There are those heroes who are super and those who are wonders and maybe a couple of mighty ones. But what about those who are ultra? Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Ultramans!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and Zoffy, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN ULTRAMANS!
In a special issue celebrating Superman editor Julius Schwartz’ 70th birthday, we discover that on Earth-1 (the primary world of DC Comics at the time), Julie isn’t the successful comic book editor, but a homeless man living on the streets. He still had the same creative urges in this world that he did in ours, but reality kept one-upping his ideas: Night Wizard was scuttled by the appearance of Batman, Madame Miracle by Wonder Woman, and of course, his best character, Ultra-Man, bears a startling resemblance to the Man of Steel himself. Given that established DC Universe rules that state that Earth-Prime stories of the superheroes are just interdimensional echoes of other realities, I’m surprised Grant Morrison hasn’t revived Ultra-Man already.
One of at least a half dozen takes on evil Earth-3 Superman, this villain (real name unrevealed) is an astronaut who somehow flew through the remains of Krypton on a mission. In true backwards fashion, exposure to Kryptonite gives him additional powers, allowing him to become the most powerful force on his Earth, and the de facto leader of the Crime Syndicate. Though other Ultramans have been created in his image (including one starring in his own book as of this writing), this impossibly barrel-chested super was fatally consumed by antimatter during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
8) ULTRA MAN
Though the original adventures of the Legion of Super-Heroes already take place in the relative future, a grown Superman occasionally visited an even further future version of the team. Among their members was the grown-up Jo Nah, once known as Ultra Boy, now semi-retired and going by Ultra Man. His wife, the former Phantom Woman, has also retired… to take care of the kids (because 1961), while heroes like Brainiac 5, Lightning Man and Cosmic Man are still active. For many years, this reality was considered the canonical Legion future, until it was retconned to alternate reality status in 1983. It’s kind of a shame, as the balding, mustached Legionnaires are pretty charming, aside from the veiled sexism thing.
A super-genius with questionable morality, Ultra-Man was initially thought to be nothing more than a robot,. His final battle revealed that Ultra-Man was actually a sophisticated armor worn by Professor Clive Rumpole, who couldn’t be more British if he was named Leftenant Nigel Carruthers of the RAF. The arch-foe of The Avenger, he was accidentally electrocuted during one of their battles after falling into a swimming pool. The end of his enemy led to the end of The Avenger, who retired his mask after the villain’s demise, though I’m not sure if it’s due to “job well done” or “horrified at watching a man’s unspeakable end.” Potayto, potahto.
6) TITAN THE ULTRA MAN
While responding to a fire in a research lab, Marcus Cameron was engulfed in strange cosmic energies, empowering him with the ability to channel the power of the stars themselves. Creating his costume based on a favorite childhood superhero (who is seemingly a composite of pioneering Black heroes Black Lightning, Black Goliath and Power Man/Luke Cage), he is the most powerful superhuman in his world. He’s also estranged from his wife and children, in part due to the fame and women his celebrity brings him.
That costume is AMAZING.
Seemingly the last survivor of an alternate world where civilization sprung from Ionian philosophical traditions, Alcimus Vitruvius was thrown through a portal into a parallel reality. Able to absorb ambient radiation and channel it into a traditional Kryptonian-style power set, as well as gravikinesis, teleportation and more, UltraMan protected his new world as he would his own, even earning the status of UN Ambassador, thanks to his extra-dimensional nature. He is also a natural genius, with additional computing power built into the mechanisms of his costume. Because his native language is Latin-derived, the ‘V’ on his chest stands for UltraMan.
A scientist from the ’50s, Gary Concord Sr. was placed in suspended animation and awakened in the far-flung future year 2174. Somehow, his slumber gave him superhuman physical abilities, which he used to overthrow a terrible future dictator. After his death, The Ultra-Man’s son, Gary Concord Jr. inherited his powers and genius intellect, taking up the mantle of The Ultra-Man himself. indeed, it’s only through flashbacks in Gary Jr.’s first adventures that we learn of Gary Sr., who is already deceased by that time. #TimeTravelShenanigans Years later, at least one version of Gary Concord Jr. went through his own suspended animation journey, awakening in the 100th Century to revive the Ultra-Man name once more.
Fans of Big Bang Comics will know Colonel Chris Kelly, an astronaut who was exposed to a strange meteor which empowered him as the Ultimate Human Being. They will, however, know him as Ultiman, who exists on both Earth-A and Earth-B with slight deviations in costuming, age and powers. But half a decade earlier, Chris Kelly appeared as Ultraman, the father of the superhero Ultragirl in at least one issue of Megaton Comics. Sadly, my Megaton collection is spotty at best and, though I know Ultragirl appeared more than once as Megaton’s partner/girlfriend, I can’t tell you how often Ultraman appeared. I can, however, safely opine that the name change came about because of today’s #9 entry, who not only shares costume similarities with Colonel Kelly, but has a remarkably similar origin story.
After Jerry O’Connell was a chubby weirdo in ‘Stand By Me’, but before he became a heartthrob and married Rebecca Romijn, he took a starring role in syndicated dramedy ‘My Secret Identity.’ Andrew Clements, a teenager who accidentally got powers thanks to his friendship with an older inventor in a clear parallel to the popular ‘Back To The Future’ franchise, is also Ultraman! Or, at least, he was in the early episodes. By the end of the show, he had disposed of his nom de guerre, and I can’t find any evidence that he ever had a costume, but for a moment he was Canadia’s greatest superhero.
The first superhero to bear the name, Ultraman (sometimes differentiated from his brethren by the designation Original Ultraman or just plain Man) is an alien from the Land of Light who was accidentally bonded to the human, Shin Hayata. Shin then becomes able to call upon the body/powers of Ultraman to fight off giant monsters and alien invasions for 39 episodes. Though he left Earth for home at the end of the series, Original Ultraman spawned a multimedia franchise of Ultramen, including Ultraseven, Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Dyna, Ultraman Beth, Cool Ranch Ultraman, Acid Wash Ultraman and new Ultraman Ice with retsin.
This week’s topic, Ten Ultramans, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra for more Ten Things madness on Twitter! Or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, if only because Tsuburaya will give us a couple of new ones every year or so, like they have since 1992. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!