TITLE: Rune vol. 1, Issue #1
YEAR: January 1994
Writer: Barry Windsor Smith & Chris Ulm
Drawn by Barry Windsor Smith
Inker: Alex Bialy & John Floyd
Letterer: Patrick OwsleyGail Beckett
Colored by Keith Conroy & Barry Windsor Smith
Computer Colored by Jennifer Schellinger
Rune Created by Barry Windsor Smith & Chris Ulm
For the Ultraverse, Malibu Comics went promotion-heavy with the announcement that Barry Windsor Smith had created a character, a monstrous villain known as Rune.
This was significant back in the early ’90s because Barry Windsor Smith was known for being one of the main people behind the surge of Valiant Comic’s popularity during the early ’90s, until the company started to implement “Work-for-Hire” practices which he had a true disdain when he worked at Marvel Comics (best known for his work on the “Conan the Barbarian” series).
While Barry Windsor Smith no doubt captivated the attention of many for word that he would be be creating a character and working on a Ultraverse Comic Book series, one couldn’t help how this would all work out. And in the end, it really didn’t work out as Marvel would take over Ultraverse several months later.
For those not familiar with Rune, the character is an alien who acquired Star Stones which made him immortal but the alien was cursed in a monstrous form that made him feed on blood and humans. He was stranded on Earth and worshiped either as a god or demon, but now he is after various teenagers.
The first issue begins with a young guy named Erik Johnson having a nightmare of a demon, a nightmare that he has had consistent for a while. But immediately, Rune, crashes into his bedroom. Rune tells the young man that he must kill him, so that he can live.
As his parents hear him screaming, as they come in, Rune begins feeding on Erik’s father and as Erik tries to help his father and fight with Rune, immediately a power comes out of Erik and sends Rune flying out of the house. Meanwhile, Erik and his mother are devastated about what had transpired. Meanwhile Rune is trapped in telephone lines and is out of it.
Rune is then taken by a government agency and General Rayder has his scientists working on Rune, while General Rayder wonders why Rune was after Erik Johnson. Meanwhile as Rayder works on assimilating Rune, another teenager in New York is visited by a group of men and this young man named Noel Robinson looks exactly like Erik Johnson, including his parents. and Erik’s parents.
But when the government informs General Rayder that they picked up the boy, he is shocked because he gave no such order. And the experiment on Rune goes haywire.
If anything, the first issue of “Rune” shows promises of a dark series within the Ultraverse but at the same time, how people would like the series because it was more about a demon-like villain, wasn’t so appealing and if anyone did jump in on issue #1, it’s the fact that Barry Windsor Smith, who left Valiant, was now at Ultraverse and that would mean Malibu were on to bigger and better things.
But with Marvel acquiring Ultraverse, Barry Windsor Smith saw the writing on the wall and left the company after legal ownership issues and with several unpublished issues of “Rune” and Marvel having a Rune vs. Silver Surfer issue, I pretty much gave up with this series and realized it had potential but like all titles that were acquired by Marvel Comics, for diehard Ultraverse, the change was too much and for me, the series was not worth following.
I see Barry Windsor Smith and Chris Ulm’s “Rune” as a series with possibilities but also wasted potential.