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Okay, to my own surprise, this is the next in my list of my "Accentuate the Positive" posts, and it features some of my least favourite art.... weird huh?

Anyway, this is from Malibu Comics Ultraverse, the comic company that Marvel don't like to talk about any more.

The Ultraverse started in the early 90's, with a slew of titles, some good, some not so good (IMHO of course) but had set up an interesting universe for itself. It was then bought up by Marvel Comics, who did a few crossovers which were forgettable or actively not good and no one likes to remember (and for good reason) and then the whole thing sort of got forgotten, which is a shame.

Quick recap... The Ultraverse started when a bolt of mysterious lightning hit a cable car in San Francisco in the present day. All 59 passengers on the car at that moment got powers of some sort or another, though not all triggered at the same time. As might be imagined, not everyone on any given cable car is a nice person, so we had a ready supply of heroes (most notably, The Strangers, whose members ranged from a superfast street kid (Zip-Zap), a fashion designer who gained perfect aim (and designed outfits to take advantage of that (Ladykiller) to an android sex toy that gained self awareness and decided it wanted to make a better life for herself (Electrocute, emphasis on the cute), and since this is San Francisco, there was at least one gay passenger, in this case a baker who gained powers a bit like Halo of the Outsiders, and burned with a variety of coloured flames each of which gave him different abilities (Spectral). But that's a post for another time...

When it was hit, the cable car struck a car, a car driven by one Johnny Domino (love that name), a professional saxophonist (Well, it makes a change from being a mercenary). He isn't hit by the lightning directly, but perhaps as a result of it, and a piece of shrapnel lodged in his brain, he gained the power to hear evil thoughts, or thoughts intending an evil outcome. He also lost the ability to sleep (though without some of the nastier side effects of sleep deprivation), and his eyes remained permanently dilated, meaning that his night vision was pretty much perfect, but anything brighter than starlight blinded him.

Knowing that he can't hear people plan evil without doing something about it, he became Night Man, a Batman-esque vigilante, but is still trying to work out what that means and what form his justice should take (I sort of like that, I like a hero who has to ponder his motivation and course of action at the outset). He even started making pirate radio broadcasts to the Bay area as he pondered these things... These days he'd probably have a facebook page and a podcast, but this was 1993.

His father, Eddie Domingo (Johnny changed his surname for professional reasons), who is aware of his sons activities as Night Man and is trying his best to help, was a former cop, who now worked as night security at Playland which in the Ultraverse is still running in the 90's rather than closing in the 1970's as it did in the real world.

And it's there our story starts, as a gang shooting takes place there. A young Korean American kid named Tommy is shot dead by his gang leader, and his girlfriend sees it all.

As I said, this is seriously 90's art, like Kelley Jones with a touch of Neil Vokes, but not quite getting either (It's by Kyle Hotz who apparently went on to do titles like Annihilation Conquest - Wraith, and Marvel MAX's Zombie)

But now for the cool bit....

Okay, that has me hooked instantly! I love a simple, weird, instantly memorable visual hook like this. As weird and memorable as the Origami Killer in Brave and the Bold! This is approaching urban legend material right there....

Eddie suggests that Jonny make Playland his base, there are plenty of unusued spaces where he can hide his Night Man gear, plenty of hidden utility tunnels under the park so he can come and go unseen, it's well located for getting to many parts of the city, and he DOES have an in with the security there.

Johnny ponders this whilst being slightly distracted by glimpses of a pale outline which moves by itself, but he chalks that up to his imagination.

Eventually he agrees to move in, and when he does he's confronted by what he'd only glimpsed before..

His gauntlet tasers have a slight effect, as hitting the edge makes it appear that what looks like chalk is some sort of weird energy, but it still has him on the ropes...

Given the appearance, and his father's recall of the recent shooting, Night Man investigates and discovers that the dead kid was Tommy Kwan, a former member of the Silver Daggers gang. Visiting Tommy's girlfriend, he finds out that Tommy had been on the cable car that day, and though he'd never manifested powers (Well, not until now), he had taken it as a sign to sort out his life and he'd quit the gang and started to turn his life around. Displeased with this, the gang leader Ken Wing had made the killshot personally.

Wing's men are watching the girlfriends place and decide that talking to the Night Man was something she's going to pay for with her life. Leaving, Night Man picks up that last thought and returns to protect her, where he find's himself fighting side by side with the chalk outline. After the goons have been dealt with, Chalk disappears like a chalk outline being wiped off a blackboard.

Now the only question remains what to do about Wing. He KNOWS he killed Tommy, but no one will testify against him either they're too scared or they didn't get a good enough view of him There IS a way to get justice, but it's not a pretty one.

So Night Man gets a message out, and arranges a meeting with Ken Wing at Playland. Wing is rather pleased with himself, he's free and clear on the murder (and he doesn't know Night Man can read minds)

The power of that moment is rather ruined by Night Man having a shoulder the size of a family dining table, but never mind...

I like that having delivered Ken Wing to the clutches of Chalk, he at least has the courtesy to stay to the end, to be aware of exactly what he has done by setting this up, but that night, on his broadcast, Night Man ponders if he did the right thing....

Date: 2012-05-07 03:30 am (UTC)
acton: (Default)
From: [personal profile] acton
Ultraverse! I'm not the only one who knows of this!

Anyone familiar with Firearm aka Alec Swan? He had a 20 some issue series which I really enjoyed. Written by James Robinson of Starman fame, I believe. Swan is a hardboiled British PI who hates superhumans, mostly because they make so much trouble. Though, he meets Nightman at one point and thinks him an okay guy despite being superhuman.

It's really a gem of a series, especially for the 90s.


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