A Look Back at Mantra #4 (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, geeks and fellow comic book collectors! If you want to discover more of the fantasy elements within the Ultraverse through Mantra – the pretty sorceress whose body is occupied by the soul of a male warrior named Lukasz – then you are in for something rather different.

To put things in perspective, the fantasy-swords-magic concept was made clear in Mantra #1 and that Lukasz and his band of warriors (led by an elder sorcerer) as well as their enemies (led by Boneyard) were definitely from another world. That other world will be explored at last in this look back at Mantra #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Roy Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the world of Boneyard, at his castle specifically. Down on her knees, Mantra is just in front of the villain Boneyard who says, “So this is Archimage’s last, best hope. Just a woman!!”

Boneyard tells Mantra not to rise nor move. As he does not yet know that Lukasz is inside Mantra’s body, Boneyard welcomes her and states that it is his right to choose any woman in his kingdom as his bride. In reaction to being selected as Boneyard’s newest mate with a purpose to potentially give birth to his children, Mantra strikes him with an energy blast symbolically rejecting him.

Boneyard then says, “Enough. I tolerate this dissent because your body carries much potential for magic, woman. It is only your body that saves you from death. Your bewildering loyalty to my defeated brother, Archimage, would ordinarily be enough to condemn you. Your genes, combined with mine will yield children to whom magic comes as easily as taking breath.”

As the villain talks, Mantra notices the sword pointed at her was the same one used to kill her when she was man (as Lukasz). She then makes moves to get Boneyard off-balanced and try to leave the castle…

Quality

Mantra visits the tavern in the kingdom controlled by Boneyard.

I’ll start with the writing. What Mike W. Barr did here successfully was raising the stakes for Mantra which involves the drastic change of location and setting from the modern society of Earth into the fantasy realm where Boneyard and his army are based in. The mentioned change literally opened new opportunities to develop Mantra’s personality while at the same time offered readers a lot of new things and places for their exploration.

With the all-new setting, lots of fantasy genre tropes are present. There is the ever-present tavern filled with lots of people that include humans and non-human beings that go beyond dwarves and elves. There is also the slave auction of both men and women standing almost nakedly in front of the bidders. There also were people wearing capes, hoods, swords, spears and armor which Mantra smoothly blends in with.

Along the way, there is a lot spectacle here mainly acts of magic alternated with hard action moves. The way the spectacle is presented fits in excellently with the fantasy setting and I should state that Roy Phipps did a very solid job visualizing such elements while succeeding in making Mantra, Boneyard, Archimage and Warstrike look recognizable.

Back to the writing, Mike W. Barr prepared a lot of details in the story that explained Boneyard’s nature and even his status as the husband of multiple wives. This comic book also reveals that Boneyard is likely bisexual since, apart from being married to multiple women, he kissed Mantra and lusts for her even AFTER he learned that Lukasz is occupying the woman’s body. His intention to marry Mantra symbolizes homosexuality as well. To put things in perspective, this makes Boneyard very guilty of sexual immorality on top of his wickedness. Refer to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (sexual immorality and homosexuality), Galatians 5:19-21 (sorcery and sexual immorality) and Deuteronomy 17:17 (polygamy) in the Holy Bible.

Conclusion

Boneyard’s intention to marry Mantra (whose body is occupied by the soul of the male eternal warrior Lukasz) and impregnate her to produce his children is disgusting, even more so when the villain knows Lukasz is in Mantra.

To say the least, Mantra #4 (1993) is entertaining enough mainly due to its fantasy setting and exposing key elements about the rivalry between Archimage and Boneyard. This was a daring and refreshing change of pace for Mantra series since the first three issues already emphasized Lukasz’s struggles on living in the body of Eden Blake (note: reincarnation is false and goes against the Holy Bible, read Hebrews 9:27 and Psalm 78:39 for insight) and living with her family as Eden’s soul was pushed into limbo. More notably, this issue shows more of how evil and wicked Boneyard is not simply because of his leading his army of evildoers but also because of his evil-filled nature. By comparison, Lukasz/Mantra is the lesser evil to Boneyard under the pretense of good-versus-evil in the story (which itself concluded in a predictable and underwhelming fashion).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of comic book costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #4 (1993) 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 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 Mantra #7 (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 Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book enthusiasts! If you want to see more of Mantra and Prime cross over with each other and find out if they would impact the entire Ultraverse somehow, then you’re in for something here.

Here is a look back at Mantra #7, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and illustrated by Terry Dodson. This one follows the events that took place in Prime #8 (1994).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra already captured by the Baby Doctor (a super being feared by Colonel Samuels) and his hideous companions. Prime, who was slowed temporarily by Samuels and his soldiers, flies chasing the vehicle carrying Mantra, even distracting the mother, daughter and son of Eden Blake/Mantra.

A short time later, Mantra wakes up and gets much needed assistance by Prime who breaks into the vehicle and fight those who took her captive. After much action, the moving vehicles crashes and Prime helps Mantra…

Quality

Prime to the rescue!

I’ll start with the storytelling and characterization. While Prime #8 marked the actual start of Prime and Mantra getting to know each other more, this story takes their alliance a few notches higher with an emphasis on the big guy (who is actually teenager Kevin Green inside the body) starting to care more for the beautiful eternal warrior (with the soul of the man Lukasz). I also find it refreshing to see Mantra more helpless and Lukasz (the occupant in the body of Mantra/Eden Blake) actually struggles in a really weakened physical state (this points to what happened near the end of Prime #8).

The stakes have been raised in the sense that more information about Prime’s origin was revealed and, more notably, the Doc (Baby Doctor) is a more intriguing character in the Ultraverse and this comic book makes clear why Col. Samuels is afraid of him. I liked the way Mike W. Barr used science fiction concept of genetics and even gender to add a strong element of intrigue in the plot. Speaking of gender, there are a few moments that hint of homosexuality which will make you question how much Lukasz is changing the longer her stays in a woman’s body.

Conclusion

Prime getting involved with Mantra.

Mantra #7 is a well-written comic book that succeeded in raising the stakes, deepening the Mantra-Prime friendship while delivering a satisfying, action-packed misadventure. The Doc meanwhile proved to be a worthy addition into the Ultraverse.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #7 (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 #7 (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 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.

+++++

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 #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

A Look Back at UltraForce #4 (1995)

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.

I just love reading stories of UltraForce, the superhero team that involved three major Ultraverse characters – Prime, Hardcase and Prototype – supported by secondary characters from varied parts of the said universe such as Topaz (identified with Mantra), Ghoul (The Exiles), Contrary (Freex) and Pixx. Of course, UltraForce stories would not have been strong without the combined creative forces of Gerard Jones and George Perez who in turn crafted the said team, established a really strong villain in Atalon and making Atalon’s arrival a major international crisis that is epic in scale. The first three issues (plus issue #0) all showed the series’ greatness!

Will the great stuff of the UltraForce creative team continue? We will find out right now in this look back at UltraForce #4, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by George Perez.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with UltraForce member Ghoul being held helplessly by King Atalon. He tells Ghoul that he has no intention of destroying the people of Earth for at least one more day. Some time later, the two arrived at the remains of an old civilization very deep in the cavern. Atalon tells Ghoul: Invoke all the deities you wish, young man. Here we are beyond their reach. The temple city of Zenalla. Once it was the heart and soul of the fire people.

As it turns out, Atalon reveals that he tore through a hundred miles of fallen stone to reopen Zenalla and expressed that he will not event let his own people see it. After some more talk and travel, Atalon kneels and bows to specific monuments of his ancestors who are also the founder of cities and the fathers of the fire people. He tells Ghoul that he will bring them to speak to him.

Elsewhere, the mainstream media magnified the powerful blast that happened off Cuba which contributed to the panic and fear of the public. With people agitated, the UltraForce faces the media in an attempt to provide clarity and calm.

Hardcase (with Prototype, Prime, Topaz, Contrary and Pixx standing with him) tells the world: Activity continues on the island-we have to assume that Atalon planned that blast and survived it! And that was just one bomb-out of dozens he’s threatening to launch against mankind! As long as he has the gravity power to launch those nukes, we can’t afford a replay of our last assault!

Quality

I just love the interactions between the members of Ultraforce.

To make things clear, issue #2 was mainly a build-up story which was followed by a huge, spectacle-filled pay-off in issue #3. Backed with still very solid writing, this comic book is another build-up type of story and its most compelling feature is the origin of Atalon which was very well told by Jones and Perez. Atalon’s background story is definitely one of the finest origin stories of the Ultraverse ever told that focused more on an anti-hero instead of a hero. Through his past, you will realize that Atalon is not your typical big, muscular, raging antagonist but rather a leader who went through a lot of struggles when he was young (and had no power) and was compelled to lead his people as a result of key events that happened.

I really enjoyed discovering also the history of Atalon’s people who existed entirely deep underground and were told by the supposedly wise elders that the surface of the Earth was not an air-world and that they should only remain under it. As for how Atalon gained power, that one was strongly told and, more importantly, was believable in its presentation.

More on the build-up and character development, the members of UltraForce unsurprisingly got a good chunk of the spotlight in favor of characterization. The interaction between Hardcase and Topaz was not only very engaging but also symbolized the conflicts between their respective cultures (with Topaz coming from a society of women). And then there was Contrary with her very distinctive way of interacting with others with a sense of manipulation.

Conclusion

The lost city!

UltraForce #4 (1995) is another great comic book thanks to the Jones-Perez team. The interactions between the UltraForce is top-notch, the origin of Atalon is fantastic, and the theme about society reacting to an existing superhero team that supposed to help them in a time of crisis is very believable. As with the first four issues (including issue #0), the way this comic book’s story was written showed that the creators made preparations. This one is not only a whole lot of fun to read but also very engaging from start to finish.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #4 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $16.

Overall, UltraForce #4 (1995) 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