Tag Archives: Mantis

MANTIS 28: CELESTIAL MADONNA EXPLANATIONS AND THE HOODED ONE’s IDENTITY

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

Avengers 133 Yesterday and BeyondTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 133 ( March 1975)  Yesterday and Beyond 

Avengers Roster: Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Frank), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), The Vision (not applicable), MANTIS (Mantis Brandt) and Moon Dragon (Heather Douglas) 

Synopsis: We start out at Avengers Mansion, where the Scarlet Witch and the sorceress Agatha Harkness are still locked away in the room which Agatha has sealed off from the rest of the world. Miss Harkness continues to tutor the Scarlet Witch in the more effective use of her mutant hex powers.  

The throngs of onlookers continue surrounding Avengers Mansion for blocks because of the Madonna Star, which still burns brightly over the mansion. There is still a lot of public speculation that the artificial satellite heralds the end of the world. Whispers about Kang the Conqueror’s reference to a “Celestial Madonna” have even the least religious-minded people apprehensive.

Back in the room where Agatha is tutoring the Scarlet Witch, Wanda – showing no sign or memory of the possessed manner in which she chased away the butler Jarvis in our previous installment – prepares to show more of what she’s learned.

Scarlet Witch and Agatha 133Focusing all her concentration, she manages to get a SPECIFIC, CONTROLLED result from her hex-sphere instead of just unleashing random chaos and destruction. That result: animating a nearby chair and causing it to come to life and begin walking around.

Wanda is so excited and proud that she momentarily loses control of the walking chair, Fantasia-style, so Agatha Harkness intervenes, casting a spell that returns the chair to its normal, inanimate state.

The Scarlet Witch tells Miss Harkness that she’d love to show her fellow Avengers her refined abilities and can’t wait for them to return from Vietnam, where they were researching Mantis’ past. Agatha – always supernaturally savvy about larger events – calmly informs Wanda that the Avengers are no longer in Vietnam, and in fact, are no longer on the Earth. 

Of course, we know Agatha is referring to the very public disappearance of the Avengers when Kang teleported them to Limbo to fight his Legion of the Unliving in Kang’s latest attempt to seize the Celestial Madonna. That attempt was thwarted thanks to help from Immortus, who, like Rama Tut II, was revealed as ANOTHER of Kang’s future selves. (Think of them as different “regenerations” of the same man like in Dr Who.)

We WILL learn how Rama Tut II went on to become Immortus before all this is through, but for right now, Immortus has reassembled the Avengers in his throne-room. Limbo itself exists outside of the time-stream but Immortus has allowed Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, the Vision and Mantis to sleep since their minds require it.

Refreshed (and presumably fed) the Avengers gather around as Immortus begins to make good on his promise to show the Vision and his past android self – the Original Human (really android) Torch – how their fates intertwined. Immortus also promised to provide Mantis and her fellow Avengers the truth about the Celestial Madonna.  

Immortus already sent the Original Human Torch back in time and now sends the Vision back the same way – clutching a Synchro-Staff , a baton-shaped staff that simultaneously transports the Vision through time as an observer AND provides him with narration in a robotic female voice like Siri.

Immortus gives Thor a Synchro-StaffImmortus says that the Vision must travel alone since his secrets are far too recent. Mantis, Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye can travel together with a Synchro-Staff of their own because the secrets of the Celestial Madonna began several millennia ago.

In an irresistible character bit from Hawkeye, after Immortus tells Thor to grasp the staff the archer says “I tried grasping the staff at the Playboy Club once …” But Immortus teleports the foursome away before we readers can catch the presumably dirty completion of the remark. Continue reading

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MANTIS 27: THE CAUSE OF THE VISION’S PROBLEMS AND THE SHOWDOWN WITH KANG’S LEGION

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

Giant Size Avengers 3GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 3 ( February 1975)  What Time Hath Put Asunder …

I will point out once again that the creative team at The Avengers did the best job of incorporating these short-lived “Giant Size” quarterlies into their ongoing storyline. And it certainly helped that they had a complex serial like the Celestial Madonna Saga running at the time that Marvel experimented with these Giant Size issues every 3 months. 

We pick up where we left off: in the labyrinthine catacombs beneath the castle of Immortus, the ruler of the realm of Limbo. That realm exists outside of the time-stream itself, making it the ideal battleground for Kang the Conqueror’s latest attempt to possess the Avenger named Mantis, the Celestial Madonna, and through their offspring have control of all space and time.  

Mantis and her fellow Avengers – Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye and the Vision – had been battling Kang’s Legion of the Unliving. That group consisted of six supervillains that Kang plucked from the time-stream mere nanoseconds before their violent deaths. If they help him obtain Mantis and kill the rest of the Avengers he’ll let them live. If not, he’ll simply return them to meet their deaths.

Mantis, led by the Vision’s scream of agony, found him lying near death after his battle with a member of Kang’s Legion. 

mantis-side-by-side.jpgWHAT TIME HATH PUT ASUNDER …

Synopsis: Mantis cradles the Vision’s dying body like she did with her lover the Swordsman several days earlier when he died at Kang’s hands. The Vision cannot move his android body and is delirious with pain.

He recounts to the now-weeping Mantis how he fought the Silver Surfer’s immensely powerful old foe the Ghost – one of Kang’s Legion of the Unliving. Even the Vision’s devastating tactic of plunging his intangible arm inside the Ghost’s torso and partially solidifying it could not defeat the villain.

That soldier of Kang then used the Vision’s own tactic against him, with the result that the Vision suffered so much damage from his foe’s arm that he is near death, while the Ghost simply vanished from the area.  

With his tale done the delirious Vision hallucinates that his beloved Wanda, the Scarlet Witch is the woman with him as he dies, not Mantis. Mantis redeems herself a bit more by painfully letting the Vision believe the happy but false impression.

(Wanda is really back at Avengers Mansion, still being tutored by the sorceress Agatha Harkness.)     

Soon Mantis’ grief is interrupted as she is attacked from behind by Midnight, the evil half-brother of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. Kang had plucked Midnight from his death hoping that Midnight’s martial arts skills would enable him to bring in Mantis alive to become Kang’s bride.

Mantis and Midnight do battle again, this time to the finish since their first battle was interrupted. The Vietnamese Avenger defeats the black-clad villain despite his use of weapons like Ninja Stars and nunchuku.

Again she wonders how her human weaknesses like the anger she just showed fighting Midnight qualify her to be the Celestial Madonna. Before she can pursue those thoughts she realizes the Vision’s dead body has been taken away by an unknown party.

Try though she may she cannot find the culprit in the confusing maze of tunnels and corridors. We readers get to see which member of the Legion of the Unliving absconded with the Vision’s corpse, however. Continue reading

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MANTIS 26: KANG WAR TWO

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

Avengers 132 Kang War IIAVENGERS Volume 1, Number 132 (February 1975)  Kang War Two

AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor, Iron Man, The Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, The Vision and MANTIS

We rejoin our heroes right where we left off last time around. Kang the Conqueror launched his second attempt to take the Celestial Madonna – Mantis – so that their offspring can provide him with control over all time and space.

Kang double-crossed his newfound ally Immortus, another old foe of the Avengers from years earlier. Using Immortus’ technology Kang then plucked six supervillains out of the time-stream just a nano-second before their violent deaths. He brought them to Immortus’ realm of Limbo, which exists outside of the time-stream.

Those six villains formed Kang’s Legion of the Unliving. Their motive for serving him: if they don’t help him kill the Avengers then Kang will simply transport them back to the moment he plucked them from and they’ll die.

Do what he commands and he’ll let them live, with no repercussions to the time-stream because of the control of time and space that Kang will have thanks to his and Mantis’ offspring.

Mantis story holcaustKang imprisoned Immortus next to his future self Rama Tut II, then hit the Avengers with one of Immortus’ teleportation rays. That ray abducted our heroes and deposited them in scattered, random locations in the endless catacombs and tunnels beneath Immortus’ castle.

Kang announced himself to the Avengers over the broadcast system in typically melodramatic and operatic fashion:  

KANG: Hear me, Avengers! You have defied my will for the final time! Here, lost and alone in the Labyrinth of Limbo, you will die at my direction and at the hands of the most relentless terrors you have ever faced!

So saying, Kang led his Legion of the Unliving into the catacombs to find Mantis and kill the other Avengers.

Kang War IIKANG WAR TWO

Synopsis: Kang, Baron Zemo, the Ghost (should be the Ghost Mariner), Midnight, the Original Android Version of the Human Torch and Wonder Man march swiftly through the dark maze of stone tunnels and corridors. 

In the rear, the final member of the Legion of the Unliving moves more sluggishly and falls behind. Continue reading

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MANTIS 24: THE SWORDSMAN’S FUNERAL AND THE MYSTERIES OF MANTIS’ PAST

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

Avengers 130 Titanic ThreeAVENGERS Volume 1, Number 130 (December 1974)  The Reality Problem 

AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Frank), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), The Vision (not applicable) and MANTIS (Mantis Brandt).

The Swordsman is dead. So is Moe Greene … Barzini … Tattaglia … All the heads of the Five Families. Today I settle all family business, Carlo, so don’t tell me you’re innocent. It insults my intelli- OH, sorry. I started channeling Michael Corleone there.  

In any event the Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne) IS dead, to begin with. As dead as a doornail. SORRY! I promise that’s the last time I’ll do that! The Swordsman was killed by Kang the Conqueror last time around, giving his life to save his beloved Mantis.

swordsman-funeral.jpgMantis, who was proven to be the mysterious Celestial Madonna that Kang is after, realized how much she really loved the Swordsman, despite her recent callousness toward him while she tried to romance the Vision away from the Scarlet Witch. She deeply regretted her actions, pleading with her dying lover to forgive her and to chalk it all up to her youthful pride. 

Two or three days have gone by since the Swordsman’s death in Peking as the Avengers battled Kang. Our heroes have been mourning the loss of their comrade while regrouping and trying to comprehend the universe-threatening situation they have found themselves in.

And there’s a lot to take in:

*** It’s the first time an Avenger has ever been killed in battle.

*** The Madonna Star continues to shine brightly over Avengers Mansion. Crowds remain thronged around the mansion for blocks because of this strange phenomenon which has spawned rumors that the End of the World is near.

*** The shocking death of an Avenger has added to the grim environment, magnifying global fears of imminent doom. The international tension caused by Kang’s attacks in Egypt, at the U.N. and in China doesn’t help any, either.

*** Kang is still at large and still determined to have the Celestial Madonna.

*** Exactly WHAT the Celestial Madonna IS and how she affects all time and space is still not known.

Mantis in action*** Exactly WHY Moon Dragon and the Scarlet Witch were having parallel experiences to Mantis’ own is still not known, either, but those parallel experiences added to the mystery of which one of them was really the Celestial Madonna.

*** The Vision and his teammates still cannot determine the cause of his recurring panic attacks/ deja vu traumas, more of which occurred while fighting Kang.

*** There is some speculation that the android Vision may be experiencing traumatic memories related to life experiences of the dead supervillain Wonder Man (Simon Williams), since HIS mental patterns were used for the Vision’s artificial intelligence. That was done back when Ultron-5 used them while creating the Vision as a weapon against the Avengers.   Continue reading

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MANTIS 23: KANG, THE CELESTIAL MADONNA AND THE DEATH OF AN AVENGER

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

Giant Size Avengers 2GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS Number 2 (November 1974)  A Blast From The Past

Call me crazy, but since this story includes that rarest of things: a superhero death that is final I would have gone with the title Death of an Avenger instead of a cliché like A Blast From The Past. 

Anyway … THINGS GET “TIMEY-WIMEY” FROM THIS POINT ON AS THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA CONTINUES!

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

Synopsis: Nighttime in New York. The former Avenger Hawkeye, who has also quit the Defenders since the last time we dealt with him, opens up this installment by capturing a gang of jewel thieves.

When he turns them over to the police those cops tell Hawkeye (who probably slept the day away after a night of partying) about the day’s big news: Kang the Conqueror is back and he kidnapped the Avengers that morning. Kang boasted of his plans to wage war against the entire planet while waiting for something called “the Celestial Madonna” to reveal herself.

Mantis as the MadonnaHawkeye rushes off to Avengers Mansion where – even from several blocks away – he can see the incredibly bright artificial satellite called the Madonna Star still blazing away. Anxious crowds still surround the area, drawn by fears that the star means the end of the world and by rumors of some kind of “Madonna.”   

Inside the mansion Hawkeye finds the Swordsman, the butler Jarvis and Pharaoh Rama Tut – Kang’s other self. (Explanation below.) The three bring Hawkeye up to date on everything from our last installment, including the increasingly tense international situation after the slaughter of Egyptian troops at the hands of Kang’s creation. Continue reading

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MANTIS 22: KANG THE CONQUEROR WANTS THE CELESTIAL MADONNA

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

Avengers 129 bid tomorrow goodbyeAVENGERS Volume 1, Number 129 (November 1974)  Bid Tomorrow Goodbye

AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Frank), The Vision (not applicable), The Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne) and MANTIS (Mantis Brandt).

BID TOMORROW GOODBYE

Synopsis: The story picks up where we left off last time. The Avengers and the sorceress Agatha Harkness – the Scarlet Witch’s mentor – have gathered outside Avengers Mansion. Stunned crowds of onlookers have gathered as well, in reaction to the incredibly bright artificial star that appeared over Avengers Mansion like a sci-fi version of the Star of Bethlehem.

Kang the Conqueror, a frequent foe of the Avengers, appeared on the scene, saying that the star was a signal to him. A signal that the time of the Celestial Madonna had arrived and that 20th Century Earth was ripe for conquest.

Kang the ConquerorNOTE: The Marvel Comics character Kang the Conqueror is a good example of ret-conning used in a SUCCESSFUL and REASONABLE way. Kang is the military dictator of 40th Century Earth and had often come back to conquer the 20th Century with his future technology.

When Kang first appeared in The Avengers in 1964 comic books were still considered to be “just for little kids.” This meant that in his early battles against the Avengers no mention was ever made of the familiar sci-fi concept that IF Kang had succeeded in taking over 20th Century Earth it would change the future so drastically that it might result in him NEVER EVEN BEING BORN.

As I said, back in the early to mid 1960s Marvel Comics administrators were still abiding by the conventional wisdom that comic books should be targeted JUST at children who were 10 or 11 or younger. Such children were not expected to see through the flaws of simplistic stories, so comic books stayed “dumb” which kept limiting their audience to little kids in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Stan Lee, whose animated corpse makes cameo appearances in Marvel movies (I’m kidding) was famous for trying to introduce more complex stories that might appeal to older audiences. Stan the Man felt comics could appeal to all ages just like sci-fi tv shows like Star Trek and many others. 

MantisMarvel thrived with that approach from the late 1960s onward. This brings us back to Kang the Conqueror’s role in the Celestial Madonna storyline. The creative team at The Avengers back then used this tale to ret-con WHY Kang attacked the 20th Century so often AND provided a reason why he could feel secure that it would not endanger his existence in any way. (Details below.)

Back to the story: The Avengers attack Kang, whose high-tech armor is beyond even Doctor Doom’s (except when other stories call for it NOT to be). That armor – as usual – enables Kang to go blow for blow with our heroes.  Continue reading

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MANTIS 21: NECRODAMUS ATTACKS

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

Avengers 128 bewitched, botheredAVENGERS Volume 1, Number 128 (October 1974)  Bewitched, Bothered … and Dead

I’m sure Marvel Comics gave special thanks to Quinn Martin for providing the title to this particular story. Yes, it’s a play on the usual “bewitched, bothered and bewildered.”  

ANYWAY, WE ARE IN THE HOME STRETCH OF THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA! MISS A CHAPTER FROM NOW TO THE END AND YOU’LL BE CONFUSED.

BEWITCHED, BOTHERED … AND DEAD

Synopsis: Nighttime on the rooftop of Avengers Mansion. The Avengers and Fantastic Four have just returned from the wedding of the former Avenger Quicksilver and the Inhuman woman named Crystal. The Avengers traveled in their Quin-Jet and the Fantastic Four – oddly enough – in their roofless Fantasticar.

Mantis xxxxThe two teams are hanging out chit-chatting before the FF will head home to the Baxter Building. As Midnight arrives a supernatural lightning storm strikes, threatening the lives of members from both teams with its repeated and tightly placed lightning bolts. Continue reading

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