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Ultraverse Revisited: Early House Ads September 1993

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With the September 1993 Ultraverse books, we have our largest month yet for house ads…with the largest house ad yet in Firearm #0!

Firearm #0 4-page ad:

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It’s interesting to see four pages per (most issues) dedicated to this. Rather than just a one-page piece advertising this video/comic combo pack, we have an opening page, a double-page spread, and a closing page, introducing us to this concept of a live-action video where the story starts in the video and concludes in a comic book! This was one of many interesting multi-media things Malibu did for the Ultraverse line, and to my knowledge remains a one-of-a-kind thing!


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I’d forgotten how early on this Flood Relief issue came about. For a donation to the American Red Cross, one could get a special edition comic book featuring the Ultraverse. An interesting fundraising device. I have no idea how well it did, or how ‘limited’ it actually was. Offhand, this would be the second "mail-away for a limited-edition Ultraverse comic" promotion from Malibu.

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Where it seems all the other titles got ads ahead of time, I had noted for the August 1993 house ads that there’d been no ad for The Solution before its first issue was out. Instead of a "coming in September" we got an ad for it in September with the "On Sale Now!" note.

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I believe this is the first full-page ad for a title that is not a #1 issue. We had the split-page ad for several of the continuing titles, but this seems to be the first full-page ad. In this case, for Hardcase #5, coming in October 1993, part of the Rune Month stuff. Here the ad is just for the title but I recognize the cover image from the fifth issue!

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The Night Man is a new title that debuts with the October 1993 titles. I’ve always been a fan of this cover and its coloring. That I can say that based on this ad is–as I’ve noted with previous such reflections–one of the things I really, really like with the ads. They are the cover image of the first issues, so you know exactly what you’re looking for! No arbitrary image to get confused over when there are several other images on issues when you just want THE first issue. This use of the cover images also helps make them that much more memorable and recognizable, and thus "iconic" in a way that publishers in 2018 seem to despise.

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However, while I say that above about Night Man, this image of Sludge actually is not the first issue’s cover image–whether it was a last-second change or something else, I don’t know. Perhaps for nearly 25 years of knowing the actual cover, I think I prefer the actual cover of #1 to this…though this image gives a bit more to go on with the character, as the cover to #1 is an extreme close-up of Sludge’s face; here we see more of the (shadowed) body. But combine this ad with the actual cover, and there’s a bit more of an idea what one’s dealing with before ever getting past the cover of #1!

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Finally, getting a bit ahead of things, we have this Solitaire ad for November, giving us a look beyond "just" the very next month. Of course, we already had that with the Rune ad previously, that basically only told us the character was coming (and in September 1993, Rune #1 was still some four months away!). There’s no mention in this ad of the polybagged-with-a-playing-card promo that would come with the first issue of Solitaire…I don’t recall if there ever was any mention of it outside of something like Wizard or Hero Illustrated.


As I’ve mentioned several times recently…next, I’ll be getting into the October 1993 Ultraverse issues–"Rune Month!" Each issue has a flip-cover and several extra pages. The short segments collectively make up a #0-issue for Rune, and by collecting all 11 coupons and mailing away, you could receive a standalone edition of Rune #0 as a single-issue (plus a poster, some other goodies…and also a #0-issue for The Solution!)

More on that at the end of covering the October books!

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Ultraverse Revisited: Early House Ads August 1993

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Here are house ads from the third month of the Ultraverse line: August 1993! We have one full-page and one split-page ad for actual Ultraverse titles, one for the "other" group of Malibu titles (that preceded the Ultraverse line), and then the "Ultrafiles" pages which were all the same across the various titles.

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I’m almost certain this ad was the first I saw of the Firearm character. It’s certainly (to me) an "iconic" image–something far too lacking in modern comics! This title would be one featuring a "non-Ultra" dealing with a world of Ultras. Though I recognize James Robinson now by name, the name didn’t stand out whatsoever to me in 1993, where I barely knew creator names.

I like the continued "tag line" nature of text on the ad…this would be right at home on an ’80s/’90s action flick.

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This is the first of the house ads to 1. feature multiple titles and 2. be for something other than a #1 issue. I like the use of the single page to show off three titles. Not every issue needs a full page, but seeing the stuff at all puts it or keeps it "on the radar" as well as showing at least part of an image to be on the watch for, in terms of covers.

As with text on other ads, getting a "blurb" about the issues goes a long way in letting one know what to expect, to be "sold" on an issue along with having art from the cover(s).

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Genesis is not Ultraverse, but IS Malibu. I’m nearly certain this ad is what put most of these titles on my mental radar as a kid. To this day, I don’t think I’ve gotten all chapters of this Genesis story arc, but I’ve certainly meant to, and probably have several duplicates by way of getting issues when I’ve seen them in bargain bins.

Though this "line" went away not long after the Ultraverse hit, it’s one that I’ve contemplated digging into as a "finite universe" of issues. Whether I’ve known it in the past or not, I don’t consciously recall details about bringing these titles together as a group vs. the fresh launch of the Ultraverse, but that’s a topic I’ll surely research later for my own curiosity.

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Some things never change, and it’s interesting to me to see this "time capsule" bit of having to "pre-order" comics at a local shop to be able to get a copy.

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With only six covers displayed across the bottom of these pages, we’re missing the Hardcase cover. Not a huuuuge deal, but I would think with so few titles it could be worked in somewhere.

The "preview" of the Wrath character on this second page is interesting: at first glance I thought it was Marvel‘s Omega Red. I’m sure it’s the hair/color and the red/white color scheme. Also, this is from the ’90s, where many visual designs seemed to feed off each other as ‘trends’ and such.


And here we are–another "month" of Ultraverse books completed! Not many house ads this time around, and I noticed that none of the titles had an ad for The Solution, which also premieres in the September 1993 group with Firearm. I strongly suspect that is part of how I initially missed the title. The ads certainly helped cement the first issue covers as "iconic" for me, and so it’s odd that one title out of 8 or so got "left out."

NEXT WEEK: I’ll begin Month #4 of the Ultraverse with titles released for September 1993!

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Ultraverse Revisited: Early House Ads July 1993

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Here are house ads from the second month of the Ultraverse line: July 1993! We have two with dates, one without…and then the "Ultrafiles" pages which were all the same this month across all five titles.

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I’m pretty sure that this one for Prototype is my favorite of the month’s ads. There’s just something to the design of the armor that I really like, and I swear this scanned image doesn’t do the print version justice…there’s just something I really like about the coloring. And as with many ads for comics, I really, really like the fact that the promo image basically IS the cover of the first issue. This shows us the character, as well as the image to look for to get the actual comic itself!

Helpful as the "text boxes" may have been on the first round of ads, I find the "tagline" format to be more effective here, making the ad more of a poster image than something in a pamphlet.

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Fighting to Save Themselves From Mankind and Mankind From Itself. Another large-font, central sort of tagline for a new title. Exiles gave us another super-team (seemed the Ultraverse was full of those!) and definitely has a very ’90s look from the ad.

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Lacking both tagline AND text box, we have this add with some character and the small Rune logo serving almost as a signature, with the large-text format of Barry Windsor-Smith. This also lacked any date. So we had this image of something called Rune, associated with BWS, and based on other ads, one would only assume this was another title or such "coming soon."

Of course, years later, it’s interesting to look back on it, especially knowing that October 1993 became "Rune Month" with a 3-page story-chunk as flipbooks to the month’s issues, that collectively made up the contents to a Rune #0 issue, with coupons to send away for the standalone #0 issue as its own thing. But more on that in posts to come, as the house ads get closer to the ‘event’ itself.

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Where text was swapped out for the Ultrafiles pages to make them unique to each title in the June 1993 issues, for July 1993 they seemed to all be exactly the same, and show all 5 titles out for Ultraverse month #2. The first page (above) is the "Ultratorial #2."

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…while the second Ultrafiles page has quick quotes from the creators on the two new additions to the line: Freex and Mantra.

I really like these pages as a common piece across all titles, as well as the "checklist" of showing the covers of the month’s issues. And again, this was a time when the vast majority of comics DID only have one cover…or the "variant" was some sort of spot-coloring or foil in place of color or the presence or not of a UPC box. Not completely different art pieces!

Essentially, the issues thus showed off all of the current month’s titles, plus most of the  issues had full-page ads for the next month’s new series’ debuts. One would not even need the internet or such to know what they’re looking for in shops; one has what one needs from the actual single issue…NO "homework" required.

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Ultraverse Revisited: Early House Ads

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Here are several early "house ads" for the first few Ultraverse titles, plus the "Ultratorials" from Prime, Hardcase, and The Strangers #1s.

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For me, one of the most noticeable differences from ad to print with Prime was the title logo–the lower portion was removed, and the cover of the first issue features only the full, heroic Prime–not the two-stage transformative part next to it.

The text description sorta fits what I remember, in the "hype" sense, but doesn’t feel entirely accurate on the first issue in particular.

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This Strangers ad is the image for the first issue’s cover, and offhand seems like what was printed, albeit with some different coloring, perhaps. And with Malibu‘s coloring department (long-rumoured to have been why Marvel bought the company) it makes plenty of sense to me offhand that that would make for some simple changes, and the coloring (of the background) can make an image look at once familiar yet suitably different like this.

The text definitely fits, though sorta "gives away" the "lost city" bit…but had you asked me before looking at/reading this ad, I would have been able to tell you essentially the rest of it, just not "…with a sorceress from a lost city…"

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I feel like Hardcase was another logo that changed between ad and print, with a more "basic" and bigger/blockier design. This logo is familiar enough that I want to say it got used on later issues of the series.

This image is completely different from the first issue’s cover, though 25 years later, this would simply be a case of "I didn’t get the variant cover." I like the image in terms of the ad, but it would seem rather boring and "off" to me for what I recall of the first issue itself.

The text piece mostly gives the premise of the series, but I wonder (now) about the timing of stuff for what I recall of the character only having a year "off" from super heroics–is that really time to build a huge film career?

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I like this Freex ad–it’s the image I associate with the first issue, and I think I even have a poster of this. I prefer the text being part of the image, rather than a Microsoft Word "text box" dropped onto the image…it feels a lot more dynamic…and memorable!

I do notice a small "text box" but even that seems a bit fancier than the first three ads, and actually does NOT stand out so much. "Life’s tough when you’re a super-power freak."

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Mantra is another where the image from the first issue’s cover is used, which I definitely like!

The text box seems a bit much, with two ‘paragraphs’ of premise given…it makes it look a bit more complicated. Of course, I like that this info is provided, as it beats the heck outta just simply giving the image and saying "blindly buy me!" It also somewhat spoils developments in the first couple issues, and as I recall, technically "spoils" the first issue’s cliffhanger.

Additionally, for a "solo title," the cover makes it look like a bit of a team-up book, with Mantra and Warstrike fighting together, and possibly for the shadowy guy in the background (the villain Boneyard). The main character is the smallest figure on the image!

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Here’s the "Ultrafiles" page from Prime #1. While I the first part is the same across the several issues, the latter part is changed up to fit the specific issue, with small quotes from the creators of the specific issue.

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Here’s the page from Hardcase #1…

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…and here’s the page from Strangers #1.

Though I’ve been almost certain that Strangers had been the first of the titles out (granted, this was 25 years ago and I was a 12-year-old kid at the time), that its page showed the covers of the next month’s new #1s has me slightly doubtful.

Regardless, I appreciate that these pages were changed to fit the specific issue–they were not just a one-size-fits-all static thing inserted into each issue.

This is also from a time when the "primary" cover was what was marketed–not the variants. Variants existed–specifically full-cover holographic covers, and versions with silver foil logos–but they were not the marketed versions. They were special "additional" versions! The hologram images I’ve come to learn were actually different from the printed art; but the foil editions are the same exact cover, just with the bulk of the logo as silver foil. The hologram covers are extremely distinctive–you’d know EXACTLY what you’re looking at to see one; and otherwise, the marketing (like these pages and most of the house ads) show you exactly the cover image you’re looking for, on whichever series!

Two and one half decades later, and going through back-issue bins, one can immediately tell what issues are what and the (series) reading order and all that.

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Ads to Make Me Geek Out A Bit

I normally dislike or avoid ads as best I can…but I’m a LOT more "forgiving" of them in-print. Though both Marvel and DC seem to cram their comics full of ads, such that sometimes it seems every-other page is an ad or a double-page ad spread.

But this week, one ad in particular made me geek out, two others significantly impressed me, and another re-made a point to me of just why I so strongly "prefer" the standard/main/basic/A/most-non-variant cover an issue carries. These in just two comics! 


DC Universe: Rebirth – The Deluxe Edition

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I’ve been vaguely aware that this was coming up, but seeing the ad for it really made me geek out. DC Universe: Rebirth is easily one of the most KEY issues of my lifetime, and certainly of the last few years, for me. I started out grudgingly deciding I’d get the issue and wound up getting multiple copies to "support" the thing, a digital copy for immediacy, and a couple of the other prints for the squarebound format… but the issue is what truly, fully SOLD me on Rebirth and prompted me to go all-out on the initiative and dive in as I have…to say nothing of simply giving me a Superman experience driving me to the comic shop every single week for the latest on the character, after most of a decade of blah stuff.


DC Collectibles: Batman the Animated Series – The Batwing

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The "regular size" figures in this Batman the Animated Series line are too expensive for me…as I’m absolutely certain this Batwing toy is. But darnit, this thing looks really freaking cool, and if I had the space and money to throw presumably $100+ at it, I’d love to have it.

As-is, this is a fantastic ad, showing the toy, describing it with context as to its scale (more than three feet long and just over two feet wide and holds two action figures!). Adding the classic quote from the Tim Burton Batman film that was heavily influential on this series (particularly the theme music!) was an added touch.

Then there’s the way it melds the new/current DC logo with the classic tv series logo…


Action Comics #967 – Men of Steel

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I just like this image…seeing both Clark and Luthor doing The Shirt Rip, revealing each man’s Super-outfit. While there doesn’t seem to have been all that much with them clashing yet (a feeling I’m thankful for!), this re-ignites my interest on the matter. Having this Luthor interacting with this Superman is fantastic for conflict and character interaction, and I look forward to witnessing more of it for myself.

After having a story "restoring" Clark Kent to things, albeit with a twist; then another story "re-installing" Lois at The Daily Planet, it seems likely that this will re-catalyze the Superman/Luthor relationship in context of the current situation, giving both men reason to clash with the other, rather than either man’s "assumption" of who/what the other is.


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Didn’t Know Then What I Do Know Now

I “returned” to comics in 1992 based partly on an American Entertainment or Entertainment This Month catalog as well as a friend discovering a store that was just for comics (as opposed to a spinner rack in a bookstore or grocery store). 1992 ended with stuff like The Death of Superman, Batman: Sword of Azrael, Robin III: Cry of the Huntress, and Spider-Man 2099 (to name a few). Throughout 1993 I expanded into Marvel after Uncanny X-Men #300, followed the core Fatal Attractions event (at least to Wolverine #75)…and what had been a heavy dose of “dabbling in” comics became a truly actual “thing” for me, in my life.

By 1994, comics were my thing. I was primarily following the Superman and Batman books, as well as having gotten into Green Lantern (with Emerald Twilight and the introduction of Kyle) and a decent run with Archie‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.

But everything was pretty isolated within the given characters’ realms. I knew there was a shared universe (well, the TMNT were their own thing!) but I hadn’t ventured that far out into the deeper waters of continuity and the like.

So ads like the following were lost on me “in the moment” at original publication.

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I certainly was not “put off” by the ads or anything…but I didn’t know what this ad was for, as it didn’t directly/solely impact anything I was reading. Crisis on Infinite Earths was at best something that I had heard of and read about; and even including the time between my initial, brief run with comics in 1990-1991 and getting back into them in 1992, when this ad was new, I had barely–if even–5 years of “history” with contemporary comics.

So for me, there was no huge hype driving the pending crossover…and though I was aware of it and bought it and such, I don’t recall any particular anticipation for it.

I got the main Zero Hour series, and then basically “just” the tie-in issues in the Superman and Batman titles as well as Green Lantern–stuff that I was getting anyway.

That I’m finally getting around to reading the entirety of the crossover–the core series, the issues I’d read back then, plus all the other tie-ins I’m aware of/can find now–is something 22 years in the making.

Like my issue-by-issue covering of the original X-Men: Age of Apocalypse stuff… I’ll soon be launching into the Zero Hour equivalent.

As I stare down the barrel of a major change to my personal status quo–the largest such in nearly a decade–Zero Hour‘s tagline fits.

The end of today…

TMNT Revisited: The Ads of TMNT Adventures 1-4

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Full Post at TMNT Revisited

The Ads of TMNT Adventures #s 1-4

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