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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! We are about continue the retro review of comics from the Mantra monthly series. Previously, details and a close friend of Eden Blake from her past came back which obviously caught Lukasz (the male warrior occupying Eden’s body since issue #1) off-guard and added further pressure on him. And then something happened during the wedding of that close friend which compelled Mantra to fight someone in armor which eventually led to some revelations.
What will happen next to Mantra? We can all find out in this look back at Mantra #10, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and illustrated by Rob Phipps (who illustrated Mantra #4). This comic book is another one of those flip-side comics with the other side being Ultraverse Premiere #2 which contains short stories within the Ultraverse.
The story begins in the middle of a city when a man arrives at his office at a place called the Conjurirs’ Club. Upon entering, he is surprised to see three sinister looking men and one of them identifies him by his name – Edgar Strauss. Refusing to give in to them, Strauss puts up a seraphic shield. One of the magic users hits Strauss with force pushing him into his office chair. A servant of Strauss comes into the office but is confronted by another man with a hideous looking chest. Strauss suddenly gets overwhelmed with visions. In response to his question, the three men wanted information about Mantra whom they describe to be a witch.
Over at the Blake residence, Lukasz/Eden wakes up after having a very disturbing dream. It turns out, the dream had been repeating. Looking at the mirror, he sees Eden’s face and thought to himself: Still, it’s not much worse than my life which is a nightmare. I’m a warrior. I should be fighting the foes of Archimage with broadswords and mace…instead I was reincarnated as a woman – Eden, a housewife…worse, a housewife with kids!
After going through the morning traditions of feeding Eden’s son and daughter, sending them to school and getting dressed for work, he reports to work at the office inside the highly secured facility of Aladdin in southern California. While working as Eden, Lukasz uses magic to access the digital files via the computer. Suddenly, someone touches his shoulder from behind…
I’ll start first with the art. Robb Phipps, like his previous Mantra work, delivered a fine job visualizing the script with a smooth pace, drawing spectacle nicely and making Mantra and the established characters look recognizable. I also like the way the artist drew facial expressions.
When it comes to the story, this one is even more intriguing and surprising than issue #9. The startling revelations from Lukasz’s past and his history with his tribe under Archimage expanded further here and this added more to the conflict with Boneyard. These revelations confirmed that not everything in the Archimage-Boneyard war is as simple as black and white. When it comes to characterization, Mike W. Barr really developed Lukasz in Eden’s body further and it was pretty notable to see Lukasz (who was oriented to fight with weapon instead of magic) become more adjusted using magic more proficiently while getting around the physical weakness of the lady’s body he is occupying.
As mentioned before, sorcery is an abomination in Christianity and this comic book further adds elements of the occult into the narrative. There was even a short scene of Boneyard (himself an abomination) in a location that looks like Hell.
If I were to describe Mantra #10 (1994), it’s an obvious shift to more fantasy and sorcery elements than the previous issues. It certainly is not a tale about good-versus-evil because Mantra is not exactly innocent (note: Lukasz is an established killer and has displaced so many people’s lives) even when compared to Boneyard. Technically, Boneyard is pretty much the Ultraverse version of Satan.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #10 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $12.
Overall, Mantra #10 (1994) is satisfactory.
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