TITLE: The Strangers vol. 1, Issue 1
YEAR: June 1993
COMPANY: Ultraverse/Malibu Comics
Author: Steve Englehart
Penciller: Rick Hoberg
Letterer: Tim Eldred
Inker: Tim Burgard
Editor: Chris Ulm
Color Design: Paul Mounts
When Ultraverse was unleashed to the public, I was one of the fans who were captivated by the storyline, the characters and the whole universe.
If Freex were the outsiders who were living in constant fear and formed a team out of necessity and became stronger as a unit, The Strangers were a group of people who share a bond because of an incident and became a superhero team.
A series that ran for 24-issues (author Steve Englehart’s website features 27 issues, but I’m guessing three of them were not released because of the Marvel acquisition of Malibu Comics) with one annual issue (a two-parter with the series “Nightman”).
“The Strangers” is set in San Francisco and in June 1993, a cable car full with people is struck by a lightning bolt and crashes into car driven by musician Johnny Domino (who later becomes the superhero known as “Night Man”).
Not long after the incident, people inside the cable car noticed they have developed new abilities.
The first to discover their abilities were Bob Hardin (an art student) who finds out he can rearrange matter on the molecular or atomic levels and his friend and also an art student, Hugh Fox, who has the ability to fire explosive blasts.
Elena La Brava (a fashion designer) has amazing tracking ability and can uses any object and hit a target easily.
Dave Castiglone (a baker) starts to heat up and notices he can change into different color of flames giving him a variety of special abilities.
Meanwhile, young teen, Leon Balford is told by people in his neighborhood to watch out for cops and when Leon resists, he realizes he is running at super quick speed.
Meanwhile, a female android named Candy who is an expensive sex toy for billionaire J.D. Hunt has gone missing and he wants her back at all costs. When she was inside the cable car, she developed sentience.
When everyone gathers at the location of the accident, they all discuss the powers they received but immediately, the group takes on a woman flying (and is unable to communicate with them). She immediately begins attacking and the group team up to go against her.
As the first issue deals with the group noticing their powers, they eventually become a group and have their own code names.
The series was no doubt fresh because these people were from different backgrounds in life and also incorporated settings that you never expected to see in a comic book such as a hero who reveals himself to be gay. Immediately with the first issue, we learn that Candy is a glorified sex toy for billionaire, J.D. Hunt, who becomes the group’s antagonist.
And of course, because there were many others in the cable car when it was struck, it is not known how many people became hero’s or villains when they discovered their new abilities. So, storyline potential was strong in terms of introducing more characters or villains.
The only thing I could do without is Hugh sporting the mid-rift t-shirt and bicycle pants. Sure, it may have been cool for the early ’90s but that is probably one fashion trend that I wish I could forget.
If there is one thing that bothers me about the Ultraverse comic books is that there were no proper sendoff. No major ending. No closure after Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics. Marvel tried to run with it and incorporate the characters to the Marvel Universe (which I couldn’t get into) and just the combination of the two universes did nothing but phase out the Ultraverse to oblivion.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a solid superhero story from the ’90s and probably can find a lot of the entire series on eBay, definitely give “The Strangers” a try!