A few years before Marvel's 25th anniversary, they started planning a celebration. The idea was to create a new universe, a universe more based in reality and actual science than mutants, time travellers and fantasy planets.
Tom DeFalco, Shooter's head editor, asked for the project to be his. Shooter granted the request, allocated a budget and sent DeFalco off to create 8 titles for the late 1986 launch. DeFalco wound up making poor progression on the project and Shooter had to step in. With the deadline fast approaching and with Marvel cutting back on budgets due to their pending sale, Shooter and his team of volunteers and unknowns hastily put together 8 titles for the launch.
The New Universe did not set the comics world on fire. Sales were profitable but not outstanding and the critics came down harshly on the line. Due to being rushed to print, the titles don't have the same quality we have come to expect from Shooter's products.
About a year after the New Universe launched, Shooter quit Marvel and Tom DeFalco took over as editor-in-chief. They immediately cancelled 4 of the titles and tried to revitalize the universe. They began to introduce more fantasy elements and didn't focus on continuity as much. The slogan around the office became: "The New Universe: It doesn't suck anymore." The people who remained after Shooter left took veiled shots at Shooter in the New Universe, namely by writing a universal storyline called The Pitt which centered around obliterating Pittsburgh, Shooter's hometown.
In Mid 1989, 2 and a half years and 32 issues after it launched, the New Universe was put to rest. They wrapped things up with a 4-part mini-series titled "The War." The characters of the New Universe laid dormant for years until Mark Gruenwald reused some of them in Quasar. Spider-Man 2099 also briefly brought Justice back.
Even though the New Universe sank, Shooter knew the ideas behind it were sound. He proved it at Valiant when he used the same ideas and principles to generate sales records and win industry awards with the Unity crossover. Shooter was editor-in-chief for the first year the New Universe was in existence. He also lent his writing talents to the first 7 issues of The Star Brand.
The New Universe is an interesting read because you can see the same ideas in the New Universe that wound up being successfully done at Valiant, Defiant and Broadway: reality based science fiction revolving around a tight universe continuity.
The basis for the entire New Universe structure is the White Event. On July 22, 1986, a blinding, mysterious white event affected the lives of a small percentage of people on Earth. The stories of the humans turned paranormals by the White Event are told throughout the New universe.