July 1993. The second month of the Ultraverse.
As I read the editorial material in the back of this month's books, they mentioned television commercials, bus ads, park bench ads, and some sort of billboard near both Marvel and DC's offices in NY. They were coming out with a vengeance.
So, starting with Hardcase #2 . . . the art was the first thing I noticed. Because it was bad. This is true of many early UV titles, I think. Remember, they were pitching themselves as the "anti-Image", focusing on writers, rather than artists. That doesn't mean NONE of their art was good, but here at the beginning, some of it was show stopping awful. The story was good, though, getting into Hardcase's choice and Choice's hard case . . . introducing Choice, who was to be an ultra created for commercial purposes and now escaping. Choice appeared last month in an ad for Choice Cola in Ultra-Monthly. Writer, James Hudnall. Art, Cranial Implant Studio. Letters, Tim Eldred. "Color design", Moose Baumann.
Ultra Monthly #2
Speaking of Ultra-Monthly, I'm enjoying these faux-magazines. They report on the events
of that month's comics, but do so based on what the "human" repsonse to ultras would be.
There's even a "Point/Counter Point" argument about ultra registration. The arguments are
the SAME as what we're seeing in Marvel's current Civil War. It's pretty funny -- Marvel has printed a faux-Daily Bugle with articles similar to this month's Ultra-Monthly.
Prime #2 gets into what I love about Prime. He's a kid in an adult ultra body. Captain
Marvel SHOULD be like this . . . but I've only seen one or two stories where they've done it well. Here, Prime gets a "Superman/Lois Lane" moment with the girl he's got a crush on. The problem? he looks like an adult, and he's taking an unusual interest in a 13 year-old girl. It ends in a cliff-hanger, with Prime getting caught by some sort of creature sent by the people who created him. I'm enjoying reading this again. Writer, Gerard Jones & Len Strazewski. Art, Norm Breyfogle. Letters, Tim Eldred. "Color design", Keith Conroy. (Note: every month, Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski switch back and forth whose name gets credited first. I can't remember what their co-writing process was. If I find out, I'll make an entry about it.)
Freex #1 is a classic origin tale, featuring origins of the teen-aged freaks. It SHOULD be a poor man's X-Men . . . and it comes close. It also reminds me of Runaways. There's nothing new under the sun, eh? There's very little plot -- just characterization. I don't mind. Freex #1 succeeds where Strangers #1 failed for me. This is a great example of a first issue of a team book. Set up some mystery, introduce your characters, and don't try jamming too much into one issue. Writer, Gerard Jones. Pencils, Ben Herrera. Inks, Mike Christan. Letters, Tim Eldred. "Color design", Paul Mounts.
What was that I said about not jamming too much into one issue? Mantra, in a nutshell, Lukasz is an immortal warrior with a twist: to stay immortal, he takes over a new person's body every time he dies. The other twist, the battle hardened, booze hound warrior ends up in the body of a woman. I'm amazed how much they packed into this one issue. Battles take place, origins are explained, and the battle Lukasz swtiches bodies three times. The last switch, of course, being the woman he is for the entire series. I expected that shot -- where he finds his new body to be female -- to be the last page. Sort of like in Prime. Lukasz looks in the mirror, sees his body and . . . "Oh no! I'm a woman!" Classic cliffhanger, eh? Nope! They move on -- MORE STORY after that! Writer, Mike W. Barr. Pencils, Terry Dodson. Inks, Al Vey. Letters, Tim Eldred. "Color design", Paul Mounts.
Strangers #2 was definitely a new read for me, and it keeps getting into why they should be a team, what their team name should be, etc. It was a little tedious. Now, later issues of Strangers, which I read because the crossed over with Night Man and with Break-Thru, did not bother me. But I found these first two issues to be work to read. And it's interesting, because I liked Night Man a LOT and it's the same writer. Could the problem be the size of the cast? Possibly. Though this brings up something interesting. Steve Englehart is KNOWN for awesome team books. He has classic runs on both Justice League and Avengers. I'm not sure why Strangers isn't hitting the mark with me. Although, there is some set up for a HUGE twist that occurs in the Strangers Annual and Night Man Annual crossover, called the Pilgrim conundrum, which make some of this reading very interesting. Writer, Steve Englehart. Pencils, Rick Hoberg. Inks, Tim Burgard & Larry Welch. Letters, Tim Eldred. "Color design", Keith Conroy.
All books edited by Chris Ulm.
Anyway, next month:
THE STRANGERS #3
ULTRA MONTHLY #3
Prototype and Exiles are new titles. It's cool, because in Ultra-Monthly they keep mentioning Prototype and Ultra-tech -- setting up interest for that new title.