Balladeer’s Blog’s summer-long exploration of Marvel Comics’ Celestial Madonna Saga of 1973-1975 wrapped up last Saturday. For a light-hearted “dessert” after that 31-part examination here’s a look at a ONE-ISSUE tie-in from 1977 that Steve Englehart, the writer of much of the Celestial Madonna Saga, wrote for the Justice League of America (as it was then called) at his NEW employers: rival comic book company DC.
So let’s be clear: this is NOT the Celestial Quest that Marvel Comics did DECADES later to bring back the character of Mantis long after she and her Cotati husband had offspring. This was Englehart tongue-in-cheekly presenting the Justice League helping a woman who was CLEARLY supposed to be Mantis – right down to her powers and her repeated tendency to refer to herself as “this one.”
Remember, this was 1977, long before Marvel and DC would do outright crossovers and meetings between their characters on a semi-regular basis. Englehart had to be careful to a certain degree since Mantis was a copyrighted character owned by his previous employers at Marvel.
His way of doing that is often pretty cutesy, like having his Mantis stand-in get interrupted at key moments when she’s about to answer very specific questions about herself and her background.
So relax – this was just a one-shot deal, so no need to commit anything to memory, just smile at Englehart using the Justice League at DC in a tacked-on Celestial Madonna epilogue two years later.
RETURN FROM FOREVER
Synopsis: Aqua-Man, the Atom and Elongated Man are enjoying a quiet moment sailing around off the coast of Georgia. Their relaxation is interrupted by a battle overhead as two spaceships pursue, fight and shoot down a third alien craft of exotic design.
The three JLAers spring into action, with the Atom and Elongated Man driving off the intelligent robots in the other two spaceships and Aqua-Man trying to save any passengers on the shot-down – and now sinking – third craft. There is only one passenger: a beautiful woman who says to call her “Willow” to keep her true identity a secret from any deadly forces that may try to trail her around the cosmos.
In a coincidental bit of prescience regarding future depictions of Mantis when Marvel Comics finally brought her back (left), Willow has GREEN skin. She also has what appear to be antennae peeping out from under her pile of hair as a nod to Mantis’ pronounced antennae (again, at left).
She has highly attuned empathy with the world around her AND is skilled at an other-worldly version of Martial Arts. Willow formerly “joined” with a mate and transcended normal modes of existence, passing out into space. (Just like Mantis and her Cotati husband did after they were wed by Immortus.)
And the sly dance continues! Willow tells the three Justice League members “This one has come from a place she must not name and needs your help.” Continue reading