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Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Ultraverse Premiere series.
For the newcomers reading this, Ultraverse Premiere was a series of comic books published by Malibu Comics that showcased several tales of the Ultraverse and its characters. These stories were made to expand the lore of the UV, emphasize key characters and give fans a lot of content to enjoy. Certain issues of Ultraverse Premiere served as flip comic books which are thick (a lot more than the normal 32 pages) and allow you to read Ultraverse Premiere tales on side and read another UV comic book on the other side. The Ultravere Premiere comic book I am about to review here had The Strangers #13 on its flip side.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Ultraverse Premiere #4, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with stories written by Len Strazewski and Kurt Busiek, and drawn by Frank Gomez and Kris Renkewitz.
Story 1 – the story begins with Prime making several appearances protecting innocent people from gangs, muggers, thieves and natural disasters. Specifically, his presence is making an impact on the lives of many neighborhoods and its people.
Sometime later, inside a private facility, the figure identified as Prime turns out to be fake and was designed as a human-shaped suit that was piloted inside by Sy Bernstein. He is personally determined to make an impact on crime in his local community with the fake Prime as his main tool.
Story 2 – the story begins with Lady Killer privately viewing a cartoon preview based on her team – The Strangers – with an executive of Imagine-Arts. Shortly after, Lady Killer meets with more executives of the said company and she is told that Imagine-Arts and Labrava Company (Lady Killer’s own enterprise) make a business deal match and they offer to buy her out. Lady Killer tells them that her company and herself are not for sale…
As far as storytelling goes, this comic book’s two tales succeeded in expanding the lore of the Ultraverse through Prime (as a figure to certain members of the public) and Lady Killer, the leader of The Strangers. The Prime-related story offers a nice take on one small part of the Ultraverse that deals with a local community tainted with crime and how Prime’s influence on the ordinary people impacts the said community in varied ways. Of course, these are all executed not with Prime/Kevin Green himself but rather with someone who happens to have the means to pose as Prime and pretend to be the ultrahero himself. Having read a lot of the adventures of the real Prime, this Prime tale is a really nice take although I should say that the art by Frank Gomez has that very rough look all throughout.
The second story meanwhile is an interesting side-story of The Strangers specifically limited to Lady Killer. She gets into business talk with one company which only leads to an intriguing turn of events which creatively emphasizes capitalism to be corrupt and twisted. In some ways, the anti-corporate theme of the story overshadows the plot itself and as the story progressed, Lady Killer slightly becomes less relevant. To be fair to the creative team, this side-story happens to be the first portion of a storyline that involves J.D. Hunt. To say the least, this tale is worth reading even though its protagonist lost some relevance due to a plot twist that started before reaching the end.
Ultraverse Premiere #4 (1994) indeed carries enough entertainment and literary value on its two UV tales alone. Just consider The Strangers #13 as a notable additive thanks to the flip side feature. Prime fans will most likely be intrigued and even entertained with the first story while The Strangers fans might end up dissatisfied with the story centered on Lady Killer not because it is the first chapter of a multi-part story but more on its storytelling quality. At least the art of the Lady Killer tale done by Kris Renkewitz is good to look at.
Overall, Ultraverse Premiere #4 (1994) is recommended.
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