Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

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 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 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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MANTIS 20: ULTRON VS THE AVENGERS, THE FANTASTIC FOUR AND THE INHUMANS

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

Fantastic Four 150

FANTASTIC FOUR Volume 1, Number 150 (September 1974)  Ultron-7: He’ll Rule The World

Just like during the Avengers/ Defenders War this crossover story alternated between the Avengers’ comic book and in this case the Fantastic Four’s comic book. In fact it was the 150th Anniversary Issue for the F.F, an appropriate setting for the momentous events in this story.

NOTE: This was back when Ultron was still numbering his iterations, hence him going by “Ultron-7” here. For instance, Ultron-6 was the first time the android villain used adamantium for his body and Ultron-5 was when he created the Vision to use against his archenemies the Avengers.

Ironically, though today Marvel’s fictional metal adamantium is mostly associated with Wolverine’s claws and skeleton it was actually introduced as a new discovery in the pages of The Avengers in the 1960s. In fact it was introduced in the very story in which Ultron stole some of the indestructible metal to make himself even more dangerous.

After this current Ultron-7 story, when Ultron returned for the long-running Bride of Ultron storyline he was no longer  numbering his versions.   

Ultron 7 againULTRON-7: HE’LL RULE THE WORLD

Synopsis: We pick up where we left off in our previous installment, in Atillan aka The Great Refuge, hidden home of the Inhumans. It’s the night before the former Avenger Quicksilver and the Inhuman named Crystal are to be married.

Crystal has been kidnapped by the gigantic robot called Omega, but after a battle with the Inhumans plus the wedding guests – the Avengers and Fantastic Four – the enormous figure pulled off its mask to reveal that it was really Ultron-7. (Nicely, this was early enough in Marvel’s history that Ultron had previously never fought the Fantastic Four OR the Inhumans, just the Avengers.)

Ultron-7 taunts the assembled heroes plus the thousands of terrified citizens of Atillan about how they gathered for a wedding but instead of that joyous occasion have found only horror, defeat and death.

Mantis againHe revives the heroes he had put into comas last time around – MANTIS, Iron Man, Medusa, Quicksilver and the Swordsman. Meanwhile the Thing rushes forward to attack Ultron-7 but is easily defeated as the villain reminds him that the Omega body now has all of HIS (Ultron’s) powers, not the lesser powers it used to have.

Before the Thing or any other heroes can renew the attack, Thor, Mister Fantastic and Triton remind everyone that only Ultron-7 knows where the kidnapped Crystal is being held. The villain has the edge until they can learn if she is even still alive.       Continue reading

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MANTIS 19: THE WEDDING OF QUICKSILVER AND THE INHUMAN CRYSTAL

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

Avengers 127AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 127 (September 1974)  Bride and Doom

AVENGERS ROSTER (Friends of the Groom): 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)

FANTASTIC FOUR ROSTER (Friends of the Bride): Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards, PhD), Invisible Woman (Sue Storm Richards), The Thing (Ben Grimm), The Human Torch 2 (Johnny Storm), Medusa (not applicable), Franklin Richards and Agatha Harkness 

INHUMANS ROYAL FAMILY (Family of the Bride): Black Bolt (King), Medusa (Royal Consort temporarily serving in the Fantastic Four), Gorgon, Triton, Karnak and Maximus the Mad  

BRIDE AND DOOM

Gorgon mad at PietroSynopsis: At Avengers Mansion the six current team members are at the dinner table for a turkey meal prepared by Jarvis, their butler. Suddenly, Gorgon, a member of the Inhumans (movie coming soon) and Lockjaw the car-sized teleporting dog appear in the room.

Gorgon had Lockjaw teleport the two of them to Avengers Mansion to pick up the team and bring them to the Inhumans’ hidden futuristic city the Great Refuge. He is surprised to find that Quicksilver (Pietro Frank), their former member and Wanda’s brother, did NOT tell them about the impending wedding of Pietro to Crystal, one of the Inhumans.  

Mantis Action figure 2Quicksilver, in spite of the hatred he and the Scarlet Witch had always endured for being mutants, harbored such intense bigotry over Wanda’s romance with the android Vision that he had cut off all ties with her months earlier. The Scarlet Witch is driven to tears at the realization that he didn’t even invite her to his upcoming wedding.

Gorgon expresses his own outrage, making it clear that Pietro’s usual jerkish attitude has already alienated him (Gorgon) and the rest of the Royal Family and that they only tolerate Quicksilver for their cousin Crystal’s sake. Mantis calms the Inhuman down and the Scarlet Witch announces that the Avengers will happily accompany Gorgon back to the Great Refuge in the Himalayas.   Continue reading

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