TITLE: Giant Size Mantra vol. 1, Issue #1
YEAR: July 1994
Writer: Mike W. Barr
Penciller: Mark Heike
Inker: Ken Branch
Letterer: Gail Beckett
Editor: Chris Ulm
1994. I suppose the writing was on the wall that things were not going well with Malibu Comics and its imprint, Ultraverse.
With Editor-in-Chief Chris Ulm writing about the enormous number of comic book titles and how to avoid “Fear of Commitment Syndrome” and how people could read Ultraverse comic books or jump on board.
This was before eBay and people could sell their third party used products on Amazon. But the truth was that Ultraverse Comics, would people be able to jump on if they haven’t read many issues?
Ulm’s editorial goes into steps of how people could purchase limited storylines, annuals and other books that would lead to four titles that people could purchase. If anything, this was Ulm’s plead for people to please read Ultraverse and I can understand. With the plethora of Marvel X-titles, DC with its plethora of Superman and Batman titles, the popularity of Valiant and Image comics and the ’90s experimentation of variant covers that people spent more money in trying to get every cover, Ultraverse which came out strong, had to deal with the reality that the market was oversaturated and the comicbook market has now people going out buying comics not for the storylines but trying to purchase comics for the sake of investment.
And for us fans of Ultraverse, there wasn’t much we could do. We could keep on buying but there was no growth that titles I enjoyed were being canceled.
A few Giant Size issues were released to help people who are not familiar with the comic book series, to jump aboard by reading a Giant Size issue and then hoping they would jump on board with the series.
But we know what happened that year…Marvel would buy Ultraverse, cancel every series and reboot a few of the titles and feature a few Marvel Comics characters and for us hardcore Ultraverse fans, the series would never be the same ever again. Part of the allure to Ultraverse was to read stories ad enjoy characters that were not affiliated with Marvel or DC.
As “Giant Size Mantra” would give us a promotion for the upcoming series “Ultraforce” (Think: The Ultraverse version of “The Avengers”) but the story would revolve around Mantra being held captive and not knowing why she was being held captive.
For those not familiar with Mantra, it was an interesting story as it revolved around an eternal warrior named Lukasz who has fought alongside with his fellow warriors against an antagonist named Boneyard for centuries and he has jumped into the body of different men for many centuries.
Lukasz warriors have been killed and with the hope of reincarnation in another male body, instead he is in the body of a fit mother named Eden Blake.
Not only does Lukasz have to deal with enemies but now he must be this sexy woman and be hit on by many guys which he dislikes. To make things even more difficult is that he is a warrior not a loving parent, so when he must come home to be with Eden’s children, he pushes them away and shows no interest in children, thus causing hostility in the home.
So, in this issue as Lukasz tries to backtrack and remember how he was locked up, he remembers being transferred to a planet (which was done by Boneyard) in an all male location known as Heron and then ending up in an all-female location known as Gwendor.
And in Gwendor, the Topaz Queen of Gwendor wants to know why Mantra has her sword, Gwendor’s claw. Which would lead to a battle between Mantra and Topaz.
The Giant Size issue is a quick and entertaining storyline that showcases Mantra, her history, her problems at home as Eden and how powerful she is with her magical powers. But also the fun that is being played, considering that in the ’90s, many female superheroes were seen as sexy and well-endowed, Mantra is like the anti-superheroine in the fact that a male warrior is inside a woman’s body. And the thought of guys oogling or staring at his female body, literally pisses him off.
Overall, an entertaining story and one of the last Ultraverse stories from Malibu Comics before Marvel Comics would destroy the Ultraverse that many of us had loved.