Obscure DC Characters:


"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 #43.

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 #3.


ULTRAA of Earth-Prime (Jack Grey; pre-Crisis only).

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.

The Unimaginable

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 creature.

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.

U.S.S. Stevens

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
  • Our Fighting Forces #125-128, 132, 134, 136, 138-141, 143, 148
  • Sgt. Rock #304, 308
  • Sgt. Rock Special (second series) #1
  • Star-Spangled War Stories #153, 167, 171-172, 174
  • Weird War Tales #4

Several reprints appeared in SGT. ROCK SPECIAL #20 and 21. Episodes were also reprinted in AMERICA AT WAR and SGT. ROCK #384.

Original text copyright DC Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.