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MALIBU TO LAUNCH "ULTRAVERSE" IN JUNE; NEW SUPER-HERO CHARACTERS CREATED BY UNPRECEDENTED TEAM OF WRITERS & ARTISTS, LARRY NIVEN

100 Comic Book Stores Nationwide Selected For Original Ultraverse
 Artwork Givewaway Contest; Malibu Films Division Created &
 Ambitious Ad Campaign Launched To Promote New Line
 LOS ANGELES, June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Representing the most significant creative event in recent comic book history, Malibu Comics this month will launch the Ultraverse, a unique line of original super-hero comics created by an unprecedented alliance of award-winning writers and artists and designed to appeal to comic book readers of the 90s and beyond.
 The announcement was made today by Scott Rosenberg, president of Malibu Comics, a leading comic book publisher which recently secured the coveted exclusive comic book rights to "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
 Ultraverse is an umbrella name and setting for an entirely new series of super-heroes who co-exist in the same fictional universe and frequently "cross over" to each other's comic books, a concept never before implemented on such a far-reaching and carefully planned scale.
 In addition, Ultraverse signals an extraordinary joining of forces between industry veterans responsible for such comics as "Superman," "Batman," "The Avengers," Green Lantern," "Defenders" and "Justice League of America."
 Among the members of the new Ultraverse team, headed by Malibu Comics' Editor-In-Chief Chris Ulm, are writers and artists who have been or are still associated with such publishers as Marvel and DC, but recognized this as a unique opportunity to help take the industry to an entirely new creative plateau.
 Included in this select group of comic book writers, most of whom have never worked together before, are Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science fiction author Larry Niven ("Ringworld"); James Hudnall ("Lex Luthor"); Mike W. Barr ("Star Trek," "Batman" and "The Outsiders"); Steve Englehart ("Batman"); Gerard Jones ("Guy Gardner" and "Justice League Europe"); Len Strazewski ("Justice Society of America"); and Steve Gerber ("She-Hulk"). The list of acclaimed Ultraverse artists includes Norm Breyfogle ("Batman"); Bret Blevins ("Sleepwalker"); Dave Gibbons ("Watchman"); Adam Hughes ("Star Trek: Debt of Honor"); Kevin Nowlan ("New Warriors"); Darick Robertson ("Wolverine"); and Walt Simonson ("The Fantastic Four").
 Ultraverse -- likely to also be launched in Europe shortly -- officially marks its debut this month with the release of three new comic book titles -- "Hardcase," "Prime" and "The Strangers" -- with eight more slated for the remainder of the year. The Ultraverse super-heroes include:
 -- Hardcase: The only surviving member of a crime-fighting group called The Squad, Hardcase (a.k.a. Tom Hawks) is a non-flying, non- indestructible super-hero living in Hollywood.
 -- Prime: Prime is the adult super-hero alter ego of a 13-year- old boy and deals with "the reality of violence on a kid raised on fantasy," according to co-writer Strazewski. Of special note: though appearing to be adult, Prime still thinks, feels and reacts like the 13-year-old boy he still is.
 -- The Strangers: This unique series is set in motion when an unknown energy blast hits a San Francisco cable car and endows all 59 people on board -- some good, some evil -- with a wide variety of special powers. Since the cable car incident is captured by a television news crew, none of the passengers affected can assume a secret identity.
 -- Mantra: This series revolves around knights who are reincarnated as male warriors each time they die. When Mantra begins, however, one of these warriors is instead reincarnated not only as a woman, but as a single mother with two children.
 -- Freex: This series involves five kids whose super-powers cause them to turn into a bizarre assortment of freakish characters.
 -- Exiles: Exiles centers around the survivors of a deadly, worldwide cutbreak of the "theta virus."
 -- Prototype: Prototype revolves around a "corporate super-hero" wrongfully treated by the corporation for which he has worked.
 -- Firearm: Firearm (a.k.a. Alexander Swan) is a West Coast private detective once with the CIA, who finds himself as a non- super-hero seeking super-villains.
 -- The Solution: This series deals with a team of troubleshooters whose super-hero activities take them into the realms of high-tech espionage, martial arts and magic.
 -- Nightman: A character indirectly affected by the same bolt of energy which sets "The Strangers" in motion, "Nightman" develops only one super power, but a vital one: the ability to "hear" evil thoughts and plans.
 -- Sludge: "Sludge" -- described as a "Vigilante who drips" -- concerns a somewhat corrupt cop who, gunned down and left for dead, accidentally becomes immersed in a sewer of radioactive sludge and emerges as a grotesque monster out for justice.
 Although comic book "universes" were attempted in the past -- most notably with the launch of the DC universe with "Superman" in 1938 and the Marvel universe with "The Fantastic Four" in 1961 -- they were invariably developed as the writers and artists went along. Malibu's Ultraverse, however, greatly differs from these earlier attempts as a result of very meticulous advance planning, which took place during marathon creative sessions last year in Scottsdale, Ariz. During these sessions, the Ultraverse creative team not only determined the narrative and artistic concepts behind many of the new super-hero characters, but developed a 200-page Ultraverse "bible" spelling out all of the new universe's origins, laws and related creative parameters.
 In support of Ultraverse's much-anticipated launch, Malibu Comics is mounting a precedent-setting, $1,000,000 national advertising campaign entailing national television ads on MTV/VH-1, Nickelodeon, the USA Network, the Sci-Fi Channel and the Cartoon Network. In addition, the company has placed ads on bus stop benches around the country and will promote Ultraverse in a number of magazines as well. As a result, Malibu Comics is becoming the first comic book publisher to launch a new line with a national advertising campaign.
 In addition, special in-store events will soon be staged nationwide whereby limited edition issues of initial Ultraverse titles, as well as original artwork -- normally designated for auction -- will be given away to contest winners.
 Also in support of the launch of Ultraverse, Malibu Comics is undertaking an aggressive national promotional campaign and has joined forces with licensee SkyBox to release special trading cards based on the new line. A wide variety of video game, toy and other merchandising opportunities are also being explored.
 Furthermore, on behalf of Ultraverse, Malibu Comics has just launched the Malibu Films division. Marking an industry first, the new division is producing short "Real Comics" films based on Ultraverse characters which will be utilized for promotional purposes within the industry and will also be made available for viewing in comic book retail stores nationwide. The first "Real Comics" production, based on the debut Ultraverse title, "Hardcase," stars British actor and martial arts champion Gary Daniels. A new 30-minute video based on the forthcoming Ultraverse hero, "Firearm," is currently in production.
 Malibu Comics is the only comic book publisher represented by a Hollywood talent agency (ICM). Beyond its regular activities on behalf of Malibu, ICM will be exploring film and television opportunities based on Ultraverse characters as well.
 Malibu Comics, which publishes comic books spanning the stylistic gamut from science fiction and fantasy to humor and film adaptations, is a division of the privately held Malibu Comics Entertainment, which is also composed of Malibu Interactive, a prominent creator and developer of video games, including "Batman Returns."
 -0- 6/14/93
 /CONTACT: Peter Berk, 213-965-1990, or Hali Simon, 212-986-7080, both of The Lippin Group for Malibu Comics/


CO: Malibu Comics ST: California IN: PUB SU: PDT

LS-JB -- LA001 -- 1575 06/14/93 11:04 EST
COPYRIGHT 1993 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Date:Jun 14, 1993
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