Tag Archives: Hardcase

Ultraverse: Ragnarok


Hello, Legions of the Unspoken!  It’s been a bit since Ol’ Dean Compton has been able to celebrate the greatness of 90’s comics with y’all, but life has been getting in the way.  Hopefully things are starting to calm down and I can get here a lot more often.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be calming down anytime soon is the public’s hunger for superhero movies, especially Marvel movies.  The Cinematic Universe has excited the public in a way that very few other movie franchises seem to be doing these days.  Black Panther has taken the world by storm, and it’s very, very good!  The movie that preceded it, though, Thor: Ragnarok, had a very neato tidbit that’d get a 90’s comic book fan as excited as a puppy in a dog park.

One of the most beloved of the many universes, and maybe the most beloved, that popped up in the 90’s was the Ultraverse.  Malibu’s big swing for the fences wound up coming up short, but for a while prior to the Marvel purchase, the little company that could on the left coast was spitting out fascinating ideas faster than seeds at a watermelon eating contest.  One of those ideas seems to have shown up in Thor:  Ragnarok, and her name is Topaz.



While this Topaz looks decidedly different from the Ultraverse’s Topaz, the similarities are fairly shocking and vastly outweigh the differences.

Yeah, the similarities don’t just jump out at you when you look at two pictures next to each other.

Topaz was an integral member of UltraForce who used a power staff to keep her enemies in line.  She is a warrior-queen from a matriarchal realm, and she’s pretty female supremacist.  Now I know that’s gonna float some boats for some fellas reading this, but it was also fun watching her attempt to learn how to integrate into a male-dominated society in UltraForce.  She used a power staff to deal with threats, and she got caught up in a big cosmic scuffle featuring The Avengers, Thor, and…The Grandmaster.  Sound like the Topaz from the movie a little.  TRY A LOT.

UltraForce & Avengers 01_au-01-00
Loki on this cover looks like a kid who just figured out how to steal some cookies without his parents knowing.
UltraForce & Avengers 02_ua-01-00
Loki being involved in this shindig with the Grandmaster, UltraForce, and the Avengers just further cements my belief that this Topaz is indeed the Topaz in Thor:  Ragnarok.   Also, these covers are awesome, but confusing.  They’re nowhere near as confusing as the actual story though, which is fucking saying something, amirite?

Topaz is one of the central characters in the UltraForce/Avengers crossover, which has a lot of dealings with The Grandmaster.  Sound familiar?  In the movie, she’s the right-hand woman of the Grandmaster, and she fights Thor.  In the UltraForce/Avengers crossover, she teams with Siren to take on Crystal and Black Widow as part of the game between Grandmaster and Loki.  There’s never a huge Avengers vs. UltraForce showdown, as the crossover mostly follows the “heroes meet, fight, realize they are on the same side/being manipulated, team up against the threat, and then look really cool doing it” template.


UltraForce & Avengers 02_ua-01-34
George Perez is the fucking man.

But the really important thing about Topaz right now isn’t her history, although as I said, she’s fun in UltraForce, and her debut in Giant-Size Mantra #1 is pretty awesome too.  It’s the fact that Ultraverse fans like myself have been waiting for Marvel and Disney to do something with this dormant universe for way too long.  The Ultraverse was full of fantastic ideas and amazing characters, and it was created by a group of some of the best writers in comic books.  The universe was shepherded well by Chris Ulm, Tom Mason, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg so that everything felt important and needed.  You never knew when something small would happen and it would balloon into something huge.  Until the Valiant relaunch, it was easily the best universe created since the Marvel Universe.

For about 20 years, Ultraverse fans waited and waited for any sign of life from the Ultraverse.  There would be rumors, rumors of rumors, and Joe Quesada flat out saying that these characters would never see the light of day again.  Ultraverse fans like myself finally have a ray of hope with Topaz showing up in this movie.  Will Prime return?  Hardcase?  Firearm?  The Solution?  Will they get their own comics back?  Maybe a Netflix show?  I know the 90’s kids who loved The Strangers and Sludge sure hope so!  Here’s to seeing a lot more Ultraverse characters in the comics, on TV, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe very, very soon!

The Future of Comics Is Now

Greeting, Legions of the Unspoken! Emily Scott here, hoping you enjoyed our Six Weeks of Punishment! I would say I hope you also enjoy the new season of Daredevil, but most everyone probably binge watched the entire thing the first weekend it was out, right? Yes, in many ways, comic book fans (or at least fans of comic book characters) have it pretty darn good these days. It’s amazing how quickly we can take for granted the beauty of being able to stream not just a superhero television show, but many superhero shows directly into our homes or on our phones any time we want. There was a time not very long ago that such an idea would have seemed as ludicrous as the suggestion that someday a lot of us would be tired of how many Spider-Man movies there are.

That time was 1994. So strap on your rollerblades, grab your skateboards, and get ready for things to get extreme as we take a little trip down the Information Superhighway, courtesy of this article by Mike Stokes from Hero Illustrated #13, the July issue. Ah, July of 1994, a time when Kurt Cobain’s death still felt fresh, The Crow had just surprised a lot of people at the box office, and the entire comic book industry, like all industries, contemplated how new digital technology could best be used to their advantage. While some of the things that have come to pass, like the advent and ubiquity of smartphones, couldn’t really have been predicted, credit where it’s due – these guys got a lot of things spot on. Except for CD-ROMs. We were all wrong about CD- ROMs.

Brandon Lee died 23 years ago today. The goth adolescent in me is still not really over it.
Neil Gaiman’s not the only one hip to the way it’s going. If you’d like to see what his Pneumatic Man idea evolved into, some super awesome person was thoughtful enough to write an article about it.
It’s good to know my memory hasn’t exaggerated just how much the media tried to push the idea that the whole world would be on CD-ROM someday. I remember that much more clearly than I remember actually using CD-ROMs.
Ah, the heady days of the mid 90s, when the idea of needing a smartphone while sitting on the toilet wasn’t even a glint in our eyes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip back to 1994! I’ll be back later this month with a look at Man-Thing. (If you’re lucky, maybe I’ll make a CD-ROM for my article.)