as chase items. After the Ultraforce TV show bombed, the action figures followed suit and most of these are not particularly collectible.
But five other figures (pictured here) were barely distributed and are extremely tough to find. When you see them on eBay they usually go for big bucks. A group of all five sold a few months back for $550. These are appealing to collectors of action figures more than just Ultraverse collectors and some of those guys (I’m just assuming they are guys) are not afraid to drop some serious coin.
Supposedly 504 were made of each of these five (there are 5,000 each of most of the other black-carded figures) but they feel more rare than that. Here’s a pretty good site that discusses how many were made and how they were distributed. There was going to be a second run but they were never produced.
There was also a toy car called the “Rage Rover.” It’s not bad, and you can usually find a decent boxed one for under $10. I’ve got a couple.
Here’s the checklist for all of the Ultraforce action figures that were actually produced. The 504s are in bold.
0. Prime Ultra 5000
1. Prime Basic Figure
2. Prototype Basic Figure
3. Hardcase Basic Figure
4. Atalon Basic Figure
5. All American Prime Ultra 5000
6. Ghoul Basic Figure
7. NM-E Basic Figure
8. Topaz Basic Figure
9. Night Man Basic Figure
10. NM-E Ultra 5000
11. Night Strike Prime Ultra 5000
12. Polar Prime Ultra 5000
13. Solar Prototype
14. Radiation Hardcase
15. Hardcase Ultra 5000
16. Red Slayer NM-E Ultra 5000
17. Blue Steel NM-E
18. Shadowfire Night Man Ultra 5000
19. Queen Topaz
20. Night Man Ultra 5000
21. Desert Heat Night Man
25. Topaz Ultra 5000
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.