Tuesday, 31 May 2016


From Autumn 1995... When Worlds Collide: Marvel merges the MALIBU ULTRAVERSE.

Malibu had been knocking around for a few years publishing under a variety of imprints (including Eternity and Adventure) when they were unexpectedly thrust into the big time when they signed-up to provide professional services for the launch year of Image Comics. That arrangement didn't last long but once Malibu realised that the market for alternative superhero books was booming, they decided they wanted to hang into their slipped of the action.

The result was the ULTRAVERSE, a made-for-the-mainstream new universe which dodged the issue of all the top artists either defecting to Image or signing exclusive contracts with the existing publishers by being a "writer's universe".

The line encountered some early success and even signed some pretty impressive media deals (for the NIGHT MAN live-action show and ULTRAFORCE cartoon) but started to struggle when the industry plunged into recession in late 1993. The owners looked for a White Knight buyer and came very close to brokering a deal with DC Comics. Marvel got wind of the deal and feared the deal would catapult their rival to the top in
terms of market share. That put their share price under threat and the whole highly leveraged house of cards in danger of collapse.

So they swooped in and snapped up their one time rival (DC swallowed Wildstorm instead) and soon went about cutting cost out of their West Coast operation and integrated the spoils of their conquest with the existing Marvel line. The results were Black September and the New World Order reboot.

The move was not a hit with fans of either line and Marvel, mired in financial problems, soon shuttered the whole Ultraverse operation (but not before using the Malibu tie-up to secure a new licencing deal with Paramount Pictures through their Trek license). Fuzzy ownership, and financial penalties, have placed the characters out-of-bounds ever since.

This scans are from a shop giveaway published by Marvel to promote the reboot,


  1. as well as the recent TRANCERS comic, a new cd has also been released :


    1. the mother of all cross-overs :


    2. I'm sure this will be a must-read But it does seem a shame to undermine the uniqueness of each property by trying to squish them into one shared universe. The presence of giant robots never sat that well with GI JOE except for the initial novelty of seeing them together.

  2. Ed, Just wanted to point you to my response to your Star Wars Adventures query under Holocron #3 blog entry in case you missed it. There I said:


    The strips in Star Wars Adventures were reprints when I last looked about a month ago. Egmont were in a holding pattern in light of the new films.

    Egmont's other SW titles--Rebels and Lego--feature new strips (or at least they are new to the UK, I'd guess they may be enjoying a broadly concurrent printing in Europe).

    1. Congratulations. What a cool job.

      How many different STAR WARS COMICS are there now? It seems like a lot.

      Just to add to the mix: the new version of the RETURN OF THE JEDI adaptation hit WHS yesterday... to be followed by THE PHANTOM MENACE next month. It seems there is no such thing as an exclusive license anymore as several publishers have a piece of the action.

  3. thanks krusty, I did actually miss your post there.

    yes I came across your name quite a few times during my back issue trawl.

    so cool to think that one of our regulars here has written for star wars !

  4. Latest issue of Dr Who Adventures is written by me too, if you're interested ...

  5. There was also a now-discredited story that proliferated for many years that Marvel were after Malibu's computer colouring system. Marvel had a history of computer colouring beforehand (the Epic reprints of Akira spring to mind).

    With their outsourced colour operations in Ireland being swamped occasionally by the (unsustainable) glut of titles they put out in the mid-1990s, this story did gain a bit of traction at the time.

    For more of the real facts to support Slow Robot's post above, you can check here:


    1. I seem to recall that was the explanation Marvel put about at the time of the purchase. It never held much water because - surely - the cheaper option would have been just to poach someone with extensive knowledge of the Malibu infrastructure and reproduce it for Marvel.

      Market share, the share price, Wall Street perceptions, keeping DC off the top slot, removing a competitor and Hollywood access (Malibu had, after all, sealed several TV deals... something that Marvel had frequently struggled to do until the ex boss of Marvel Productions had landed the job heading up Fox Kids and become a buyer of Marvel product) are all far more plausible.


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