"INFIDEL! My lord Al Ghul leaves the chamber FIRST!"
As first impressions go, Ubu made a doozy, shoving The Batman to one
side when the Dark Knight showed signs of exiting the Batcave ahead of his
new would-be partner Ra's Al Ghul. Ra's explained that the hulking, bald man
was "trained to my COMPLETE service ... and a trifle OVERZEALOUS."
It was Ubu who unwittingly tipped off Batman to the fact that the abduction
of Robin and Talia was, for the most part, a set-up. Nearly killed by a leopard
in a darkened room, the Dark Knight had one question in retrospect — why
didn't Ubu allow the Master to enter THAT doorway first? The answer, of course,
was that it was all a test that Ra's had orchestrated to test the detective's
abilities as both his successor and prospective son-in-law. For his part,
Ubu played the alleged kidnapper, briefly confronting the Dark Knight with
a ram's head mask (1971's BATMAN #232, by O'Neil, Adams and Giordano).
Ubu returned briefly in #243, now playing bodyguard to Talia in Switzerland.
Knocked unconscious by Batman, the underling was forgotten as Ra's (newly-resurrected
by the Lazarus Pit) and Talia fled in #244.
The Pit had not been shut down properly and, within hours, an explosion rocked
the Swiss Alps. The semi-conscious Ubu was caught at ground zero. The accident
left Ubu with severe burns and an unwavering green glow that made it clear
that the man had been permanently altered. Ra's' servant was taken into the
care of two Swiss doctors, Varnov and Kolb, who hoped to ascertain the secret
of immortality from the giant's body. Muttering about revenge against millionaire
Bruce Wayne, Ubu fled and the doctors followed, gambling that he would seek
out Wayne in Gotham City. Ubu ended up in Wayne Manor, the now-abandoned sight
where he had seen Bruce unmasked as Batman. Ubu had killed Kolb and left Alfred
for dead before Batman arrived on the scene and learned of Varnov's true motives.
Ubu lunged at Batman and, caught in a stranglehold, the desperate Dark Knight
kicked the giant in the stomach, knocking him backwards, where "he impaled
himself on that splintered railing." (!973's DETECTIVE #438, by Archie
Goodwin and Jim Aparo).
Life went on for Ra's and, by 1978, he had replaced Ubu with a lookalike
named Lurk (DC SPECIAL SERIES #15, by O'Neil, Michael Golden and Giordano).
"I've fought your kind back on that mountain in the Himalayas,"
Batman said between punches, "and it won't be any different here. You're
immensely powerful — but Ra's does your thinking — and battles are won by
brains as much as by brawn."
In DETECTIVE #490, Lurk deviated from Ra's instructed attack on the Sensei's
men to take a shot at Batman and ended up failing in his primary mission.
"You really fouled this one, friend. Ra's is going to be VERY unhappy.
If I were you," the Dark Knight suggested, "I'd find a place to
hide — preferably on another planet."
The opening chapter of Marv Wolfman's "Lazarus Affair" multi-parter
(in late 1980's BATMAN #332) added another wrinkle to the origins of Ra's'
underlings when Batman was confronted by several bald, hulking "mutates,"
ordinary men who been altered in a laboratory to become "unstoppable
dreadnoughts." It was no great surprise to learn that the master of the
mutates was Ra's Al Ghul himself (#334-335).
Mike W. Barr and Trevor Von Eeden introduced the next of Ra's' bodyguards
in 1982's BATMAN ANNUAL #8. Though he possessed the same temperment as his
predecessors, Grind actually had hair — a black crewcut. He returned in Barr's
SON OF THE DEMON (1987) and BRIDE OF THE DEMON (1990). Left for dead by the
mad Doctor Carmody, Grind was presumably killed in the subsequent explosion
of Ra's' mountain fortress.
Ubu made a surprising reappearance in 1998's BATMAN: BANE OF THE DEMON #1-4
(by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Tom Palmer), his face now hidden behind
a hockey-like mask. Wearing a variation of BATMAN #232's ram's head mask,
he appeared to perish once again in #4, this time at the hands of Bane, who
took the giant's place at Ra's and Talia's side.
Mistaking Bane (his face hidden by the ram's helmet) for Ubu, Batman explained
to Tim Drake that "there seem to have been MANY Ubus. I'm sure I've never
encountered this one before" (DETECTIVE #700). More recently, Ubu had
appeared (with the hockey mask) in BATMAN: THE CHALICE and (without) in JLA
The Ubu of the animated universe can be seen in THE BATMAN AND ROBIN ADVENTURES
#10 and 25 while other variations have appeared in BATMAN: DARK KNIGHT OF
THE ROUND TABLE #2, JLA: THE NAIL #2 and SUPERMAN & BATMAN: GENERATIONS
ULTRAA of Earth-Prime (Jack Grey; pre-Crisis
Created by Gerry Conway and George Tuska.
FIRST APPEARANCE: Justice League of America #153 (Apr. 1978)
FEATURED APPEARANCES: Justice League of America #153, 158, 169-170, 201
Ultraa was the only superpowered being on pre-Crisis Earth Prime ("our"
Earth, Julius Schwartz made a cameo in the story). The Justice League
was mysteriously pulled into Earth Prime just as Earth Prime's
first super villain appeared (some kind of psychedelic robot).
Ultraa was convinced that his own presence on a this super-power-free
world would create more villains, so he left his home and
followed the JLA to Earth-1. He appeared later in a case against the
Royal Flush Gang.
Ultraa was born on a planet that, very much like Krypton, exploded.
In his case, the entire population of the planet was saved in big arks,
in cryogenic sleep. A sentient super-computer watched over them. Both
the super-computer and one baby were ejected and sent to Earth. The
baby landed in Australia and was raised by Aborigines and the computer
crashed in Antarctica and was driven mad by decades of loneliness. When
a pilot crashed in Antarctica, he, the computer and parts of the wreckage
fused into a malicious entity. Meanwhile, Ultraa's youth was mirrored
Clark Kent's, except in the Australian Outback with aboriginal parents.
Ultraa was fast enought to run on water, quite invulnerable
and super-strong. His one weakness was ultra-sound. The JLA and Ultraa
defeated the robot (Maxitron?) by disguising Superman as Ultraa and vice
versa, so when they were attacked with red sunlight and ultra-sound respectively,
they were not affected.
ULTRAA of Almerac (Post-Crisis)
FIRST APPEARANCE: Justice League Quarterly #13
The post-Crisis version of Ultraa
comes from Maxima's homeworld of Almerac. He and Maxima were groomed as mates
from birth, but he was beaten in a tournament and she spurned him. This drove
him to overcompensate by using his great strength to conquer untold worlds in
her name. He became wildly jealous when he discovered that she had gone to Earth
seeking Superman as a mate. Instead of Superman, he found Maxima with Captain
Atom (her newest conquest). Ultraa was easily beaten by Cap and Maxima sent
Ultraa packing once again. He apparently stayed on Earth because he next appeared
as part of the UN's "League Busters." This outfit was sent in after
the JLA when they defied UN orders not to engage the Overmaster. He has not
been seen since then.
First Appearance: Justice League of America #42 (February 1966)
The strange energy life-form known only as the Unimaginable cannot be seen
by human eyes, its real shape unknown. Bored with existence, the Unimaginable
left its native planet and traveled through space, exploring several other
worlds and gathering various life-forms along the way. Arriving on Earth,
it saw the JLA in action and decided that it wanted to join the team. However,
the Justice Leaguers refused the Unimaginable's demands, and the Unimaginable
attacked, first with several of the alien creatures it had gathered, then
in the body of one of them, a Doctor Bendorion. The JLA defeated the Unimaginable
both times and imprisoned it.
Years later, the Unimaginable returned in outer space, battling the Green
Lantern named Alia, whom it had previously encountered and wanted revenge
on. The Daxamite hero Valor saved Alia and seemingly disintegrated the Unimaginable
with a burst of laser vision.
The Unimaginable returned in VALOR
#5-10, and was also the
surprise villain in the later issues of the SUPERMEN OF AMERICA mini-series.
Ur the Caveboy
"The story so far: Ur, the Caveboy, has discovered fire in a
tree struck by lightning. He became a hero. The whole family sat around the
fire when — a dinosaur appeared!!" — Dick Loederer's "Caveman
Capers" in NEW FUN COMICS #2.
With that passage, the second installment of one of DC's earliest features
began. The one-page humor strip ran for five episodes in 1935's NEW FUN COMICS
#1-5 and, I'm sorry to say, I've only seen issues #2 and 5.
Like many caveman stories in comics and film, including the ALLEY OOP comic
strip (launched in 1933), the series opted to ignore the fact that men and
dinosaurs did not co-exist. Instead, each episode found the blonde, blank-eyed
Ur and his curly haired brunette sister Wur trying to evade some prehistoric
In NEW FUN #2, the siblings ran into a forest to evade a long-necked dinosaur
that was in close pursuit. After taking care to place his precious torch of
fire between two stones, Ur joined his sister in climbing headfirst into the
top of a hollowed-out tree trunk. The big lizard seemed to be amused by the
small legs and bare bottoms that were trying to mimic branches and began to
twist his neck around the tree. Neglecting his own bare bottom, the dinosaur
abruptly let go when his tail waved into the path of Ur's torch. While their
pursuer erupted with some choice profanity ("?*@?"), Wur and Ur
began to crawl out the base of the trunk.
By the final installment in #5, Ur and Wur (now blonde with pigtails) had
gained the power of flight, albeit only because an ape-man had sent them hurtling
through the air at breakneck speed at the end of #4. Their flight was spotted
by a creature that ... well, let's not mince words ... a creature that looked
EXACTLY like Walt Disney's Pluto with Dumbo-size reptilian ears. "Holy
mastodon!" shrieked Ur. "A flying ichtosaurus is after us!"
As they whizzed by a hornets' nest on a branch, Ur swatted it and the enraged
insects attacked the flying dog. While "Pluto" smashed into another
tree, Ur and Wur's momentum finally stopped and they began to plummet to earth.
Like a number of other 1930s DC strips, "Caveman Capers" didn't
so much end as stop. One is merely left to assume that Ur and Wur didn't survive
their headlong plunge. There's always the possibility, of course, that latter
day cave teenagers Anthro or Kong ... or even 1946-1947 humor character Caveman
Curly (ALL FUNNY #14-20) ... stepped in to rescue the kids who blazed the
trail. In any event, it's all ancient history now.
An series in the war titles of the early '70's, based on writer/artist
Sam Glanzman's actual experiences in the Navy during World War II. Since he
owned the series, he also did a version of this for Marvel as a graphic novel,
A SAILOR'S STORY. The star of "U.S.S. Stevens" was Sam Glanzman
himself, as the series was autobiographical in nature.
G.I. Combat #145, 150-153, 157
Our Army At War #218, 220, 222-223, 225, 227, 231-232, 235,
238, 240-241, 244, 247-248, 256-259, 261-262, 265-267, 275, 281-282, 293, 298