A Look Back at Mantra #5 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, Ultraverse fans and comic book collectors! Would you happen to be a fan of illustrator Terry Dodson? I first saw his professional work when I read Mantra #1 way back in 1993 just as my fellow comic book collectors were discovering the newly launched Ultraverse. After the Ultraverse ended, Dodson went on to work for Marvel Comics with projects such as the Storm mini-series and X-Men related comic books. In 2000, Dodson went to DC Comics and his project with them was illustrating issues of the Harley Quinn series. He even got to work on Wonder Woman comic books six years later.

You must be wondering – how did Terry Dodson first broke into the comic book industry and what was his first project? Check out this excerpt from a published interview.

How did you break into comic books?

By doing portfolio samples and taking them to conventions and showing them around. At first it was difficult to hear the critiques, but later on that’s what I wanted to know. What I was doing wrong. Fortunately, when I broke in 1993, they were handing out jobs to anybody with a pulse. I got my first job on Mantra, for the new Malibu Ultraverse.

See? It turns out Mantra of the Ultraverse was his comic book debut.

Now that the history lesson is done, we can see more of Dodson’s work on Mantra in the look back at Mantra #5, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins when a man named Strauss faces Mantra and Warstryke. The armed guy presses Strauss for details about some defective merchandise while Mantra mentions to him about their deal. Strauss shows defiance by defending himself with a green field to protect him. Mantra blocks the flow of air into the field, forcing Strauss to give up and lose his protective field.

After a short talk with Strauss, Mantra and Warstrike chat on top of the building. In reaction to Mantra’s handshake as a sign of thanks for helping, the armed guy tries to get sexually involved with the mystical warrior even though he knows Mantra has a male soul occupying a woman’s body. Mantra defies him and flies away.

Along the way, a demon spots Mantra flying through the air. It turns out he has been looking for her and decides to make a move in pursuit of her…

Quality

What do I think about the story by Mike W. Barr? I find it brilliantly written. As the cliffhanger ending of issue #4 got resolved early, the narrative smoothly shifts into Mantra’s other struggle – being a mother to Eden Blake’s children whom she lost quality time with due to superhero pursuits. There was also this really compelling drama between Eden and her mother (who in turn believes her daughter is failing her responsibility as a parent).

Lukasz – the male soul in Eden/Mantra’s beautiful body – is still obsessed with pursuing his search for answers but even so, he cannot simply abandon the family and household of the woman whose soul he displaced. In this particular comic book, Lukasz continued to adjust in his unexpected life as Eden.

I really like the way Mike W. Barr dramatized Lukasz dealing with family matters as well as career matters. All that led to what I would call the most unexpected superhero misadventures I’ve ever read that has something to do with the dimension of hand-drawn animation. That is something you, my readers, should read to find out. It is something very enjoyable!

In terms of visuals, this comic book showed more of the creativity of Terry Dodson. If you already enjoyed his art in the early Mantra issues, you will see something new and fresh here.

Conclusion

Mantra returns home to the family.

Undoubtedly Mantra #5 is a great comic book to read as it has an excellent mix of drama, intrigue, characterization and many bouts of great spectacle (which nicely paid-off on all the build-up). By this stage in the Mantra monthly series, Lukasz/Eden/Mantra got developed more and the stakes have been raised in relation to Eden’s meeting with her boss.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #5 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Mantra #5 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

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