Comics were a strange place in the 1960’s, just about any idea was green lit regardless of how strange it might be or how ludicrous the concept was. Case in point, Ultra the multi alien.
Arriving on the scene in DC Comics anthology series Mystery in Space #103 in November of 1965. The story told of an unspecified future where mankind traveled easily between worlds, pilot Ace Arn on a routine tourist transport trip to Jupiter finds his ship caught in the magnetic field of a passing comet. He safely evacuates the passengers but himself unable to escape finds his ship crashed into a large asteroid. Arn survives and find the asteroid is artificial and the home base of evil scientific genius criminal Zorba. The asteroid is part of a small solar system consisting of the plants Ulla, Laroo, Trago and Raagan and a representative of each world serves as a member of Zorba’s gang.
Arn finds that Zorba had invented a gun that transforms whomever it shoots into the same race as the shooter and that Zorba had armed each of his underlings with guns to blackmail their worlds. However shortly before Arn arrived Zorba had perished in a lab accident triggering a race between the four underling to get to the base and claim the blackmail plans. As Arn emerges from Zorba’s lab he is shot by all four gang members at the same instant. The blast changes Arn’s body into a freakish composite of the four alien races.
His right upper body becoming shaggy and green and possessing the superhuman strength equal to several humans, Hi left upper body became blue and hairless with the ability to control magnetic fields, his left lower body grew birdlike with a tiny ankle wing (similar to Namor) bestowing him with the power of flight and his right lower body became living lightning allowing him to fire energy bolts. Arn used his new found powers to easily defeat the gang and repair his ship. On his way home he decided to continue fighting crime under the name ULTRA, combining the first letter of names of each world and his own name.
Ultra would battle various enemies on Earth and in space including the Pied Piper of Space and Dr Dynamo, but he also continuously sought a cure for his freakish appearance. He eventually created a device called a “Hyper Converter Belt” which allowed him to transform from Ultra to Ace Arn at will. Arn returned to his hometown of Dalesville and his fiance Bonnie Denton where he lived while fighting crime as Ultra.
The series Mystery in Space ended with issue #110 and with it went Ultra.
Many years later Ultra would appear in small cameos throughout DC books including Starman #55 where he appeared in the cab of fellow 60’s odd ball character Space Cabby. And then most notably in Superman/Batman #31 where a much more exaggerated version of Ultra is part of a group of alien and half alien heroes mind controlled by the villain Despero to destroy the Earth, In the story, Ultra destroys present day Dalesville before joining Supergirl in the final battle. He then appeared as an angst riddled version of himself in the one shot Strange Adventures 2011 book from DC His appearance on an episode of Batman:The Brave and the Bold fighting alongside the Green Lanterns was his first and hopefully not last animated appearance.
Hopefully DC will see fit to add Ultra to their DC Direct line like fellow odd ball character OMAC, if they do I will happily hand over my money to show my love for this odd ball character.