Mantis: Comic Book Origins

Written by Michael Wynands Don’t let her antennae fool you, this hero doesn’t squash so easily. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Avengers alumnus and Guardians of the Galaxy member Mantis. As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1973 “Avengers” #112-114, which was expanded upon in 1974’s “Avengers” #121 -125 and 1975’s “Avengers” #133-135. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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Superhero Origins: Mantis

Don’t let her antennae fool you, this hero doesn’t squash so easily. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Avengers alumnus and Guardians of the Galaxy member Mantis.



As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1973 “Avengers” #112-114, which was expanded upon in 1974’s “Avengers” #121 -125 and 1975’s “Avengers” #133-135.



From a period of cosmic wandering, which saw her travel all the way into DC comics, to having her very being fragmented and spread across the cosmos, Mantis has had a tough life. But before all those troubles began, this psychic superheroine, martial artist and celestial madonna was a barmaid and sex worker in Vietnam.



Mantis first appeared in Avengers #112, but it was little more than a brief teaser. While the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes busied themselves rescuing Black Panther from the Lion God, “thousands of miles away”, she was shown conspiring to join the Avengers with a shadowy figure. In issue #113, Marvel kept the readers in suspense with more fleeting images of Mantis, before putting her front and center on the cover of Avengers #114, which also revealed her companion to be the Swordsman.



Of course, in that very issue, after being welcomed into Avengers HQ they proceed to summon the aforementioned Lion God. With the Avengers defeated… they then proceed to turn on the Lion God, with Mantis performing a distracting dance to achieve victory. Hmmm… where else have we seen that move? It’s a classically ‘70s convoluted plot that ultimately ended with them both joining the Avengers, albeit without providing much insight into Mantis’ past.



In fact, it wasn’t until Avengers #121 that we learned that Mantis and Swordsman met in Vietnam, where Mantis nursed him back to health, and Avengers #123 that we learned of her birth and upbringing.



As explained by her father, the supervillain known as Libra, she was born during his time as a mercenary for the French forces in Vietnam, where he took a Vietnamese wife, only to see her be killed, shortly after giving birth to Mantis, by her criminal brother, Monsieur Khruul. Blinded and forced to flee, Libra was found by the Priests of Pama, who took his daughter in as their own, training her in martial arts and more - treating her almost as a figure of worship.



Turns out however, in an ever thickening plot and increasingly complex backstory, that the Priests of Pama weren’t originally of this world, but rather the descendents of Pacifist Kree who settled on earth. Although it seemed as if Mantis had been trained to protect earth from the Star-Stalker, Kang the Conqueror later revealed her true identity… that of the Celestial Madonna - a woman destined to bear the child of the strongest being on Earth. Although Kang planned to taker her as his bride, the Avengers defeated him, and courtesy of Lord Immortus, Mantis was finally treated to her entire backstory.



By reliving her past, Mantis not only regains her memory, but also comes to understand her destiny. It turns out the Kree planet was once home to a sentient plant-based species too, known as the Cotati. And though believed to wiped out, they were rediscovered by the pacifist Kree, and transported to earth. When the priests took Mantis in, they trained and molded her into the perfect human, before wiping her memory and sending her off to finish her training among humankind, where, full circle… she wound up working for her evil uncle as a barmaid and prostitute. With her memory restored however, she embraced her destiny, reconnected with the Cotati telepathically, and eventually gave birth to a child, whom the Cotati took to raise as their own.



Her earthly destiny fulfilled, Mantis left the planet to explore space, where she found more than her fair share of adventure over the decades. Eventually however, she wound up meeting Peter Quill, and helped him not only to save the Galaxy, but bring the Guardians of The Galaxy together.



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