Who’s Who: Mantis

MantisMantis, created by Steve Englehart, first appeared in Avengers #112 in 1973. Over the years, she has also appeared in DC comics as Willow, and Eclipse/Image comics as Lorelei.

She is the half-Vietnamese/half-German daughter of Gustav Brandt (Libra), who abandoned her at the Temple of the Priests of Pama. The alien Kree believed her to be the Celestial Madonna and a possible mother for the Celestial Messiah. As an ally of the Avengers, she battled many enemies, including Zodiac, Thanos and Ultron, among others. When she eventually joined the Avengers, it was revealed that she was, in fact, the Celestial Madonna. She then left the Avengers, married a Cotati (another alien race) and left Earth to mate.

After her DC/Eclipse/Image hiatus, Mantis made appearances in Avengers Forever and Avengers: Celestial Quest where she aided in a battle against Thanos as a West Coast Avenger before the short miniseries Annihilation: Conquest: Star-Lord.

Though she was born a powerless human, over the course of her life she developed a telepathic ability, as well as the ability to communicate with plant life. She is also precognizant and has superhuman strength. In addition to her superpowers, she is also proficient in the martial arts and meditation.

Fun Fact: Mantis was ranked #99 in Comic Buyer’s Guide’s “100 Sexiest Women in Comics.”

Advertisements

Guardians of the Galaxy #7 (Vol. 2)

GotG1

“No Future” by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

With the current Guardians disbanded, we go ahead, 1,000 years into the future, where Starhawk tells us that the Earth is under attack, and on the verge of extinction thanks to the alien Badoon. The only thing standing in their way are the Guardians of the Galaxy!

GotG2

There’s Charlie-27, a bioengineered man built to withstand the gravity of Jupiter; Martinex, a bioengineered man built to withstand Pluto’s sub-zero temperatures and channel thermal radiation; Vance Astro (Major Victory!); Yondu, a bowhunter from Centauri; and their leader, Starhawk.

Unfortunately, they are not enough to save the people of Earth. An error in the coadunate pattern of time obliterates everything, however Starhawk was able to trace the rift in time back to the present day. She explains that the uncertainty of the future is what has caused her to change form when she travels back and forth. She has been a man, woman, old and young.

When Cosmo attempts to read into her mind to see the future she speaks of,  there is nothing there. Starhawk needs to speak to the Guardians before it’s too late, but the ones who are left (and a few others) are away on an important mission on Benthus Colony.

GotG3

GotG4

Well, whaddya know! Rocket Raccoon is holding together an even more ragtag team of heroes than what we’ve already seen. Mantis has been promoted to active duty; Groot (remember him?) has regenerated enough biomass to be useful; Bug, a friend of Rocket’s, is chipping in; and Major Victory, mostly because he’s good in a fight and hasn’t been a threat so far.

The creatures they are fighting, Major Victory realizes, are zoms, slave troops of the badoon, which doesn’t mean much to Rocket Raccoon. He’s never known them to be much more than a minor threat. Little does he know about the badoon of the future. Major Victory explains that in his time, the badoon have conquered the universe. Suddenly, Rocket feels out of his depth.

GotG5

On the other side of the galaxy, we catch up with Adam Warlock and Gamora. Adam has decided he needs to know more about the Universal Church of Truth, and Gamora has agreed to help.

GotG6

On the other other side of the universe, Drax and Quasar have reached a planet of soothsayers and are looking for a girl named Cammi. Cammi is a girl from Earth who Drax brought into space, but lost during Annihilation: Conquest. One of the soothsayers, asks them about an upcoming war.

GotG7

Back on Benthus Colony, things just keep getting worse for Rocket and the gang.

GotG8

Where’s Peter Quill when you really need him?

GotG9

GotG10

What I loved about this issue is that it goes back to basics, reading much like issue #1, except this time, we know most of the characters. In almost every scene, someone is fighting someone. It’s the sort of stuff that hooked me in the first place. It established who everyone is and addresses all of the major plot threads pretty quickly, and the action never lets up. And best of all, we FINALLY get a good look at Groot! I mean, who can’t get behind a giant sentient tree who can beat the crap out of something? I really hope he stays a prominent member of the team for a while. My guess is when the original team gets back together, one or two might decide to stay on their own (maybe Quasar?).

For the time being, though, I’m enjoying seeing them all out on their own, dealing with their own individual conflicts, rather than the big picture stuff we’ve seen so far. I’m looking forward to learning more about Adam Warlock’s connection with the Universal Church of Truth, as well as seeing Drax find redemption by locating Cammi.

It’s issues like this that make me feel like a kid again, and remind me how much fun reading comics can be. I just hope Dan Abnett stay on this course and continue to keep it fun, without getting stale or derivative.

Who’s Who: Quasar, aka Phyla-Vell

Phyla-VellPhyla-Vell, created by  Peter David and Paul Azaceta, is the least established member of the Guardians of the Galaxy having first appeared in Captain Marvel #16 in 2003. She is the artificially created offspring of Captain Mar-Vell, appearing after Genis-Vell (then, Captain Marvel) destroyed and recreated the universe. Both Genis-Vell and Phyla-Vell were created by their mother, Elysius.

She was primarily featured in the battles against Annihilus and the Phalanx in Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest, respectively, though she did get her own mini-series, Annihilation: Conquest – Quasar, which focused on her struggle to follow in the footsteps of the former Quasar, as well as the rest of the Mar-Vell family.

Her superpowers include superhuman strength and flight. With the use of her Quantum Bands, she can fire and absorb energy blasts, as well as turn energy into solid energy forcefields and such, which allow her to travel through space.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (Vol. 2)

GotG1

“Death” by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

Drax activated the synapse mines, and killed everyone else on board Knowhere. As it turns out, though, it was only temporary. Soon, Quasar wakes up, and is just a little peeved about being killed.

GotG2

As everyone else wakes up, they are suddenly thrust back into their respective predicaments.

GotG3 GotG4

Drax and Quasar race to the skrull’s location where a can of whoop-ass is opened on Adam Warlock and Cosmo, believed to be skrull infiltrators. However, things are not as they seem.

GotG5 GotG6

Right on cue, the administrative council barges in guns-a-blazin’ and another battle breaks out before Cosmo unleashes yet another telekinetic blast. In the aftermath, Peter Quill continues to clash with the council.

GotG7 GotG8

With that settled, Quill returns to the Guardians’ quarters where Drax has spilled the beans to everyone else about Quill’s deception and they are far from happy about it.

GotG9 GotG10

And just like that, when the universe needs them the most, the Guardians are no more. Or are they? How will Star-Lord convince them all to come back? And what will happen in the interim?

What I’ve enjoyed most about this series so far is the unclear division between good and bad. The heroes are not all that good, particularly their leader, and the bad guys are really bad, unless they happen to be peaceful skrulls (Irony!). Pretty much everyone is flawed, even if they’re likable. But there’s something about each of the Guardians’ individual desire to to good that draws me in, even if their methods aren’t the most ethical.

With the Secret Invasion over, there’s still the Universal Church of Truth to deal with, as well as Starhawk and whatever effect he/she/it is going to have on the universe. Whatever it is, it probably won’t be good. I guess we’ll find out in issue 7.

 

Who’s Who: Adam Warlock

Adam WarlockAdam Warlock, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, first appeared in Fantastic Four #66 (in cocoon form) and #67 (in human form) in 1967. Originally, he was known as Him, but was changed to Adam Warlock by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane for Marvel Pemiere #1 in 1972.

From then on, he appeared in his own limited run series The Power of Warlock, as well as Strange Tales, until his revival in the ’90s where he was an integral part of defeating Thanos in The Infinity Gauntlet and regularly appeared in the subsequent series’ Warlock and the Infinity Watch, Infinity War, Infinity Crusade, and The Infinity Abyss before Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest.

Adam Warlock is a synthetic being created by The Enclave as a prototype for an ideal race of humans who would rule the Earth. After emerging from his cocoon, he was able to sense his creators’ corruption and rebelled. Originally known as Him, it wasn’t until he met The Hight Evolutionary that he received the name Adam.

His super powers include manipulating energy, creating force fields, teleporting, traveling faster than light and detecting wormholes and other irregularities in space using quantum magic.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (Vol. 2)

GotG1

“Deception” by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

With Drax’s whereabouts unknown, Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians are finding it increasingly difficult to find favor with Knowhere’s administrative council. Despite Star-Lord’s pleas to allow his own people to find Drax, the council have sent a few of their own to track him down. Skrull or not, Drax is a killer and the Guardians have been nothing but trouble since they arrived.

Deep in the inner workings of Knowhere, we catch up with Massdriver, Brightstorm, and Impact, the three warriors the council has tasked with finding Drax. Unfortunately for them, Drax finds them first and has no intentions of just letting them pass by…

GotG2 GotG3GotG4

Drax’s actions only create more problems between the Guardians and the council. Before things get out of hand, Cosmo pulls rank and sends everyone to their respective quarters until everything’s sorted out.

Finally, with a moment to talk, Rocket breaks things down for Star-Lord. And Quasar makes a noble decision.

GotG5 GotG6 GotG7

While Adam Warlock is in Knowhere’s cerebellum, trying to use it to flush out any remaining Skrulls that might be in hiding, Quasar finds Drax.

GotG8

Back at the Guardians’ Control Center, Peter Quill has found out where Quasar went, and is none too happy about it, but Gamora stands her ground, insisting that if they are going to succeed as a team, they need to start acting like one and trusting each other instead of turning on each other in times of crisis. Suddenly…

GotG9 GotG10 GotG11

Meanwhile, on the Delegation Habitat Level, Cosmo is meeting with some mysterious guests when Adam Warlock interrupts.

GotG12

Before Adam Warlock and Cosmo can get into it, though, Drax reveals his master plan.

GotG13 GotG14

WHOA! Okay, so I’ve read enough comics to know that no one is going to die (probably), but man, what a cliffhanger! With everyone kind of going in their own direction, I’m curious to see what ultimately brings this group of heroes together. They’ve been struggling to work as a team from the very beginning and there’s still Star-Lord’s dirty little secret. What’s going to happen once that gets out?

Despite a plot that’s more or less by the numbers, I liked that Abnett and Lanning were able to focus on Drax a little more. He’s a team member we haven’t really gotten to know very well so far and here, we get to see him to what he does best: kick ass.

It was also nice to see Quasar assert herself as well. I feel like she’s largely existed to fill out some of the panels up to this point, but here, she gets her moment to take charge of a situation when she ignores Star-Lord to go out to find Drax herself.

Just one more issue left in the “Secret Invasion” arc. Then we can hopefully get back to the  much more interesting Universal Church of Truth and Starhawk/Major Victory story arcs. Those are the ones I’m really looking forward to.