Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #123: Prime

The classic superhero Captain Marvel was once such a huge bestseller, it was doing better than Superman, causing DC Comics to sue Captain Marvel’s publishers for plagiarism, ignoring more blatant rip-offs in the process.  Despite the superficial similarities, Captain Marvel was a very different kind of hero.  He is, essentially, a child who with the utterance of a single magic word (“Shazam!”) transforms into an adult with superpowers.

There have been a few like him since then, such as Prime, who came around in 1993 as part of Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse line.

He’s the one in the front.

Prime was Kevin Green, a thirteen year old kid who, well, had puberty hit him in an odd way, I suppose.  Kevin could, as needed, create a “Prime” body around himself for a period.  The body would possess superhuman strength, resistance to injury, flight, and even some energy blasts.  There was just one hitch.  The body was temporary, and depending on how much Kevin used the powers would depend entirely on how long the body would last.  For instance, the concussive energy blasts would use up the body faster.  When the body was “finished,” it would melt away into a slimy pile of green gloop with a slime-covered Kevin in the middle of it.  Actually, despite appearances, Prime’s whole body was made of that gloop, so if, say, Prime’s cape was ripped off, it wasn’t really made of cloth, and Prime would ooze the green stuff from where the rip was.  The clothes were part of the body.

Sometimes it didn’t go so smoothly.

Prime was a creation of the Ultraverse line.  In point of fact, he was one of the first characters to appear in that line.  Malibu was looking to do its own superhero line once the founders of Image were able to separate themselves from a publishing agreement they had with Malibu and were able to go their own way.  As Image was billed as a new publisher created by comic book artists, Malibu initially advertised the Ultraverse as a place for comic book writers to show their stuff, and Prime was probably one of the bigger hits of the line, somewhere alongside previous Misplaced Hero Night Man.

Now, Prime bears an obvious resemblance to Captain Marvel, but the tone of the two characters was very different.  Captain Marvel (he is not named “Shazam”) may have been naive and innocent depending on the interpretation, but that was the extent of it.  Prime, on the other hand, had a crush on a classmate of Kevin’s.  The problem there is Prime looked like (and most people assumed he actually was) an adult, raising questions about pedophilia that he really didn’t want to answer due to the whole “secret identity” thing.  Prime was also rather impressionable in many ways.  Kevin may have subconsciously modeled Prime’s face after his own father’s, but he could, as needed, change the Prime body depending on his needs.  For example, he could create a version of Prime that could go into space.

Space Prime!

It also meant that when Prime met and assisted anti-hero type Firearm, Prime suddenly looked more like what a 13 year old in the 90s would assume a badass looked like with chains, long hair, and a facial scar similar to Firearm’s.

By the by, when an enemy slashed “Rogue Prime’s” chains, they also bled the green gloop.

When the Ultraverse had enough heroes for an all-star team, the Ultraforce, Prime was a prominent member throughout the team’s entire run.

The original Ultraforce team, as drawn by legendary superteam artist George Perez.

So, what happened to Prime?  Originally, in a series written by Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski and drawn by Norm Breyfogle, he had a fairly well-received series, popular enough for the Ultraverse line.  The end came when Marvel came onto the scene.

See, Marvel bought out Malibu, and initially continued to publish the Ultraverse line.  However, they made some changes.  After a massive event called “Black September,” the Ultraverse was a very different place.  Some heroes ceased to exist.  Others were changed in a big way.  There were a lot more crossover appearances by various Marvel heroes, though the reverse was never true and Ultraverse heroes did not appear in Marvel books.  The net result was the Ultraverse lost much of its charm and eventually was canceled entirely.  Marvel presumably still has the rights to these characters, but hasn’t really done anything with them.

As for Prime, well, one of his discarded bodies in its original form went rogue, but Kevin, impressionable kid that he was, was inspired by a Marvel hero he met and developed a new body necessary to defeat the rogue one.

Yeah, I can’t imagine why this might have taken away the character’s original charm.

I’m sure Jimmy Impossible will have plenty to say about this when his Spider-Man Chronology catches up.  As for me, well, the series was a lot more fun and original before Kevin put on something web-based.

2 thoughts on “Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #123: Prime

  1. Many, many years ago, the only actual submission I ever sent to a comic book company was for a Spider-Man (surprise)/Prime/Venom crossover. I wish I still had a copy of that now. I’m sure it was awful, but would be interesting to revisit it.

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