Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Ultraverse - an introduction

Following the footsteps of a friend of mine who read through Cerebus, one issue a day for a year, I've decided to try something similar.

I've always been a fan of Malibu Comics Ultraverse, later Marvel Comics Ultraverse, and when it debuted in 1993, I was just getting into comics in college. I saw a blurb for The Night Man in Wizard magazine, saw it was brand new, and decided to get in on the ground floor. I bought every single Night Man comic and every single other comic he appeared in (like the two crossover stories Break-Thru and Hostile Takeover), and when Marvel took over Malibu and consequently took over Night Man I kinda got lost trying to follow it and let it fall to the wayside.

But make no mistake. Night Man and the Ultraverse were major parts of me wanting to become a comic book writer. The gimmick behind the Ultraverse was that their focus was on story. They brought in some of the best writers they could find and created the world the stories would take place in and then, in June of 1993 they launched. These were well written and well thought out stories and even though I was only looking at one corner, the Night Man, I really enjoyed it.

Later, as an adult with a disposable income, I decided to complete the run of The Night Man when I found a bunch of Ultraverse comics in a Quarter Bin at a local comic shop. After completing the Night Man set, I decided to go one further. These comics were good. Why not get them all? So I did. I found sets of them on eBay for extremely cheap (considering the quality of the reads, it is an amazingly cheap thing to do) and over a few years I collected almost the entire run of the entire publishing history of the Ultraverse. Some were good, some were bad, some were in between. Many of them I haven't even read.

Which leads me to my friend and his Cerebus reading. Why not do something similar?

Now, I don't plan to read an Ultraverse comic every day (although I could), but I am going to read through the Complete Ultraverse, in publishing order, as part of my free reading time. In some ways, yes, this is entertainment and fan-boy-ishness. In other ways, this is something of a clinical study, as I examine the creation of a fictional universe and the structure of the stories. For that it what make this whole exercise interesting: from the first promotional announcement through a hostile takeover by Marvel to the final issue of the universe, here is a chance to look at some unique storytelling and watch how it plays out over time and real-world changes and challenges.

I'll post thoughts and notes here, and maybe comic covers or other stuff (like the Ultraverse Valentine cards I once got . . .), and probably some links to interviews or things like that (things like Steve Englehart's website, which has some interesting insight into his time with the Ultraverse).

If you like the Ultraverse, pop this on your RSS feed and chime in from time to time, I'd love to hear from you.

~ Ben Avery

1 comment:

Joshua Grover said...

I know you posted this ages ago, but I recently picked up the entire collection of ultraverse comics and I was wandering what is the best way to read this. instead of reading just one set then another set i want to follow along from the beginning to the end. much like you would a book. I remember Prime and Rune were my favorite as a younger kid but, I don't believe those are the best route to start reading at if you could give me a pathway to read through that would be awesome.