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Ultraverse Revisited: Strangers #3

ultraverse_revisited

strangers_0003TNTNT!

Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciller: Rick Hoberg
Inkers: Tim Burgard & Larry Welch
Letterer: Tim Eldred
Color Design: Keith Conroy
Editor: Chris Ulm
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: August 1993
Cover Price: $1.95

Three issues in, and we get introduced to a villainous team for our Strangers team to face–TNTNT!

As the issue opens, we get an introduction to the villains of TNTNT, by way of simultaneous fighting and chattering, as they introduce themselves to the Strangers as each fights a Stranger. Tyrannosaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronne, and Tugun. Get it? TNTNT. We have some choppiness, between seeing parts of the fight and the aftermath of the Strangers (victorious) getting costumes made and such. Then we get another bit with the old man we’ve seen at the ends of issues, as his cancer reveals it’s actually a villain and he’ll never be healed. There’s also a quick check-in with J.D. Hunt, before we get back to the Strangers, who’ve gone to Hardcase’s place and are there waiting for him when he and Choice get there (see also: Hardcase #3!)

The art on this issue’s not bad, but doesn’t blow me away. It has the "look" and "feel" of the Strangers for me, and definitely has a ’90s vibe. The story is a bit choppy, and whether it’s lack of story elements (such as a caption denoting time) or the way the art is, I actually thought my reading copy of this issue had been misprinted and that pages were out of order. I eventually caught on to what was being done, but considering I’ve been reading comics for nearly 30 years, I don’t feel I should be so thrown by an issue or unable to catch on FASTER.

The story itself isn’t all that bad…this gives us a villain team for the Strangers to fight; obviously if you have a whole team of super-powered heroes, just a lone villain shouldn’t be a match, so having a whole team of super-powered villains works. The way everyone talked in-battle, and the way the TNTNT members introduced themselves felt cheesy as heck to me, and not exactly in a good way. Zip-Zap gets a bit of a subplot, with a bigger range to get away from the battle proper and discovering some suits watching the group; and even gets himself shot/drugged for his trouble. Confusing (and frustratingly so) as the issue could be structurally, I definitely do relish the inclusion of subplots; and whatever complaints I have, there’s a bit of nostalgia in the "old style" of focusing on team members individually in a battle that–were it to happen in real life–would absolutely not be one in which characters could interact as they’re shown here to do.

I wasn’t overly thrilled with this issue, but I’m still curious where things go, and looking forward to the Strangers/Hardcase crossover. I’m hoping that where I’m not terribly engaged with the Strangers as they’ve been thus far, I’ll enjoy them more once I see them interacting with the Ultraverse world as a whole.

This is only a 3rd issue, and Ultraverse issues not being terribly expensive–period–I would recommend getting issues 1 and 2 along with this, as this would seem more of a mess as an isolated issue. And there’s no real reason to read this in isolation without the first couple issues!

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