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Squadron Supreme #1


Capsule Review

Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme did the whole superheroes-as-fascist-enforcers thing a year before Watchmen hit the stands (though not as well), and James Robinson cuts right to the core of that idea in this re-launched Squadron Supreme title. This team is composed of the sole survivors of a score of worlds that got wiped out in the run-up to Secret Wars, and all of them have a bone to pick with Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. That part isn’t so unusual — Namor is the resident superhero asshole of the Marvel Universe, and the line-up to punch him in the nose stretches around the block. What sets this Squadron apart is that they aren’t interested in half-measures like knocking Namor through a building or ridiculing his bathing trunks. Nope, they want to kill the guy, and they want to destroy Atlantis, too. This taking-life-and-death into their own hands business is what most harkens back to that Gruenwald series, but this book hots up much quicker than that 1980s mini-series, and it definitely goes to eleven. When a talking-head-on-the-street lauds the team for “doin’ what The Avengers are too scared to admit needs doin,” we are clearly signaled that the Squadron Supreme might be the team today’s world deserves, and that moral ambiguity looms ahead! Leonard Kirk’s art was dynamic and broad-shouldered, but I could have done without the two-page spread of Atlantis thrust up from the sea, looking like a basket of pink sex toys. No matter, I’m in!

Approachability For New Readers

The heroes-from-multiple-worlds thing is confusing … and newcomers will be left to wonder about everyone’s beef with Namor … but the book otherwise does a decent job of introducing the heroes and the premise.

Read #2?


Sales Rank

#46 December

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.


Squadron Supreme #1


Scarlet Witch #1


Capsule Review

Disappointing. Scarlet Witch is a favorite character, and James Robinson is a superior writer, but I found this take on Wanda meandering and a bit too precious for its own good. The Scarlet Witch is troubled by dreams, sips coffee, talks to a ghost. There is a bloody murder scene and a demon in the mix, but the book isn’t eerie enough to work as horror … and there isn’t nearly enough action for it to work as a superhero book, either. So what we have is something in the muzzy middle, with a lot of scene-setting and a potentially interesting promise to explore the roots of Wanda’s witchcraft, but I won’t be sticking around for the ride. Unlike the recent Doctor Strange reboot, this book didn’t do enough to bring me into Wanda’s world, or make it an interesting place that I wanted to explore. Vanesa Del Rey’s art aims for moody but comes up muddy.

Approachability For New Readers

Poor. There is a clever framing device at the beginning of the story that ties us back to the Avengers, but otherwise this story is a lot of vague references to characters and events of the past. Starts in the middle, and it’s kind of the middle of nowhere.

Read #2?


Sales Rank

#29 December

Read more about the Avengers at Longbox Graveyard

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

Scarlet Witch #1


Top Five Ultraverse Comic Book Movie Properties

Longbox Graveyard #112

Editor’s Note: This week’s guest blog is a special treat — a look at the buried treasure that is the Ultraverse from two men who were there at the start! Along with a host of high-powered comics creators, Chris Ulm and Tom Mason played critical roles in the foundation of the Ultraverse, which might just be the greatest comic book universe you’ve never heard of! In an age where Marvel is bringing Ant Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy to the movie screen, the time may be right for the Ultraverse’s return!

Take it away, Chris & Tom!

Hey, Disney executives and producers with a Disney deal in your hand or a desk on the lot — have we got some ideas for you! As you know, your Marvel Comics properties are all locked up and tied together to create a Marvel Movie Universe that mirrors the founding comic books.


But, if you look on the fringes of Marvel’s super-hero properties, you’ll find a few gems in the Ultraverse, a universe of comic books that Marvel purchased from Malibu Comics back in 1994. There are several titles that could be pulled out to start their own tentpoles separate from the Marvel Universe.

Here (in no particular order) are our top five!


Mantra, Adam Hughes

Creator: Mike W. Barr, debut issue pencils by Terry Dodson

High Concept: Ancient Warrior Knight Reincarnated In The Body Of A Soccer Mom!

There’s nothing you guys love more than a body-switching movie. It’s been a reliable box-office performer ever since Freaky Friday. Sometimes, you have such a switch-crush that you’ll make two of them in the same year. In Mantra, an eternal warrior named Lukasz is killed but reincarnated into the body of a woman, Eden Blake. Now, you’ve got a manly-man warrior with the attitudes of a guy from centuries before stuck in the body of a single mom with two kids and an ex-husband. However you pitch it, it’s Highlander meets Switch and that’s either comedy gold or high drama.



Creator: James Robinson, debut issue pencils by Cully Hamner

High Concept: Film Noire Detective Hunts Super-Heroes

Too many super-heroes? That’s what the so-called pop culture critics say. Somehow four super-hero movies in one year is too much for them and they need more idiotic rom-coms or weepy historical dramas instead. If you’re one of “those” people, then Firearm is your antidote: he hunts super-heroes. He’s no angry vigilante, though. He used to be in a British secret agency called The Lodge, but he “retired” and moved to California to set up shop as a private eye. But his cases are far from normal and usually involve crossing paths with both good and bad super-heroes, including the super-hero serial killer called Rafferty.


Prime, Boris Vallejo

Creator: Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski, debut issue pencils by Norm Breyfogle

High Concept: Boy Living In A Man’s Body

The big man of the Ultraverse, he’s Superman and Captain Marvel all in one. A boy named Kevin Green transforms himself into a super-hero by “building” a super-strong hero shell around himself. The shell is built from organic liquid skin that ejects from his body. And when he transforms back, the body withers and spits him out. But that’s not the best part — he’s super strong and has basically all the powers of Superman, but he’s controlled by Kevin, a 14-year-old boy, with a boy’s experiences and emotions. So the world’s most powerful super-hero is an inexperienced, hormonally-charged teenager. The teenager never goes away — he’s always trying to masquerade as an adult. Once again, that’s either comedy gold or high drama.


Rune, Barry Windsor-Smith

Creator: Chris Ulm and Barry Windsor-Smith, debut issue pencils by Barry Windsor-Smith

High Concept: Twisted Twilight

Rune was a walk on the dark side. Rune, an ancient energy vampire, had many guises through the history of mankind: alien, sorcerer, beast, god, devil. Now he is dying of cancer and only the blood and energy of super-humans can stave off imminent death. Rune has it all: secret societies, government conspiracies, teenage romance and a story that spans the history of humanity.

The Strangers

The Strangers, Rick Hoberg

Creator: Steve Englehart, debut issue pencils by Rick Hoberg

High Concept: Passengers Assemble!

Random passengers on a cable car get struck by energy and find themselves changed beyond recognition, with strange powers. Who becomes a hero? Who tries to hide? Who uses their newfound powers for evil? These are the questions that drive the strangest collection of super-heroes ever assembled. While suited to film, this property seems tailor-made for episodic television in the tradition of Lost or Under The Dome, with seemingly random characters thrown together, and then tested in the crucible of paranormal circumstances!

Malibu Comics Co-Founders

Malibu Comics Co-Founders Tom Mason, Chris Ulm, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Rosenberg at their 2012 Comic-Con Reunion

Drawing from classic super-hero comics, hard science fiction, horror and epic fantasy, the Ultraverse was known for its epic premises and imaginative takes on classic tropes. Many of the best concepts could not have been realized as movies because the state of the art for CG was not up to the task in 1993, and the audience was not sufficiently literate in all things comics. Now, that’s all changed — comic books drive box office world wide and it’s about time the strange and wonderful corridors of the Ultraverse were explored on the silver screen!

Are you listening Disney?

About The Authors:

Chris Ulm was a co-founder of Malibu Comics and the Editor-In-Chief of the Ultraverse, which was based on his original development. He co-created the Ultraverse title Rune with artist Barry Windsor-Smith. Chris Ulm is now CEO and co-founder of Appy Entertainment, a leading mobile games development studio.

Tom Mason was a co-founder of Malibu Comics and the company’s Creative Director. He co-created the Ultraverse title Prototype with writer Len Strazewski. Mason is currently an Emmy-winning writer-producer in the big, wide world of television.

Thanks, Tom and Chris, for making your case why the Ultraverse is ready for its close-up! What do you think of their list? Did they forget your favorite Ultraverse character? Should Marvel go with their own C-list characters rather than develop these Ultraverse properties? Does the loyal devotion of Facebook’s Ultraverse group indicate the Ultraverse still has the capacity for mass appeal? Sound off in comments, below!

IN TWO WEEKS: #113 Ben Urich: Role Model in a Sea of Heroes


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