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Hey everyone! Welcome back to my continuing effort on reviewing Ultraverse comic books of Malibu Comics from the 1990s. This time we will continue on the crossover between Mantra and The Strangers that started in The Strangers #13.
What I enjoyed most in The Strangers #13 is the interaction between Mantra and members of the superhero team as well as how Boneyard (mortal enemy of Mantra’s) impacts them. It comes to show that careful research of the characters and planning were done to ensure not only a very good story but one that makes mixing Mantra and the Strangers together memorable.
Will the high quality of story, art and crossing over continue? We can find out in the 2nd chapter of the Mantra-Strangers crossover in Mantra #12, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and illustrated by Terry Dodson.
The story begins with Mantra and the Strangers facing Boneyard, his companions and demons. Boneyard has Atom Bob held captive for his magic use. Determined to kill Boneyard, Mantra draws first blood by blasting one of the demons. Due to having weakened powers, Mantra struggles in battle until Electrocute helps taking the other demons off.
As the battle goes on, Boneyard (aided with Notch’s power) makes his move towards Mantra and touches her body with his….
The script written by Mike W. Barr (in coordination with Steve Englehart of The Strangers) is pretty solid in the sense that it took the interactions between Mantra and the Strangers a few levels deeper which paved the way for some character revelations and further development of varied personalities. To say the least, this one is pretty wordy and there was clear effort to define the characters even as the struggle went on. There were also common things between Boneyard and Yrial that was nicely explored when it comes to their respective abilities.
This comic book daringly touched on gender issues, particularly with the ever unholy topic of homosexuality (note: read 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 in the Holy Bible) and even rape. There was this lesbian kiss scene between Electrocute and Mantra. Also it is made clear that even though Boneyard knows Mantra really is male warrior Lukasz occupying a female body, the said villain still wants to mate with the protagonist.
On the visuals, I found this one really looking odd even though it was credited to Terry Dodson. His art here really looked cartoony, so much so it’s almost as if someone else drew it. Try comparing Dodson’s art here with what he did in issue #1 and you will see what I mean.
While it is well written, I should say that the crossover between the protagonist and the featured superhero team could have ended better. Compared to the conclusions of the Prototype-Strangers and Hardcase-Strangers crossovers, Mantra #12 ended up lacking punch. As an anniversary issue, it is serviceable.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #12 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy costs $8.
Overall, Mantra #12 (1994) is recommended.
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