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Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! In my recent reviews of the Mantra monthly series, the events of the Archimage Quest were examined. For the newcomers reading this, Archimage is the leader of the tribe of warriors that Lukasz served for fifteen centuries. As told in issue #1, Boneyard neutralized Archimage’s power and Lukasz died one last time in a male body only to be reincarnated as a woman (displacing the soul of single mother Eden Blake). As it turned out, the transfer of Lukasz’s soul into Eden Blake’s body was planned by Archimage some time prior.
The Archimage Quest lasted several chapters and one of them took place in a one-shot Mantra comic book. With the details laid down, here is a look back at Giant Size Mantra, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Mike Heike (1st half) and David Williams (2nd half).
The story begins with Mantra (wearing original costume) waking up in the presence of a lady wearing white. Upon waking, Mantra sees her and recognizes her from some time back at the Moon (refer to Mantra #6). The lady turns out to be none other than Eden Blake whose soul Lukasz displaced.
Mantra, now wearing a new costume, wakes up suddenly. A short time has passed since she left The Strangers during the previous encounter with Boneyard and now she finds herself trapped in dream-like place. Being really the man (Lukasz) inside the body, Mantra does what she can to break out of the place…
There is no surprise that Mike W. Barr’s writing remains strongly solid. The story is really engaging from start to finish and by this time, Barr not only knew the characters well but also showed clear signs that he prepared how to portray the characters as the story of Mantra continues. Here are further good news…Barr wrote a pretty expansive story that is worthy of this one-shot comic book that has almost 40 pages of content (told in two portions). While the first half told briefly what happened between The Strangers #13 and this comic book, and had Mantra discovering a brand new science fantasy realm with two cities (one male, one female), the second half was were the narrative really became more fantastic especially since this comic book marked the debut of Topaz (who went on to become a key member of the UltraForce) not to mention the introduction of not one but two different societies separated by gender and city walls. To see Topaz and her society of women comes with vibes of Wonder Woman and Themyscira.
The pace of the story ranged from moderate to fast, and Mike W. Barr carefully took his time with the exposition, the spectacle, the characterization and the sense of discovery with the new realm. This is a story worthy of the one-shot format and as a Mantra story, it clearly stands out and fits in well with the main narrative in the monthly series.
When it comes to the art, Mike Heike and David Williams did good jobs visualizing the script. Most notably, their art really brought the fantasy realm (as well as the two societies and cities) to life.
I can say that Giant Size Mantra (1994) is a pretty good comic book to read. Its overall concept and high-quality script made it a very worthy one-shot comic book. While this story is not the conclusion of the Archimage Quest, it serves as a turning point in the life of Mantra and the results can be seen in subsequent issues of the monthly series.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Giant Size Mantra (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.
Overall, Giant Size Mantra (1994) is recommended.
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