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Malibu Comics

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Malibu Comics was an American comic book publisher active in the late 1980s and early 1990s, best known for its Ultraverse line of superhero titles. The company's headquarters was in Calabasas, California. Malibu also owned a small software development company that designed video games in the early to mid-1990s, called Malibu Interactive.


Malibu Comics was launched in 1986 by Dave Olbrich and Tom Mason (joined by Chris Ulm in 1987) thanks to the secret financing of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, who was operating a comic book distribution company (Sunrise Distribution) at the time. The independent American publisher began modestly with creator-owned black-and-white titles, but made a name for itself publishing a combination of new series and licensed properties such as the classic characters Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes, and popular TV/movie/video-game tie-ins. The company served as publishers-of-record for the first comics from Image Comics in 1992, giving the upstart creator-run publisher access to the distribution channels. The Bravura line, consisting of creator-owned titles, was soon started. In 1992, heroes from Centaur Publications (a Golden Age publisher those properties fell into public domain) were revived in the form of the Protectors, Airman, Amazing-Man, Aura, Arc, Arrow, Ferret, Man of War, and Mighty Man, among others. Several of these characters had short-lived spin off titles of their own.

The Ultraverse line was launched during the "boom" of the early 1990s, roughly concurrent with the debut of publishers such as Image and Valiant, and new superhero lines from DC and Dark Horse (Milestone and Comics Greatest World, respectively). The line was in part intended to fill the gap left by Image's independence. They boasted improved production values over traditional comics (especially digital coloring and higher-quality paper), and a roster of respected and/or talented new writers and artists. Emphasizing the tight continuity between the various series in the Ultraverse line, Malibu made extensive use of crossovers, in which a story that began in one series would be continued in the next-shipping issue of another series. Various promotions for special editions or limited-print stories also encouraged readers to sample issues of the entire line. Many fans loved the scope of storytelling this approach allowed; others complained of the effort and cost of buying the issues necessary to keep track of it all. Regardless, the Ultraverse line came to dominate Malibu's catalog.

As sales declined industry-wide in the mid-1990s, Malibu canceled lower-selling series. The company was purchased by Marvel Comics in 1994. Reportedly Marvel made the purchase to acquire Malibu's then-groundbreaking in-house coloring studio, and/or its catalog of movie-licensable properties. Others believe that Marvel simply wanted to put a significant competitor out of business. Marvel canceled the entire Ultraverse line, but (during the Black September event) re-launched a handful of the more popular titles as well as a number of crossovers with Marvel characters. The "volume 2" series each started with "(infinity)" issues and were cancelled a short time later. Within the Marvel Comics multiverse, the Malibu Universe is designated as Earth-93060.

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