Mantis: Marvel’s Multiversal Madonna
A confusing comic continuity conversation.
A confusing continuity conversation, all about the Guardians of the Galaxy’s Mantis.
My friend Jeff had been wanting to spring this absurdly complicated info dump on me for a while, but he insisted that I have the cameras rolling when he did. I’m glad, because the mess that is Mantis makes fun video fodder.
And honestly? We barely scratched the surface…which I found out when I went looking for visuals to lay over the video, and wound up diving deep into the nightmare of retcons, authorial intent, editorial interference, and sexism that is Mantis. With all I discovered while editing this, I might have to do a follow-up (I definitely have to do a follow up).
[RINGTONE PLAYS, PHONE VIBRATES]
JEFF: Hey, Adam! How are you?
ADAM: I’m doing great. How are you, Jeff?
JEFF: I’m doing fantastic. Hey, have you…you saw Guardians of the Galaxy
ADAM: Of course!
JEFF: It was on Netflix for, like, forever.
ADAM: Of course. I’ve seen it multiple times.
JEFF: I just saw it again, and I was…I was thinking: you know that there’s three human characters in that film, right?
ADAM: Three human characters?
ADAM: Who are you talking about?
JEFF: Well, you got Star-Lord.
ADAM: Wait, Drax is human?
JEFF: Yeah, in the comics he originally was. He was driving with his family in a car, and Thanos’s spaceship crash-landed into it. And that’s how his family died.
JEFF: And then he was chosen by a cosmic force that turned him into the Destroyer, designated specifically to destroy Thanos!
ADAM: Because of course.
JEFF: Yeah! Yeah!
ADAM: So we’ve got Star-Lord and apparently Drax. Who’s the third one?
MANTIS: I am Mantis.
JEFF: Yes! She’s half-Vietnamese, originally.
ADAM: Wait…I-I need more information, here.
JEFF: Okay. Her father was a supervillain that fought The Avengers, and she was a telepathic martial artist that ended up joining the team. Always referred to herself as “this one” for no apparent reason. She joined The Avengers, and they were trying to discover who the mysterious Celestial Madonna was going to be.
ADAM: The Celestial Madonna? I’m assuming we’re not talking about 80s pop stars.
JEFF: Why wouldn’t we be?
ADAM: Are we?
JEFF: In this case, no. We are not. The Celestial Madonna was a prophecy sent by the alien Cotati race. It turns out that the Celestial Madonna’s child is destined to become the savior of the galaxy!
ADAM: Okay. Standard prophecy fare. I have a feeling there’s more to this.
JEFF: Oh, absolutely. The Cotati believe that the Celestial Madonna is destined not only to give birth to a child, but she must have a child with a tree!
ADAM: With a tree?
JEFF: With a tree!
ADAM: Why a tree?
JEFF: Well, the Cotati are alien trees, you see.
ADAM: Like Groot?
JEFF: Not like Groot! Nope. Nope. Just a tree. Just, you know…like…like, just uuhhmmm, you know…just rooted in the ground, the tree.
JEFF: Alien tree. They must have a child with the tree. Of course, it turns out that the Celestial Madonna is, naturally, Mantis herself.
ADAM: So, M–
JEFF: So she is destined to make love to a tree!
ADAM: Destined! Destined. E-a-ah-o-o-okay. I’ve heard weirder predestination stories in comic books. But your facial expression makes me think there’s still more to this.
JEFF: [EVIL LAUGHTER] Oh, oh yes. There are plenty more good things. So far, she’s like, “Okay! Mm-hm. Mm-hm. So I’m destined to make love to a tree. Mm-hm. Okay. How do you propose I do that?”
“Oh, we’ll have the spirit of the tree posses
somebody that you know.”
“Oh! Okay. Uh, who would that be?”
“You mean my friend and ally who DIED?”
JEFF: So she needs to marry the spirit of a tree possessing her dead friend, and make love to it, and have a child.
ADAM: I mean, that’s pretty out there, but as far as comic book soap opera fare is concerned, I can see that happening. Weirder stuff has happened in Marvel.
JEFF: Sure. Sure. But we’re not staying at Marvel.
ADAM: Wait, how are we not staying at Marvel?
JEFF: She joins the Justice League.
JEFF: After she gets pregnant, she heads off to
join the Cotati. Steve Englehart then starts working for DC Comics. Starts writing Justice League. A spaceship crash-lands, and a green lady with antennae climbs out of the spaceship, calls herself Willow, and explains that she has come from a place she must not name.
ADAM: I think you just broke my brain a little.
JEFF: I’m not done!
ADAM: Oh dear.
JEFF: So after an adventure with the Justice League, she heads off again to points and destinations unknown. Specifically, Eclipse Comics.
ADAM: Wait, wait. What the heck is Eclipse Comics?
JEFF: Eclipse comics was a short-lived, creator-owned comic publication company. In particular, the series Scorpio Rose was a short-lived series, and guess who appeared in Scorpio Rose?
JEFF: Lorelei! A green lady with antennae who refers to herself
as “this one”. This time, though, she has a small baby in tow.
ADAM: Okay. So I’m gathering she has three names she’s known by, at this point, in three different comic companies, but the same plot is actually following her through all of these appearances. Have I got that right?
JEFF: That’s correct! Same writer.
ADAM: This sounds like a logistical nightmare.
JEFF: I think Englehart just took her with him wherever
he happened to be.
ADAM: How did he even get away with this?
JEFF: Different name! “Different character.” [LAUGHS]
ADAM: Despite the…the..the obvious NOT-being-a-different-a-different-character.
ADAM: Dare I ask, is there more to this?
JEFF: One of the Lorelei stories did not get published under Eclipse Comics, so it did end up being published over at Image.
ADAM: Oh come on! FOUR different comic labels?
JEFF: Yep! And by this point, she has joined both The Avengers and the Justice League!
ADAM: So let me recap: Mantis, from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, was in comics an Avenger who was a prophesied Celestial Madonna. And in order to give birth to a savior of some sort, had sex with her dead best friend who was possessed by a tree, moved over to the DC Universe, then moved over to Eclipse Comics, then moved over to Image Comics, has at least three different names…wow.
JEFF: I didn’t even get to her son.
ADAM: What about her son?
JEFF: Because he grew up.
JEFF: His name is Sequoia.
ADAM: Because he’s part tree.
JEFF: Yes! [LAUGHS] He dated a lizard lady.
ADAM: Is there anything else I need to know?
JEFF: There was that time that Mantis split into five separate people, each representing part of her personality.
ADAM: Wow, that gives Superman a run for his money. He only split into TWO people.
JEFF: True, but Superman Red and Blue only represented hot-headed action guy and cold, logical thinker.
JEFF: Mantis’s five splits represented freak, mother, prostitute, mystic, and Avenger.
JEFF: The first four got killed, and she had to reabsorb all of them.
ADAM: Hold up, is Mantis getting in on Jamie Madrox’s Multiple Man territory, here?
JEFF: I don’t even want to THINK about Mantis versus Multiple Man.
ADAM: Is there anything I’m missing, here?
JEFF: The part where a space alien thinking that he was her shape-shifted into her and married Kang the Conqueror?
[BOXING BELL DINGS]
Thank you very much to Jeff for forcing me to record this. And, uh, until next time, I’m Adam the Alien…
JEFF: You’re watching Adam the Alien!
ADAM: And I hope everyone has a less confusing life than Mantis. Fare thee well!
Writer. Actor. Director. Chalk artist. YouTuber. Nerdfighter. Traveler. Pansexual. Genderfluid. Millennial. Socialist. Living a complex life beyond those words.