Ultraforce Cartoon is the best 90s superhero show you missed out on
Ah the 90s, the decade were everything had to be X-TREEEME and with comic books making a comeback in that decade, new heroes that were more extreme than the old ones had to be made. That led us to Ultraforce from Malibu comics. Now I never read them or even knew they existed. Seeing a bunch of 90’s heroes that weren’t from DC or Marvel but some indie comics is awesome and they had their own cartoon so of course I had to watch it.
The show starts with the forming of Ultraforce, a team made up of Ultras. Now what is an Ultra is never mentioned, at first I assumed it was similar to Mutants from X-Men since here they are also being persecuted, however as you find the origins of some of them you realize that Ultra is just a generic name for people with superpowers. They have random adventures along the way with a few being multi-part episodes which was kind of rare for shows during this time. Let’s meet the heroes before I continue about the show:
Contrary: Think Professor X with boobs and revealing costume. I never understood her role or powers. They seemed to be psychic related but she couldn’t do half the things Professor X can. And not only that but while being able to walk she spends most of her time in a yellow electronic floating wheelchair exactly like the one Professor X wore during in the comics at that time. For some reason she recruits a team but this is never really explained besides giving ‘Ultras’ a good name. As unoriginal and lame character she is, I didn’t hate her and I think its because she’s Professor X but with large knockers and WWF themed outfit, so good job Malibu.
Ghoul: A character that seems he came from the Toxic Crusaders cartoon. From what I gather he is dead and his superpower is to be alive after being dead, no really. He also has the power to see things that happened previously by touching an object related to what he wants to see. He is a pretty useless character since he is literally a rotting corpse so any action at all and he starts losing limbs, again literally. He tries to bring comedy relief but usually fails and he just doesn’t seem to belong here. However for being so useless I actually don’t mind him too much and he does take the role of ‘computer guy’ after the previous one dies.
Pixx: The only somewhat likable character from the first members of Ultraforce, too bad her character design is terrible. All she does is handle the computer and if she had any superpowers I forgot it since she dies in the first story arc. Not much of a spoiler since she isn’t even included in the opening song so you could have deduced she wasn’t going to stick around for long. The thing about her is she’s killed on screen, something rare for Saturday morning cartoons, especially since she has a very gruesome death. She is being radiated to death and you see her face change to a skeletal one as er hair falls off. How they did this in this otherwise kid friendly cartoon boggles my mind but its not the only time they did it. I guess to their defense she kind of re-appears again later since Ghoul makes a program with her memories not to mention no one actually watched this show to be offended.
Hardcase: He is the leader of the group and basically has Superman’s powers before they were toned down. He had a team before Ultraforce in which they all were killed or something terrible happened. This character not only has a terrible design but besides his backstory sounding somewhat interesting he is terrible and bland. He also seems kind of pointless since Prime has the same powers, except his are more powerful. The show only tries to pass it off as Hardcase having more wisdom and that knows how to lead which I find hard to believe since he lost his previous team. Apparently he can fly though for some reason some episodes he needed a jetpack, talk about continuity.
Prime: This character seems awful at first since he is basically DC’s Captain Marvel / Shazam but 90s. A kid who transforms into a steroid abuser who has all of Superman’s powers. He seems annoying at first but suddenly you realize he is the most interesting character and thankfully he gets most of the attention during the show as well. He doesn’t use a lightning bolt like Captain Marvel to change; He simply oozes out this green goo from his body and transforms. This right there is flippin’ awesome. Great character and I think by the end of the series I ended up liking him more than Captain Marvel. The fact that apparently he can transform into anything he wants is a big plus too.
Prototype: This is basically Iron Man but without Tony Stark, instead we get some kid who works for a company who made the armor. While not an original idea and the kid Jimmy Ruiz not as great as Tony Stark he isn’t too bad. But what makes him great is the armor is pretty awesome and thats something not even the Iron Man cartoon from the 90s was able to accomplish, it wasn’t until the mid 00’s that Iron Man became a name in the mainstream.
Topaz: An Alien queen from another dimension were women rule and she hates men. So basically the modern version of Wonder Woman. And with that said she is a terrible character, the less we mention to her the better.
The Night-Man: Somewhat based off of Daredevil and Batman, we meet him halfway through the show to never see him again. Don’t know what that was all about, but the character while not original was not that bad.
The Strangers: A group formed in the finale of new Ultras. The team consisted of pretty much any generic hero with superpowers you can think of with names to match that genericness. The only one that isn’t is because he is a straight rip-off. That’s right the Human Torch is a part of the Strangers but with a different name. He still transforms his body into flames and can fly though. They had a few good moments but unsure if it was enough to balance out just how bad they were, good thing they are introduced at the end of the season.
Most of the villains were terrible so I’m only listing one, I mean we had a vampire, an evil clone of Prime, and a Moleman rip-off. There is this one alien looking machine skeleton thing named N-ME which I think (name aside) is pretty awesome but you never really find out what or who he is he just randomly appears twice. N-ME is basically if a Terminator from the terminator franchise and an Alien from the Alien franchise had a baby. He has four arms and is awesome, so awesome I bought his figure online for cheap, awesome character even if he had no plot.
Lord Pumpkin: I kid you not that’s his name, and the only villain I can talk about since it’s the only one besides N-ME that was memorable. I have a thing for Pumpkins I guess, the villain has a great voice and he is literally a pumpkin. Oddly enough his introduction is as a the leader of a gang which makes no sense since he apparently is magical. He is defeated and killed in a really gruesome way, but somehow he survives, I guess you can blame black magic for his return.
The show itself isn’t amazing by any means especially by the standards set by Batman: The Animated Series, X-MEN TAS and Spider-Man TAS which all came out around the same time as this. Besides having some gruesome deaths and a few mature themes, the show was definitely written for kids and the show wasn’t trying to break new ground or at least it did not do it too well. The show is oddly entertaining though and definitely something different from the other superhero cartoons at that time. The show is no classic but if you’re looking for something different and involving superheroes I definitely recommend it. Its a weird show that is a bit extreeeme and the heroes just seem like a little kid trying to do an original superhero but borrowing pretty much most of an already established superhero has to make their new one. Seriously, I felt like I created all these superhero rip offs in second grade as well.
I enjoyed the show enough that I’d watch it again and plan on reading a few of the comics since I liked the universe enough. I think I would recommend it to fans of the comic but they might not like it for SatAMing their favorite characters. There does seem to be a fandom of the Malibu ‘Ultraverse’ as they call it, they were all pretty mad that Marvel acquired the company. But while the show is not great and fails in comparison to the other superhero shows from the time, it has something special. Hard to describe what but the show just oozes out something cool about these Ultraheroes.