Tag Archives: Celestial Madonna Saga

ASK BALLADEER: KANG THE CONQUEROR AND IMMORTUS

kang picIn the past handful of days Balladeer’s Blog’s 2017 blog posts examining the Marvel Comics villain Kang the Conqueror and some of his other selves like Immortus and Rama Tut have been getting incredible amounts of hits. I looked into it and it turns out that when the latest Marvel streaming miniseries, Loki, ended, the cliffhanger involved Kang and Immortus at Immortus’ castle in Limbo, the realm outside the time stream.

immI thought that people were just going to my 2017 blog posts because they had no idea who Kang and Immortus are. Instead, I started getting comments from readers expressing thanks for the clarity of the “Timey-Wimey” nature of Kang’s labyrinthine saga. They said that the people writing the Loki miniseries plopped everything into the far later stages of the Kang/ Immortus stories, bypassing the earlier tales that would help people understand it.

So, in the style of an FAQ, here are the links to my articles which let people in on the Kang storyline from the beginning, through his eventual metamorphosis into Immortus by way of Rama Tut II, the Scarlet Centurion and others. Think of Kang’s various selves like you’d think of the Doctor’s various regenerations on Doctor Who to simplify it. Anyway, here are the links for my reviews of early Kang stories up through the Celestial Madonna Saga. (And with The Eternals movie coming, Marvel may well work the Celestials into their movie universe, too.)

Originally, Immortus wasn’t overseeing a “Sacred” Timeline as much as he was making sure events played out properly to bring on the Celestial Madonna.

kang bid tomorrowONE: BID TOMORROW GOODBYE – Kang wants the Celestial Madonna (Mantis, who started out as an Avenger in the 1970s) and reveals she has been the reason he frequently targeted the 20th Century. Agatha Harkness guest-stars, from the years when she was the Scarlet Witch’s mentor. CLICK HERE.

TWO: A BLAST FROM THE PAST – The actual, REAL death of an Avenger as the team tries to stop Kang from obtaining the Celestial Madonna, whose offspring would grant Kang control of all time and space. CLICK HERE

THREE: THE REALITY PROBLEM – The funeral for that first Avenger to be killed in action, plus further investigation into Mantis’ mysterious past to learn how she became destined to be the Celestial Madonna. CLICK HERE. Continue reading

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MANTIS 3: BELOW US THE BATTLE

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Mantis below us the battleTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 115 (September 1973) Below Us The Battle 

Avengers Roster: THOR (Donald Blake, MD), IRON MAN (Tony Stark), CAPTAIN AMERICA (Steve Rogers), THE SCARLET WITCH (Wanda * last name unknown at the time of this story * ), THE BLACK PANTHER (Prince T’Challa), THE VISION (not applicable), MANTIS (* unknown at the time of this story *) and THE SWORDSMAN (Jacques Duquesne).  

BELOW US THE BATTLE

Synopsis: All of the Avengers listed above are in an Avengers Quin-Jet flying over the Atlantic Ocean bound for England. The Black Knight (Dane Whitman), in 1973 the only British member of the Avengers, has been out of contact for an alarming amount of time. Anticipating trouble the team has decided to check out the Black Knight’s castle for signs of their friend and colleague.  

In keeping with the usual levels of verisimilitude for 1970s Marvel Comics, the story presents the British branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. intercepting the Quin-Jet because of the presence on board of the recently reformed former supervillain the Swordsman.

Mantis and Swordsman (partial)Despite the Swordsman’s pardon and his status as an Avenger the Brits do not want the formerly wanted man allowed in the country. Thor – more worldly in the comic books than he is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – negotiates with the British and the Swordsman is allowed in England but the Avengers are responsible for his actions.  

Captain America is the only Avenger still suspicious about the Swordsman and his lady love Mantis, the enigmatic woman who will assume more and more importance as the issues go by, enroute to the Celestial Madonna Saga. Continue reading

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MANTIS 2: NIGHT OF THE SWORDSMAN

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE  With Marvel Comics characters basically being Pop Culture Deities these days I’m approaching this topic the way I approach neglected mythological epics.

Mantis Night of SwordsmanTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 114 (August 1973)  Night of the Swordsman

Before diving in, just contemplate the original publication date of this issue. FORTY-FOUR YEARS AGO!

If you went back 44 years before August of 1973 superhero comic books didn’t even exist yet. Just let that sink in for a moment.  

Cast of Characters:

Mantis 3MANTIS: When researching these old stories I’ve come to really “marvel” at Marvel Comics’ writers’ knack for handling long-term episodic storylines. In my opinion they handled it better than many writers of serialized science fiction and horror television series’ of today. Maintaining multiple threads of a long-running narrative is a specialized type of pulp fiction writing and 1970s Marvel Comics are excellent examples of the craft.  

The enigmatic seeds being planted in this issue regarding the brand new character Mantis and the long-established figure the Swordsman will bear fruit over the course of YEARS, culminating in what is remembered as the Celestial Madonna Saga. But a maddening one month wait between episodes makes today’s one week or so between tv episodes look pretty brief.   

Getting back to MANTIS – She was one of the many superheroines introduced by Marvel in the 1970s. This issue of The Avengers was the first appearance in action of this Eurasian beauty who was part Vietnamese and part ? for now.

Mantis’ mutant powers included empathy so advanced it was akin to telepathy at times. Physically she employed a brand of “super kung-fu” like DC’s superhero the Karate Kid. In this debut appearance, for instance she defeats THOR AND CAPTAIN AMERICA in battle. Yep.

The enigmatic hints about Mantis’ potential were nicely done and seem to have partially inspired Chris Claremont’s later handling of Marvel Woman/ Jean Grey’s slow evolution into Phoenix and then Dark Phoenix over at The Uncanny X-Men.

SwordsmanTHE SWORDSMAN: Hawkeye’s trainer and mentor when they both traveled the circus and carnival circuit in their pre-supervillain turned hero days. Unlike Hawkeye, however, the Swordsman was an actual villain, not merely misunderstood like his protégé.

Way back in Avengers’ #19 and 20 he pretended to join the team but was really infiltrating them as an agent of the supervillain the Mandarin. (The real one, not the comic-relief impersonator from the third Iron Man movie.) The Mandarin was the man who upgraded the Swordsman’s regular sword into its unbreakable state. He also outfitted it with the ability to shoot electric rays, fire rays and power blasts. That weaponry was controlled by buttons on the hilt of the sword.

After his betrayal of the Avengers at the behest of the Mandarin the Swordsman  was an active supervillain in the Marvel Universe, often clashing with the Avengers as part of the Lethal Legion and as a semi-regular foe of Captain America. Most recently the Swordsman had fought alongside the Avengers in the 100th issue anniversary special to help them save the Earth and Asgard from the Greek god of war Ares.       

The current members of the Avengers at this time were: THOR, IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE SCARLET WITCH, THE BLACK PANTHER and THE VISION. Since they’ve become household names thanks to the Avengers movies there’s no need to reintroduce them here. Time to give a synopsis of this issue’s story:  Continue reading

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MANTIS: THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA

MantisWith the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 last week and its introduction of the character Mantis to the Marvel Cinematic Universe I dove in for some research.

Luckily with the countless superhero web sites and the ready availability of archived collections of comic books from the 1970s and earlier it only took me til today to decide to take an extensive look at Mantis as she was originally presented in the pages of The Avengers – NOT the Guardians of the Galaxy – during what came to be called The Celestial Madonna Saga.

REASON ONE: I still have a soft spot for comic books because reading them as a kid served as a gateway to two of my adult passions: mythology and opera.

REASON TWO: I’m intrigued by the fact that so many of the stories brought to the screen by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their related properties trace their original appearance to the 1970s like Mantis.

Mantis 2Hell, Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin around 1973. Magneto was ret-conned into his present personality in the 1970s. Adam Warlock got his Soul Gem, later ret-conned into one of the Infinity Stones. The Defenders debuted in that decade. Wolverine was also introduced in the 70s. Same with Luke Cage, Blade the Vampire Slayer, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, Thanos, the Punisher. Even Howard the Duck. (Well, you can’t win them all.)  

REASON THREE: I’m genuinely impressed with the way Marvel’s writers in the 1970s anticipated today’s slew of serialized sci-fi and horror series’ with their expert handling of prolonged narratives. Sometimes over YEARS! Seriously. Continue reading

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