Cover to Prime # 1. Art by Norm Breyfogle, 1993.
|First appearance||Prime #1|
|Alter ego||Kevin Green|
Prime: Superhuman strength, stamina, and durability|
Ability to concentrate and release energy as a concussive blast
Kevin Green: Able to create Prime bodies around himself
Prime is a superhero created by Bob Jacob, Gerard Jones, Len Strazewski, and Norm Breyfogle. He debuted in Prime #1 under Malibu Comics' Ultraverse imprint, and was one of its flagship characters along with Mantra and Hardcase. The character design was credited to Bret Blevins. The character also appeared in the superhero group Ultraforce.
Prime is really a thirteen year-old boy named Kevin Green with the power to transform into a super-powered adult. In this sense, he is much like the Golden Age Captain Marvel. Like the Modern Age version of Captain Marvel, Kevin retains the thoughts, memories and consciousness of his thirteen year-old self as Prime. This is a chief source of conflict for the character as he is frequently placed in adult situations and circumstances he may not be mature enough to deal with.
As part of the Ultraverse imprint, the comic was set within a shared universe of super-powered beings conceptualized by Mike Barr, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, James Hudnall, Gerard Jones, Larry Niven, James Robinson, and Len Strazewski. Image Comics, a line of creator-owned comics that had record-breaking sales figures, had a publishing deal with Malibu that had ended shortly before.
Writers Jones and Strazewski used the book to explore a number of themes, such as the place of role models in establishing personal definitions of heroism, as well as touchy matters regarding sexuality and pedophilia.
Artist Breyfogle set the definitive visual tone of Prime. His style was marked by the use of interconnected panels with spilled margins and broken borders, as well as frequent use of speed lines and other hyperkinetic emphasis effects. Breyfogle's depiction of Prime was also distinctive for stark lighting, over-rendered musculature, and a dark approach to gore. Breyfogle departed as regular artist after issue 12. Among the artists who made up for Breyfogle's departure were George Pérez, Darick Robertson, and John Statema.
Marvel Comics purchased Malibu in 1994. In 1995, Marvel characters began crossing over into the Ultraverse, beginning with the appearance of Thor and Loki in Godwheel — a crossover that revealed many of the elements that Larry Niven had written into the Ultraverse creators' bible.
As time passed, these incursions became more frequent, culminating in 1995, with the event known as "Black September." This crossover effectively gave Marvel the license to rewrite many of the Ultraverse books' core concepts.
Powers and abilities
Kevin transforms into Prime by projecting an organic 'liquid flesh' material from his torso. The liquid flesh then shapes itself into a tall man with exceptionally large and defined muscular development. Prime can revert to his teenage form by destabilizing the outer body into a mess of protein goo, either consciously or when his Prime-body's energy reserves run out. When this happens, Kevin must pull himself out of the body's remains or risk suffocating from lack of oxygen.
As Prime, Kevin possesses tremendous strength with unknown limits and once lifted an entire outdoor gym with relative ease. His resistance to physical injury is also exceptionally high, having survived a close proximity explosion of several nuclear warheads. Prime can also fly at Mach-level of velocity. Although all of Prime's powers are modelled after traditional superhero powers, these limitations are defined mostly by Kevin's subconscious aspirations.
In fact, it is frequently suggested that the appearance of the Prime-body is formed mostly by Kevin's subconscious. Many of the features of the Prime-body are taken from Kevin's role models such as action stars and comic book superheroes. Another Ultraverse character who shares a similar origin, Elven is a fan of Elfquest comics and creates a body for herself that is a mishmash of various Tolkienesque fantasy elements. The face of Prime also bears a striking resemblance to Kevin's own father, Russell Green.
In effect the Prime-body reflects Kevin's own attitudes towards heroism at any given moment. As such, Prime's physical appearance has changed numerous times. Common elements exist among the different Prime-bodies though, such as a stylized 'P' resting somewhere on his chest or cape and some metallic adornment such as chains or gauntlets. Some of his forms include:
- First Prime - A Prime-body obviously inspired by comic book superheroes, as well as local bodybuilders from Kevin's home state. As the first Prime-body, it defines the visual template for the other Prime-bodies. The body possesses extremely developed muscles and prominent veins. The costume is made up of a large red cape, red pants, gold gauntlets, calfguards and chestplate and features the trademark stylized 'P' on both the cape and the chestplate.
- Space Prime - A Prime-body meant to withstand to harsh conditions of outer space. This design was force fed into Kevin's subconscious by military scientists working for Colonel Samuels. The epidermal layer has been transformed into a hardened shell resembling some kind of metallic alloy, designed to prevent the body from expanding in the vacuum of space. A set of air-tanks exist in the subdermal layer. The gold gauntlets, calfguard and chestplate remain as well as the 'P' insignia on his chest, but the cape is absent (in the Ultraforce cartoon, it was Contrary who suggested to him changing form).
- Rogue Prime - A Prime-body inspired by rugged individualistic heroes such as the gun-toting antihero Firearm. The body also sports a series of gold chains around the waist, and a set of spiked armbands and headgear. Tattoos and piercings are also notable, as well as a scar on the right eye. The color scheme is radically different, with the 'P' insignia being black on gold, and the vest being dark blue rather than gold and leather gloves replace the gauntlets. In the Ultraforce animated series, Rogue Prime is created when Kevin falls under mind control, as well as from his inner doubts.
- Final Prime - A Prime-body that reconciles the values of Rogue Prime with the inspirations of the First Prime. The visual appearance is closer to that of the First Prime than the Rogue Prime --- cape, gauntlets and all --- but sections of the cape and pants mix blue and red. Hints of the Rogue Prime exist in the form of tattoos, albeit much fewer in number than in the Rogue Prime. There is a slight amount of arm-hair, also a residual element from the Rogue Prime.
- Spider-Prime - A Prime-body inspired in part by Spider-Man. When Kevin was trapped in the Marvel Universe, he only had half of his power. When he tried to become "primed up," he became a mass of slime and unable to control himself. When he tried to help Spider-Man fight the Lizard, he changed into Spider-Prime. This form was a smaller version of Prime with a face mask and gave him six arms. Kevin transformed twice more into a variant version of Spider-Prime, however this body he claimed was 'not Spider-Man's anymore', indicating that somehow the first Spider-Prime may have been a direct imprint on Spider-Man. The second Spider-Prime, like the first, had a red and blue color-scheme much like Spider-Man, along with a mask with red around the eyes, but it also included gauntlets and a massive golden spider on the chest, along with boots to match the gauntlets. The second Spider-Prime had no extra arms except for a singular use in battle with the primary Prime body, which was a one time thing. Both of the second Spider-Prime transformations enabled Kevin to use webbing.
Supporting cast, allies and enemies
- Kelly Cantrell - One of Kevin's classmates with a self-proclaimed irrational crush on Prime. She babysits Gus and Evie Blake who are the children of Mantra. Prime has frequently saved Kelly's life and once declared her as his girlfriend. The apparent age difference between Kelly and a hero who appears to be thirty years old makes this problematic.
- Russell Green - Kevin's father. A former military officer who worked directly under Colonel Samuels. He resigned his commission to become an engineer. When he and his wife had trouble conceiving, he volunteered to become a part of Samuels' fertility research program. When he discovered Kevin's identity as Prime, he contacted Samuels, but later went on to pursue an undercover crusade against the military branch that Samuels worked for.
- Colonel Samuels - an ambitious military officer, Colonel Samuels was directly responsible for many dirty secrets in the military. Chief among them was the fertility research program headed by Doc Gross that created Prime, as well as Elven. Samuels attempted to use a combination of blackmail and media manipulation to coerce Kevin/Prime into using his powers to further his own ends. When Prime attempted to blow the cover on his black ops, Samuels committed suicide.
- Doc Gross - The head researcher of the fertility research program that created Prime. Due to unethical nature of his research, Gross had to destroy much of his files and research notes when a government crackdown was imminent. He attempted to capture Prime for further experimentation but this encounter nearly resulted in his death. A mysterious treatment 'vat' gave him a similar superbody but requires several treatments to remain stable. His current agenda is to breed new ultrahumans like Prime.
- Primevil - A reanimated discarded Prime body, this nearly mindless creature encountered Prime once, attempting to absorb him and take his power.
Possibility of revival
- Let's just say that I wanted to bring these characters back in a very big way, but the way that the deal was initially structured, it's next to impossible to go back and publish these books.
- There are rumors out there that it has to do with a certain percentage of sales that has to be doled out to the creative teams. While this is a logistical nightmare because of the way the initial deal was structured, it's not the reason why we have chosen not to go near these characters, there is a bigger one, but I really don't feel like it’s my place to make that dirty laundry public.
Marvel producer Avi Arad announced in 2002 that production was to begin on Prime as a motion picture adaptation of their comic book property. A finalized script currently exists, written by the team of Don Calame and Chris Conroy. Arad had this to say about the project "Prime is a complete departure from the standard super hero story. With this film we are developing what we think will be Marvel's first super hero action-comedy."
Appearances in other media
Prime was a recurring character in the short-lived Ultraforce cartoon show, where Hardcase acts as his mentor (as he is the only one in the team who knows that Prime is a teenager), and he constantly bickers with Prototype, usually insulting Prototype because his lack of super powers. Prime's team faces off with other Ultraverse villains such as Rune and Lord Pumpkin. Prime is voiced by Michael Donovan, and Prime's alter ego, Kevin Green is voiced by Amos Crawley.
Prime was one of the action figures produced for Galoob's Ultraforce line.
Prime also starred in a Sega CD game. The game received poor reviews from major video game magazines like Gamepro and others.
In 2004 Marvel Studios stated it was in planned production.