Ultra leaps into action. Artist: Lee Elias.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1965
Creators: Dave Wood (writer) and Lee Elias (artist)
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In the early 1960s, DC Comics had superheroes of every imaginable type. The Atom could …

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… shrink to sub-atomic size. Elongated Man could stretch his body into any shape. Aquaman could live underwater and order fish around. Needless to say, by the middle of the decade the company was scraping the bottom of the barrel for new superhero concepts. That's when writer Dave Wood (Sky Masters, Dial H for Hero) and artist Lee Elias (The Black Cat, Beyond Mars) came up with Ultra the Multi-Alien.

Ultra (no relation) was originally spaceman Ace Arn, resident of an unspecified future era in which interplanetary travel had become commonplace. As a result of an accident that was improbable even by superhero standards, Ace's body was transformed into an amalgamation of four different species of alien. The upper part was divided into green on the right (from an alien with super strength, so that arm was amazingly strong) and blue on the left (from an alien with magnetic powers). Below the waist, one foot was a bird's claw, with a single tiny wing on the heel, enabling him, inexplicably, to fly. The other leg was a bolt of lightning. He got his name by combining the initials of the four hitherto unheard-of planets the aliens came from, and adding his own initial at the end.

He was bothered by having become an ugly freak, but quickly found social acceptance by using his great powers for the good of humanity, righting wrongs from Mercury to Pluto. And it wasn't long before he got himself a "hyper-converter disc" capable of restoring his human form. After that, he easily went back and forth simply by fiddling with a control on his belt, and was even able to re-establish a relationship with his girlfriend, Bonnie Blake, tho that didn't stop him from whining about his life having been ruined by becoming a superhero.

Ultra first appeared in Mystery in Space #103 (July, 1965), displacing Adam Strange, who had been the title's main star since 1959, and Space Ranger, who had transferred there from Tales of the Unexpected a little more than a year earlier. Mystery in Space ended with its 110th issue (September, 1966), and Ultra's series ended with it. With only eight stories published, he would have been long forgotten, if the whole idea behind him hadn't been so memorably bottom-of-the-barrel.


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