Can The Ultraverse Be Saved?

It might surprise you to know that I'm kind of a fan of Mantra. No, really! ( don't seem surprised. I wonder what tipped you off? <grin>) Well, that also extends to the Ultraverse in general...personally, I think that some of the Ultraverse books were hands-down some of the best superhero books ever written. So, naturally, I fully support any effort to bring them back. Which begs the question: Can Mantra (and the rest of the Ultraverse) be saved?

I've already got a page on the site describing to the rise and fall of the Ultraverse, so I'll forego repeating the background. Suffice to say that the Ultraverse started off not only as a line of comics, but as a great experiment in what can happen if you give creative people free reign to do what they do best. At Malibu, the Ultraverse "founding fathers" were given tremendous control over their characters, and it paid off. It seemed that almost every series--every character--was written with a passion seldom seen before in comics. The stories were accessible to new readers, but were still a lot of fun for long-time fans, as well. And most importantly, they made the stories FUN.

So what went wrong?

In a word, Marvel. If the situation at Malibu proved what heights could be attained if creativity is encouraged, the situation at Marvel showed us the depths that could be reached when it is suppressed. The creators cared about their characters; Marvel cares about selling merchandise. Interesting and innovative characters like Mantra were thrown out the window if they couldn't be made to conform with Marvel's "mainstream" sensibilities. (A heroine who used to be a man? Horrors!) Books were canceled; pointless crossovers with Marvel characters were foisted upon the Ultraverse. And Mantra? Mantra was replaced with a bland, two-dimensional retread of a character. To confound matters further, the ownership of the characters was thrown into murky waters...the creators said they owned the rights to their creations; Marvel claimed it had the rights to the characters. The matter was turned over for the courts to decide.

So what can we do? First, realize the situation isn't hopeless. Petitions and letter-writing campaigns do work, and can serve to educate Marvel that yes, there is a market for a character like Mantra. (And if you haven't already done so, be sure to check out the petition on the Ultraverse: A New Twist page and sign it. It's a great place to start.) And don't get discouraged thinking "oh, they're too big...they won't listen." Remember, we're not trying to change the course of society--we're trying to bring back a comic book. A few hundred signatures is impressive. But a few hundred notes and letters is overwhelming. So don't just sign your name to the petition...take five minutes write a few sentences telling them what you miss, what you'd like to see. Help Marvel to understand that their readership isn't just a bunch of preadolescent teenage boys who want to look at the pretty pictures.

These aren't just fanciful dreams. My other web site (the TGFA) gets thousands of hits a week. Larger sites like Fictionmania get even more in the same time frame. This is a lot of people, folks. Even a small gesture like signing your name to a list can add up fast with these kinds of numbers. But ultimately, it doesn't amount to much each individual person does something, even if it's just signing your name to a petition, or writing a short note.

So look at it this way: Would you like to see Mantra or the Ultraverse return? Yes? Then what are you going to do about it?

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