When we last saw Ultraman in MEGATON #1, it was 1983. He had been supercharged when the radioactive meteor that gave him his powers exploded, and he was wandering in a mindless rage. His teen-age daughter Christie had gained super powers in the same blast, and had adopted the name ULTRAGIRL, and was about to confront the monster when she realized it was actually her father.
Fast forward to 1987 – – actually, it was kind of a long slow crawl before the story was continued in MEGATON #7. Here’s what happened.
MEGATON #1 was a 64 page book, full of the best aspiring comic book artists I could find. Unfortunately for me (but good for them) half of the artists moved on to the big time after issue #1, including Butch Guice who became the artist on Marvel Comics’ MICRONAUTS. Mike Gustovich also moved on to Marvel as well as being busy with his own JUSTICE MACHINE, and Dan Reed had graduated to Marvel UK.
Bill Reinhold was set to replace Mike Gustovich on MEGATON, but landed Mike Baron’s BADGER and wisely did that instead. Clarke Hawbaker drew the MEGATON story for issue #2 and then headed off for the greener pastures of Malibu Comics, Continuity Studios and eventually, Marvel’s NOMAD.
Anyway, in the middle of all this I managed to rupture a disc in my back. I was laid up for a few months until one brilliant doctor diagnosed it as sciatica instead of leg cramping, and then it was off to surgery and recovery.
I was finally healthy again, but VANGUARD artist Erik Larsen had moved on to AmeriComics, Eclipse and then DC. I was still paying slave wages, and the erratic publishing schedule didn’t help in building a fan base. Neither did the burgeoning market for independent comics, the B&W Explosion that flooded the market and comic shop shelves, and the implosion that followed, with all the distributors except Diamond dropping like flies.
But in late 1986, things were still looking up for Megaton Comics. I had decided to concentrate mainly on MEGATON himself and let the other characters slide, and with issue #5 we dropped from 64 and 48 pages to a standard 32 page book.
We had a good base of new, young artists: Steve Adams (runner-up in Marvel Comics’ TRY-OUT contest), John Thompson, a young kid named Rob Liefeld, the wonderful veteran Richard “Grass” Green, and the new regular MEGATON artist, Gary Thomas Washington.
MEGATON # 7 found our titular hero flying through the Rocky Mountains, looking for the home of ULTRAMAN, who was going to show him the ropes of the super hero game. But when he arrived the place was a shambles, and Matt Scott found himself on the losing end of a one-sided battle to an embarrassed Christie Kelly – aka ULTRAGIRL, who had been a big fan of Matt in his pop idol days.
Christie clued Matt in on what had transpired (recapping issue #1) and the duo set off to confront the thing that had once been ULTRAMAN. Once there, Matt knocked some sense into U-man, who regained his senses and found himself under attack by a guy in a red uniform. He makes quick work of MEGATON before being attacked by ULTRAGIRL. He recognizes her as his daughter, but then his body starts absorbing the power of the meteor from her body, draining it along with her life force.
MEGATON talks some sense into him, and Kelly realizes what he was doing. Supercharged even more than before, Chris Kelly runs off and goes super-nova, expending all of his energy, which is absorbed by his daughter. The former ULTRAMAN reappears, shrunken and emaciated, but the second he approaches Christie, his body begins to leech the energy from her again, against his will. With the meteor destroyed, she is the only source of energy left and his body craves it. Chris Kelly walks off into the sunset, urging MEGATON to tell Christie that her father is dead; he can never see her again because he may not have the strength to spare her again.
Butch Guice was back to provide the cover to MEGATON #7, bridging the gap between #1 and #7. There was a nice ULTRAGIRL back-up story drawn by John Thompson and Mike Matthew that tied up loose ends and set the stage for the direction of the characters and the book. MEGATON and ULTRAGIRL returned in MEGATON #8 and the MEGATON X-MAS SPECIAL, but that was the end of ULTRAMAN. Almost.
He appeared only one more time, in the MEGATON EXPLOSION, a four color Who’s Who promo comic to herald the expansion of Megaton Comics to a full line of four color comic: MEGATON, VANGUARD, ETHRIAN, RAMM, WILDMAN and Rob Liefeld’s YOUNGBLOOD. (For a look at the EXPLOSION and the individual heroes, visit my MEGATON website at www.megatoncomics.com).
Of the bunch, only two issues each of the b&w RAMM & WILDMAN comics were published. MEGATON and YOUNGBLOOD received pre-orders of about 1,200 copies, too few for 4-color titles. (Only a few years later, a revamped YOUNGBLOOD sold over a million copies at Image Comics.) I finally threw in the towel and told everybody to stop working. MEGATON COMICS was kaput.
Gary Carlson 1/23/2016