AVENGERS #120-122: The Zodiac (1974)

Mantis got the equivalent of an opening timeslot after the Superbowl; first appearing in #112, she quickly became the focal point of the series.  She dated Swordsman, then wanted Vision.  She was a warrior, with Vietnamese, German, and Kree roots, who respected only power and referred to herself as “this one.”

Reading the series now, in retrospect, it was clear she wasn’t going to be killed off.  But at the time, she was still fairly new so her death was plausible.  In #120, we begin a deep dive into the incredibly complex history of The Mantis, interlaced in coming issues with history of the entire planet Earth and the origin of The Vision.

So, yeah, she doesn’t die.

Vision saves her in an amazing panel by guest artist John Buscema.

And yes, that’s his picture on the left.

Englehart really made this series his own.  His early stories iwere good, but they tended to track Roy Thomas’ vision of the title: The biggest Marvel heroes fight big threats, and have little inter-team conflicts along the way.  Sure, there were many cosmic, “space based” threats, but the book always felt grounded on Earth and in Earth’s timeline.  Now, the book became cosmic on a regular basis, and started to become the “foundation” of the Marvel Universe.

And I can’t resist posting a second panel from this issue, in which John, consciously or not, does a great metaphor shot of Thor’s powerful fifth limb.

In addition to my lame dick joke, it’s interesting to see that Thor has a utility belt in this issue. To my knowledge, he never has one again. Kinda like Captain America’s “magnets” that Tony Stark put into his gloves way, way back in #6.  I think this qualifies as a “forgotten power set.”

SPOILER ALERT: By the end of this arc we learn….

Libra is Mantis’ daddy!

Creators: Steve Englehart, John Buscema, Bob Brown

Grade: A-

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