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Crossovers between major individual characters and major superhero teams within the Ultraverse are often fun to read mainly due to the high talents involved who made such fantasy concepts good. Before, The Strangers had a crossover with Hardcase followed by another crossover with Prototype. This time, the superhero team will have their first crossover adventurer together with another major Ultraverse characters…Mantra!
You must be wondering who are what will Mantra and the Strangers be facing. We will find out in this look back at The Strangers #13, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Mike Gustovich.
The story begins inside a facility when the Strangers are surprised by the arrival of police cars outside. Upon meeting the police captain named Rome, the Strangers learn that the police need their help as an evil ultra is on its way to San Francisco.
As the Strangers scramble, Mantra’s foe Boneyard is inside a commercial airline and his presence easily disturbs the passengers. Boneyard punches a man for raising his voice and telling him to put down a child he carried. Boneyard is carrying a young boy using him to have leverage over the passengers and the flight crew.
Some time later, the airplane lands on the tarmac of the airport and Boneyard comes down as the Strangers and the police await him. It turns out, Mantra’s foe wanted a meeting which baffles the Strangers. Boneyard tells them that their actions let some demons free and have placed his life in grave dangers.
As Boneyard and the Strangers talk, Eden Blake watches intensely and changes into Mantra…
This comic book’s story is very well written and it should not be surprising given Steve Englehart’s extensive experience as a writer. He really knows how to structure carefully a plot, get different superheroes get together and work for a common cause. That being said, Boneyard’s entry into the pages of The Strangers series was notably seamless (note: Mike W. Barr of the Mantra series was the one who developed Boneyard as the villain) and believable. When he met the Strangers, I sensed tension brewing which eventually turned into excitement once Mantra (who encountered The Strangers during the Break-Thru crossover) gets involved.
Character interactions, especially between Mantra and the Strangers members, is quite engaging to read. While the most sensible conversation Mantra had was with Electrocute, her talk with Spectral was the most awkward. There really is something worth reading.
When it comes to the artwork, Mike Gustovich’s work is serviceable at best. He worked on this comic book as a guest illustrator temporarily taking over the place of regular artist Rick Hoberg. His art is not bad, just satisfactory.
The Strangers #13 is entertaining on its own and the fact is it is only the first part of the Mantra-Strangers crossover. It is a solid start to say the least, and I should state that Steve Englehart captured nicely the respective personalities of Mantra and Boneyard, and he succeeded in mixing up the said ultra with the team. This comic book, by the way, is one of Malibu Comics’ flipside issues (a 2-in-1 comic book with each side being its own issue) and on the other side was Ultraverse Premiere #4. The Ultraverse Premiere side has a main story featuring Prime and a short story focused on Lady Killer of The Strangers.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #13 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy costs $8.
Overall, The Strangers #13 (1994) is recommended.
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