A Look Back at Mantra #10 (1994)

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 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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

Mantra using a piece of the armor that the antagonist in issue #9 used.

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.

Conclusion

Homosexuality hinted on the part of the man? Insanity perhaps?

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Prototype #13 (1994)

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 superhero geeks, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse. In this latest Ultraverse-related retro comic book review, we will check out what happened to Prototype and his companions after the events that took place in issue #12. I personally enjoyed that particular comic book and it has been almost three months since I last reviewed an issue of Prototype.

Now we can start this look back at Prototype #13, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Len Strazewski and drawn by Dean Zachary.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with TV news coverage of an explosion that happened at one of the buildings along Wall Street. The TV newscaster reports that another battle between ultras rocked the headquarters of Ultratech in downtown Manhattan which sparks rumors of corporate infighting.

Behind the scenes at the corporate tower, Jimmy Ruiz/Prototype, Bob Campbell/Ranger and Felicia Campbell discuss matters in front of the robot Prototype 2000 (the same machine responsible for the loss of Bob’s arm) which projects an image of Ultratech chairman Gordon Bell as its head. They noticed that the robot thinks and acts like Gordon Campbell, even going as far as calling the name of a secretary who left the company some years back. Felicia believes the robot has some sort of body detachment syndrome. For Bob, it does not matter as Gordon Bell still owns a controlling interest in the corporation.

After some intense talk, Jimmy uses his Prototype armor switch off Prototype 2000 but got blasted by energy which pushed him back to Bob and Felicia. Prototype 2000 then shows the virtual Gordon Bell telling “Katie” to turn the TV on so he can see how the company stock is performing…

Quality

How do you you deal with a machine that actually thinks and acts like a human?

I can declare that Len Strazewski really ramped up the corporate intrigue several notches high in this particular issue. There is a lot of corporate world talk and the good news here was that nothing ended up being boring. The most notable aspect of the story was the presence of Prototype 2000 with the mind of Gordon Bell really reacting to the corporate developments. Of course, there was still sufficient focus on the protagonist Prototype piloted by Jimmy Ruiz. At this stage of the Prototype series, Jimmy has gone through not only many battles using the powered suit of armor but several setbacks in his personal life. Apart from the turmoil at Ultratech, Jimmy not only has to keep his job but also save his reputation. Not to be outdone is Bob Campbell (the original Prototype pilot) whose relationship with Felicia got developed a bit more and their exchange of dialogue was nicely written.

Within the story is a major twist that really added a whole lot of depth into the narrative. It’s a twist that I did not anticipate and I strongly recommend you discover it yourselves once you read this comic book. Oh, and there is a certain supporting character from the Mantra series who also appeared here.

As for the art, Dean Zachary did a descent job visualizing Len Strazewski’s script and capturing the typical smooth sequencing of Prototype in action scenes. There is enough scenes of spectacle here to keep you entertained.

Conclusion

Jimmy Ruiz, Bob Campbell and Felicia discuss matters in the presence of virtual Gordon Bell.

I can say that I had a blast reading Prototype #13 (1994). To put things in perspective, this one is just a part of the Hostile Takeover storyline that eventually connected with other characters of the Ultraverse such as the Night Man and The Solution (a heroes-for-hire team). The writing of Len Strazewski is so good, this one is worth reading all over again. It should be noted that topics like corporate intrigue or business world internal affairs got presented with a strong flavor of superhero stuff that prevented the story from turning into a bore. This is one intriguing and compelling read. Lastly, I should state that this comic book is one of those Ultraverse Premiere flipside issues, the other side of which contained short stories about Iron Clad, Pixx of UltraForce, Flood and Lady Killer of The Strangers.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #13 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, Prototype #13 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #9 (1994)

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 superhero geeks, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! Can’t get enough of Mantra? There is a lot to look forward to in my latest review of the Mantra monthly series of the 1990s under the creative leadership of Mike W. Barr.

In Mantra #8, the male soul in the lady’s body had an encounter with Boneyard’s soldiers in a fantasy-themed amusement park which was a very intriguing setting considering the mysticism the series often used. Will there be another intriguing event that awaits Mantra? Find out in this look back at Mantra #9, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra arriving home from battle during the evening. Using magical powers, she instantly changes her clothes to become Eden Blake. As she approaches the entrance, she thought to herself, “It’s hard to believe I’m really a man, wearing the body of Eden Blake. I hope I don’t have to live her life much longer.”

Suddenly a ball of light arrives and Mantra senses it to be an attack. After instantly changing into her armor, she strikes the ball with the sword of fangs, zaps it and watches it fly away. She instantly changes back to Eden Black and enters the home.

Upon entering, she gets a surprise hug by Eden Blake’s old roommate Lila and guy named Jim. Lila reveals that she and Jim are going to get married, and Eden will get to be their maid of honor.

Lukasz, who has been living in Eden’s body for some time now, finds the situation uncomfortable…

Quality

The male warrior Lukasz (occupying Eden Blake’s body) taking part in preparation for Lila’s wedding.

This one has a truly intriguing story about Lukasz struggling not only with being a mother in the body of Eden Blake, but also with dealing with one of Eden’s closest friends in life. It is very cleverly written by Mike W. Barr and the core concept of the story really developed Lukasz/Mantra in a rather refreshing way. In many ways, Lukasz does not find himself trapped by Boneyard’s armed soldiers nor by monsters, rather he finds himself trapped by remnants of Eden’s past (imagine him pretending to remember Eden’s old friends) while dealing with all the pre-wedding preparations. If you expect the usual spectacle of action and sorcery, you will find them here. Who exactly will Mantra fight, that you should find out yourself and there is something here that will convince you to go back reading issue #1.

When it comes to the art, I find it baffling that this one was credited to Terry Dodson. The art here is cartoony in style and Dodson’s art in the first few issues of the Mantra series were more realistic in style, especially with the way people were drawn.  

Conclusion

Some pictures from Eden Blake’s past.

For its story concept alone, Mantra #9 (1994) is an engaging read. I also enjoyed the way this issue connects itself to key details in issues #1, #3 and #5 which encourages re-reading that ultimately will help readers understand the series concept even more. There is also a nice mix of action and drama, and the way the battle concluded is pretty satisfying. Furthermore, the continued development of Mantra is a must-read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #9 (1994), 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 #9 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #8 (1994)

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 superhero comic collectors! Today, we will revisit the Mantra monthly series again and it has been almost two weeks since my last Mantra review. For the newcomers reading this, Mantra’s mortal enemy is Boneyard who got involved in the Mantra-Strangers crossover (refer to The Strangers #13 and Mantra #12).

Before those mentioned stories took place, something else happened involving Boneyard. That is what we will find out in this look back at Mantra #8, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by John Statema (who was involved in UltraForce #2).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in an unknown location with Boneyard who commands Notch to speak as his patience dwindles. Notch states that he has devised a plane to capture the ever elusive Mantra (male warrior Lukasz occupying the body of Eden Blake) involving a betrayal by a friend. Notch requests for a few troops and the custody of the creature in cell 13. Boneyard reacts by saying that if Notch succeeds, he will have Mantra after she has borne an offspring for him )Boneyard). Failure would mean Notch will become occupant of cell 14.

Elsewhere Warstrike (riding with a lady) drives his car fast getting away from the car of armed men chasing him. The chase ends with a crash of two cars freeing Warstrike. Some time later, Warstrike arrives home and to his surprise, Mantra is already there. He gets kissed by Mantra (emphasizing a touch of homosexuality) and asked about a change of her attitude. As it turns out, the Mantra who made sexual advances to him transforms into a grotesque creature with lots of tentacles. Warstrike then realizes it was not really Mantra at all. Eventually, the creature wraps itself all over Warstrike. Notch suddenly appears and blows a substance to him.

The next morning, Eden Blake/Mantra arrives at the office catching everyone’s attention due to her beauty and sexy outfit. Eden suddenly notices that everyone around looks like Warstrike. Suspecting that what is happening is the manifestation of magic, she goes to her office to find answers…

Quality

Even though she has magic, Mantra still is physically weaker which Lukasz has trouble adjusting with.

Getting straight to the point with regards to the story, this one has a nice mix of action, intrigue, suspense and the search for answers. It also pays attention to the very awkward alliance between Mantra and Warstrike. Warstrike was the last person to have killed Lukasz in his male form which led to him getting reincarnated as Eden Blake (displacing Eden’s soul) and in this story, you will see he even has sexual interest with her even though he knows Lukasz is occupying that beautiful body. This comic book also shows how powerful a villain Boneyard is and how his soldiers are willing to do his commands. With regards to the locations, I should state that the use of a fantasy-themed amusement park in the story is an excellent concept to emphasize this comic book’s fantasy elements.

When it comes to the art, it is no surprise that John Statema did a pretty good job in capturing the looks of Mantra and the related characters, and his pacing of the visuals is similar to that of Terry Dodson. Statema worked on several other Ultraverse comic books including The Solution #6 which looked great and his art really brought the script to life. Mantra, Boneyard, Warstrike and other relevant characters look recognizable with Statema’s style. The artist also excelled in drawing fantasy visual elements like magic, swords, armor, monsters, etc.

Conclusion

Eden Blake is the center of attention at the office.

I can clearly say that Mantra #8 (1994) is an entertaining comic book to read. It has a self-contained story that is very well told and John Statema’s art made it a lively read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #8 (1994), 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 #8 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #6 (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.

Hey Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book collectors! Are you interested in another look at the Break-Thru crossover through the eyes of Mantra? For the newcomers reading this, Break-Thru was a year-ending crossover that literally gathered many of the Ultraverse characters together in an event that affected their world. The said crossover impacted other characters of the Ultraverse through specific comic books such as Prototype #5, Hardcase #7, The Strangers #7 and Solitaire #2 to name some.

Now we have here is another view of Break-Thru in this look back at Mantra #6, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra flying during the night thinking about what happened as several Ultras made their way to the moon to fight an entity there that has been mentally contacting a girl named Amber. She thought about her new career at Aladdin as Eden Blake and intends to find ways to transfer her mind into a male body somehow.

Mantra arrives home and instantly changes appearance into Eden in civilian clothes. Upon entering the home, her little daughter (note: nobody in her family is aware that Eden’s soul has been displaced with that of Lukasz’s soul) arrives to greet her back in the presence of Eden’s mother. The daughter is every excited to start making Christmas cookies.

After spending some time alone in the bedroom, Mantra realizes something on the moon and decides to leave pretending she has to go back to work. This saddens Eden’s daughter…

Quality

Mantra in the middle of somewhere.

This comic book is not the good-versus-evil type of story. Rather it is more about personal struggle and threads from the past that challenge Mantra, and it is well written. At the same time, the story serves as a build-up leading to the big events that took place in Break-Thru #2 (the conclusion of the big crossover). Getting to know the entity through the experience and view of Mantra is alone a solid reason to read this comic book. In fact, what you will learn here will help you prepare yourself to understand the Break-Thru crossover comic books and the concepts they featured.

Conclusion

Another glimpse on the life of Eden Blake and her family.

Mantra #6 (1993) is an engaging and enjoyable read. It is not only a mere build-up for Break-Thru, it also reveals more about Lukasz (who occupies the body of Eden/Mantra) and why his past haunts him which alone adds a new layer of depth to his character. There are few scenes of spectacle here and there but the strong writing by Mike W. Barr saved it from becoming a complete bore.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of this comic book costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #6 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Prime #8 (1994)

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.

Is Prime your favorite caped hero among the many heroes of the Ultraverse? For the newcomers reading this, Prime is an overly muscular hero of the Ultraverse who is actually a kid deep inside his fake flesh. Prime was one of the major heroes of the Ultraverse and was part of UltraForce alongside Hardcase and Prototype (two other major heroes).

In late 1993, a 2-part Ultraverse crossover was published titled Break-Thru and, with the art of the legendary George Perez, it was a big mix of characters from the UV. Prime had a role in Break-Thru and we can see what happened to him after the end of the said crossover in this look back at Prime #8 published in 1994 by Malibu Comics and written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones with art done by the late Norm Breyfogle.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space with Prime and Prototype re-entering planet Earth. With the heat intensifying, Prime is worried that he won’t be able to make it safely on earth. Prototype, who is flying behind him, wonders if Prime knows what he is doing by leading the way. Prototype’s life is at stake as he relies on Prime to be his flying front shield (note: for the way the flight turned out in Prototype’s perspective, read Prototype #6).

Due to the instability and intense heat, the two ultras got separated flying down. Remembering the strip of Mantra’s cape, Prime uses it and manages to receive faint communication with Mantra. Prime eventually crashes into a swimming pool. With Prime’s flesh quickly dissolving, teenage Kevin Green is exposed naked underwater and struggles. Suddenly, water pushes him up several feet and finds himself being assisted by Mantra.

The naked Kevin is carried by Mantra who transform herself into Eden Blake…

Quality

The pressure on the parents of Kevin.

Storywise, this one is a solid follow-up to the Break-Thru crossover and it succeeds in developing Prime further thanks to the combined efforts of Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones. With the narrative shifted away from Break-Thru, the story emphasizes the actions of the covert operations led by Colonel Samuels who simply won’t let Prime go free given the US government’s interests. What Samuels does not know is that someone sinister and hidden is spying on their operations. That someone is also interested in Prime and this alone added a lot of intrigue into the story.

As usual, the character development is very solid. I love the way Strazewski and Jones raise the stakes on the parents of Kevin and made them more troubled knowing their son’s involvement with the military. Kevin’s father, meanwhile, is living with the guilt of keeping the big secrets of the past.

When it comes to crossovers and interactions, the exchange between Kevin/Prime and Eden/Mantra is very compelling to read. Mantra, who knows Prime’s secret, tries to keep her identity secret. Already working for Aladdin under her Eden Blake identity, she sees an opportunity to learn more about Colonel Samuels through Kevin. For his part, Kevin wants to go home instead of getting involved again with the colonel. As their dialogue goes on, the tension really strengthened and added to the plot.   

Without revealing too much, I should state that the introduction of a new character really shook the story and the big fight that followed was a great payoff to all the build-up.

Conclusion

Kevin and Mantra together.

Prime #8 is an excellent superhero comic book! The creative team of Strazewski-Jones-Breyfogle really crafted a post-Break-Thru story that did not slowed down and kept raising the stakes and the intrigue. Suspense, excitement, drama and intrigue made a great mix here.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #8 (1994), 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, Prime #8 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #12 (1994)

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.

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 cover.

Early story

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….

Quality

Action in the city.

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.

Conclusion

At the coast.

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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A Look Back at Mantra #2 (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.

It’s been a long time since I reviewed the first issue of Mantra. For the newcomers reading this, Mantra is one of the major protagonists of the Ultraverse and as the series progressed, several stories containing elements of fantasy and even science fiction got published. With the way Mike W. Barr wrote the stories, the Mantra series really had its very own flavor and style among all Ultraverse comic books. What also made the character Mantra unique was that she was established with the use of the unholy element of reincarnation.

Before Mantra came to be, there was a male eternal warrior called Lukasz who was a part of a group that fought a rival group of warriors through the ages. Their leader Archimage used magic to ensure that whenever Lukasz or any of his teammates die, he would get reincarnated (his soul enters a new body belonging to an already living person whose soul gets displaced) and continue the fight. Then something happened in issue #1 which led to Lukasz occupying the body of a pretty woman named Eden.

To find out more, join me in this look back at Mantra #1, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at the home of Eden Blake in the evening. An armed man named Warstrike knows that Lukasz is occupying Eden’s body. Lukasz/Eden/Mantra starts to resist him but notices that Eden’s son and daughter are both present and seeing them. Quickly and cleverly, Mantra tells the children to get back to bed and hope they did not notice something wrong.

Filled with emotions, Mantra asked Warstrike not to kill her. As it turns out, Warstrike did not come to take her life and reveals that he had been used by Notch (a rival warrior Lukasz often fought with) as a tool to kill him (Lukasz) the last time he was in a male body. Warstrike tells her he’s going to help her.

After the talk and another attempt by Warstrike to charm her, Mantra slams the door and goes to bed. She sleeps to prepare herself for the next day…

Quality

As Eden, Lukasz inherits the responsibility of taking care of her son and daughter.

I’ll star with the most obvious thing about this comic book…the writing done by Mike W. Barr is very strong and has a nice balance between plotting, spectacle and characterization all throughout. For his part, Terry Dodson nicely translated the writing into engaging visuals.

For the most part, this comic book is very character driven which is a nice pay-off considering the plot build-up in issue #1. We get to see Lukasz struggling more not only because he displaced Eden’s soul (again, reincarnation is unholy) as he occupied her body, but because he is living Eden’s life which involves being the single mother of two children, going to work at the office, wearing women’s clothes and shoes, and dealing with a certain someone from Eden’s past. All of these add to the tremendous challenge of Lukasz who already has his own mission to fulfill.

Conclusion

Living Eden’s domestic life alone is a big challenge already for Lukasz who has always been male.

Mantra #2 is a very strong read from start to finish. As it develops Mantra even further, it also adds to the build-up of another story element: Eden’s domestic life. As the armored Mantra, the protagonist has a mission to find and free Archimage. As Eden, spending time with the two little ones is not only challenging but also crucial to their development. These elements are nice twists to the old hero-civilian formula of superhero comics. Indeed, this one is worthy follow-up to issue #1.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #2 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8, the near-mint copy of the bagged edition costs $16 and the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Mantra #2 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at The Strangers #13 (1994)

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.

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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

Mantra with Electrocute and Grenade.

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.

Conclusion

Mantra meets the Strangers again.

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com