The 90s Superhero Series Starring Marvel’s Batman You Can Watch Without Disney+

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Marvel has had a few versions of Batman, from the Squadron Supreme’s Owlman to Moon Knight, but there is another. Originally part of Malibu Comics Ultraverse, NightMan is another Batman expy that fell under the Marvel umbrella after they purchased Malibu. He also had his own series that ran for two seasons, a decade before the birth of the MCU and three years before Fox’s X-Men.

Amazingly, the low-budget NightMan production hasn’t become lost media along with the rest of the Ultraverse, and it now stands as the last available piece of media from Malibu’s industry-changing shared comic universe.

NightMan Is a Relic Of Pre-MCU Superhero Shows

NightMan follows the adventures of Johnny Domino (Matt McColm, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator 2 body double), a jazz musician playing in a cable car struck by lightning. The incident gives him the ability to hear evil thoughts nearby, but at the cost of permanent insomnia, meaning he no longer can sleep or even has a need to.

He Doesn’t Fight DayMan

This is similar to his comic book origin, in which he was driving a car that crashed into a San Francisco cable car struck by a beam of energy shot from The Entity on the Moon that granted everyone on board superpowers (and created the superhero team, The Strangers). NightMan gets his powers from the same blast, but also a piece of shrapnel stuck in his brain; oh, and he learns magic from an extradimensional sorceress.

Based On The Ultraverse Character

I feel like one of the few who remembers the Ultraverse, and trying to explain it to people today sounds like a fever dream. NightMan, the series, focuses instead on his super suit, granting him invisibility and flight and mimicking his comic book vision. Johnny uses all of these gifts to combat street-level crime until he gets wrapped up in a conspiracy involving a billionaire technologist.

Embraces The Insanity Of Classic Comics

Each episode of the series is a case of the week, with one of the standouts being “Manimal,” which, yes, brings back the hero of the 80s series in the strangest cross-over possible to fight a time-traveling Jack the Ripper. In another episode, NightMan battles Al Capone and John Dillinger.

In case you can’t tell, NightMan is a very weird series, but it embraces the insane nature of comics, particularly those of the Silver Age. The special effects are laughable, the acting is amateurish, and yet, because everyone involved understood the assignment, it’s a lot of fun.

NightMan Made It The Main Marvel Universe

It’s a shame that NightMan was unable to follow the comics once Johnny crossed over to the proper Marvel universe. In a one-shot, NightMan vs. Wolverine, Johnny battles Wolverine in the middle of Arcade’s Murderworld, and then, in a limited series, NightMan/Gambit, he teams up with the cajun mutant for an adventure.

A Low-Budget Fun Series

REVIEW SCORE

Due to the sale of Malibu to Marvel and some of the language contained within the sale, none of the Ultraverse characters, including NightMan, but also Prime, Prototype, Hardcase, and Mantra (a hero that would either be super popular today or cause a riot), can be used by Marvel. This also means none of the comics can be re-published.

Thanks to the odious contract, the closest we can ever get to reliving the glory days of the Ultraverse is through NightMan. The whole series is streaming on PlutoTV, Amazon FreeVee, Plex, Roku.

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