Friday, July 8, 2011

Mantra #1

Mantra #1 (July 1993)

Writer: Mike W. Barr
Pencils: Terry Dodson
Inks: Al Vey
Letters: Tim Eldred
Color Designer: Paul Mounts
Editor: Chris Ulm

Cover Art: Hoang Nguyen

Variants: Ultra 5000 (same cover art as standard issue), Silver hologram (same cover art as standard issue), Gold hologram (same cover art as standard issue), Also a Polybagged issue that came with a trading card.

My summary/review (Just as a note of warning, there are all kinds of spoilers in this review):

Title: Reversal of Fortune

Now here is a grand first issue to remember.  Great story and great art.

We are introduced to Lukasz, a warrior, who currently inhabits the body of Bill Cooper, who has just left his wife and son...because he is no longer the man they remember.  Lukasz meets up with others from the ranks of Archmage.  They are Yaron, Hamath and Thansi.  They are meeting to fight Notch and his crew...who work for Boneyard.

During the battle, Lukasz is killed.  So are two of Notch's men, but they are promptly brought back to life.  Also, Boneyard and Archmage exchange words on the spirit plane.

We then meet Warstrike, who is being hired to do something.

Carl and Marla, a young couple that has been having issues are back together thanks to the efforts of Eden Blake.  Eden is a single mother of two, who is joining Carl and Marla on a double date with a friend.

Lukasz enters Carl’s body and quickly leaves poor Marla behind, but not before Eden gives him an earful.

Eden and her date obviously go out and end up sleeping together...and while they are out on the town and getting busy, Lukasz is meeting with Archmage and the group.

Boneyard show up and says Archmages real name, rendering him helpless to those who have counted on him.

The two sides battle again and things are not looking good for Lukasz and the boys.  If they is for real this time.  Warstrike shows up and promptly kills Lukasz.  He is obviously not happy about it and says that he and Notch need to talk.

Lukasz is surprised however that he is once again in the soulwalk.  He has one more body to enter.

He awakens to a man asking him if he is alright.  He is naked and feels off somehow.  He is in the body of Eden Blake.  He is in trouble.

He gets out of that situation, and heads to see his friends.  he is almost muged along the way...or worse, but the attacker bursts into flame.  He then learns from Katinya that this was Archmages plan.  To get him into the body of this woman, and it’s potential for magic.  She hands Eden/Lukasz a pendant that changes her into Mantra.

Katinya dies and Eden/Lukasz takes off for home, wading through a few police to do so.

At home, she is greeted by her mother, who has been watching her two children.  They are sent to bed and Mom goes home.  Lukasz is sorry to learn that Eden's body does not like Whiskey.

The final image is of Warstrike showing up and announcing that he knows that Lukasz is in Eden’s body...

This is a jam packed comic.  There is a loit of story covered here, and yet...unlike The Strangers, this does not feel rushed at all.  The set up for this book is great.  An ancient warrior moving from body to body throughout the years is finally stuck...and in a woman’s body.  Let the awkwardness begin with the other males in Eden/Lukasz'z life begin...because this is one gorgeous woman who is not interested.

The art is great.  It is by a then newer artist...Terry Dodson.  His art has gotten even better over time, but this is his first mainstream comics work...according to what I can see.

A few other blurbs about this issue from various Ultraverse publications follow...

Summary from the other Ultraverse comics Published that month:

None.  Only creator information iis given.

From the Collectors Guide to the Ultraverse:

After his body is killed in battle, Lukasz's soul is transferred into the body of Eden Blake.  Now he must continue his battle as a woman.

From the Ultraverse Year One issue:

As the latest incarnation of the eternal warrior Lukasz, Bill Cooper and his fellow warriors are directed by their leader, Arhmage, to a local magic shop.  The minions of Boneyard (Archmages brother and mortal enemy) have recovered a magical mask at the shop.  The shop owner, Edgar Strauss, is saved when Lukasz breaks into the shop.  Strauss escapes with the mask.  Lukasz's body is killed by Notch.  Archmage places Lukasz into another body (Carl).  Archmage informs his knights that there is a traitor among them.  Boneyard appears and spirits Archmage away, leaving Notch and his men to slaughter the surprised warriors.   Lukasz is killed again, this time killed by Warstrike.  This time Lukasz is placed into the body of a woman, Eden Blake.  Lukasz visits the dying Katinya, who gives "him a mantra to live by and a charm that becomes Mantra's costume.


  1. This issue also touches on a subject that is not ever really touched on in comics. I need to gather some thoughts on it, and will post about it later.

  2. Mantra was a truly novel idea. If I remember right, one of the themes was that Lukasz, a macho, sexist warrior, finds himself trapped in the body of a woman so he can learn what it's like to be objectified! (Or am I confusing Mantra with something else?)

    Anyway, I thought it was a great idea with loads of potential for embarrassing and humorous situations. As an added touch, Lukasz was not a mother responsible for two kids!

    I don't remember how the series played out, unfortunately. (Looking forward to further reviews, Dave.)

    The reason why this issue does not feel rushed, probably, is because it featured only one protagonist, whereas Strangers had several. In my own writing, I've learned that a story witrh only one hero has much greater focus. (Sorry, Legion! :D)

  3. That should read "Lukasz was NOW a mother . . ."

  4. Very true about the number of characters sharing the spotlight, and that leading to the rushed feel of The Strangers. Although, with the next book I will be reviewing, I wonder how another team introduction will go...rushed, well paced...or somewhere in between.

    I was just surprised looking back at how much information was actually relayed to the reader n a short amount of time. Again, this would be 5 - 6 issues nowadays. Each battle drawn out to an issue apiece, and the transference into Eden getting an issue unto itself. I miss when writers could just write to the level of the readers...instead of writing down to the level of the corporations wanting more money for the same story.