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Looking Back At Ultraverse's Live Action 'Video Comic Books'

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

An anonymous reader e-mailed me to suggest that I write about this and, well, sure, why not?

The early 1990s were a fascinating time in the world of comic books. Speculator-driven sales were so high that money was pouring into the industry as suddenly it sort of actually seemed to make sense to invest in a comic book company, since it seemed as though making comic books were like printing money. The key comic book company in all of this was probably Valiant Comics. It was one thing for Marvel and DC to succeed or even for Image Comics to succeed with taking the most popular artists from Marvel and giving them their own titles. However, Valiant Comics showed that there was a market out there for a Marvel Comics style universe that did not necessarily have Marvel Comics-level talent, popularity-wise. Valiant started out slowly, but by the end of 1992, they had a comic book debut with 500,000 in sales!

Malibu Comics were the original publishers of Image Comics, as the new company needed someone else to initially handle their publishing. When they struck out on their own, Malibu decided to follow the example of Valiant and create their own interconnected comic book universe. They had investors that allowed them to spend real money getting some talented comic book creators from Marvel and DC to create this new universe, thus "Ultraverse," along, of course, with the people who were already at Malibu Comics, like Tom Mason.

One of the ways that this new company used their initial influx of cash was to actually establish a "Malibu Films" division that would produce Ultraverse commercials that would air on television. The key figure here was Darren Doane.

The Ultraverse as a whole launched in 1993. One of their earlier titles (although not part of the initial launch) was Firearm, a comic book about a British private investigator in Los Angeles that used to be a super-agent (hence the "Firearm" codename) but now is trying to get far away from that life. Written by James Robinson and drawn mostly by Cully Hamner and John Lowe, it was possibly the best Ultraverse comic book in the entire line (it was certainly my favorite of the bunch)...

In an attempt to help launch/promote the series, Ultraverse then released a special #0 comic book. The deal here, though, was that the #0 would told across TWO media formats! There was a 35 minute film that would then lead into the #0 comic book (with art by Rob Haynes, Mike Wieringo and John Lowe). Robinson, of course, wrote the screenplay. It was directed by Darren Doane and it starred James Jude Courtney as Firearm. James Jude Courtney, of course, is in the news again since he will be playing Michael Myers in the new reboot of Halloween.

Here is the packaged comic book...

Since the format was VHS, it might be hard to watch it today (since you'd have to, you know, have access to a VHS player), but luckily for you, there are people online who like to upload this kind of thing, so read on to see Firearm and learn about the OTHER Ultraverse "movie"...

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