Many people ask me and other Ultraverse founders why Marvel, who bought Malibu all those years ago, hasn’t done anything with the Ultraverse. All the information I and most of my collaborators had was mainly second hand. Tom Mason, a former editor and writer there, cleared it up in a recent Comics Beat article in the comments.
As far as I know, there are no creator contract issues with the Founders that would prevent the revival of the Ultraverse. I know that phantom issue gets tossed out there a lot, but both Tom Brevoort and Joe Quesada have stated that it’s not a creator contract issue that prevents Marvel from reviving it. And since I’m one of the people who has an Ultraverse contract and an interest in multiple characters, I would know. Also, Marvel owns the Ultraverse outright, so they don’t need anyone’s permission. (The Founders still keep in touch and we’ve all talked about it over the years – there’s nothing legal going on between the Founders and Marvel.)
Johanna is correct that the Ultraverse contracts for the Founders do have participation %. However, the Founders do not have an ownership stake, do not share in any “profits” (however that may be defined), and have no control over the properties. (Just as if they had created a character for the DCU.) Character Interest Agreements for the Ultraverse simply state that writers and artists who created specific characters will receive a very small percentage of the money that comes in based on their media exploitation. The agreements were based on standard terms at DC at the time for creators who created a character for the DCU. And those terms are in perpetuity, so if for some reason there’s a Sludge movie, Steve Gerber’s estate receives a check. But, those percentages are not onerous and not out of line with what DC was offering at the time.
Brevoort has stated in the past that the reason Marvel can’t discuss the Ultraverse properties is because there’s an NDA in place with certain parties.
If you read the original press release where Scott Rosenberg left Marvel and announced the formation of Platinum Studios back in 1997, you’ll find this nugget: “Rosenberg also has an ongoing producer deal for all Malibu Comics properties.” http://goo.gl/v2WRc2
So that NDA just might relate to that and probably has more to do with the reason why the Ultraverse properties have languished.
That explains a lot. Thanks, Tom. At least it wasn’t anything to do with us.