Fantastic Four #325
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #325
Next issue Englehart will replace his name entirely in the credits with his John Harkness pseudonym. So we're really done with the Englehart run in any meaningful sense, although he'll weirdly continue on the book for a while. More on that when we get there.
For now, this issue is the final fate of Mantis (for the time being). As you can see from the scene above, we left off with Kang having betrayed the Human Torch and having abandoned him near Mercury, and the Silver Surfer has now arrived to rescue him. The rest of the FF are in the process of getting into their rocket to try to go save Johnny when Surfer arrives on Earth. And that means a reunion with Mantis, who he thought dead.
The Human Torch has been stuck in his flame form, and the Surfer is unable to help.
And then Kang returns, this time with the Cotati and Mantis' baby.
Kang wants to kill Mantis for the times she's thwarted her in the past, but he's agreed to hold off on his vengeance if Mantis will agree to not pursue the Cotati for her son.
It turns out all the Cotati really wanted out of all this "Celestial Madonna" stuff was a plant that could walk.
C'mon, guys! If that's all you needed, we've got Man-Things, H'ylthris, Groots... i'm sure we could have worked something out.
Anyway, Mantis obviously doesn't agree. And that means a fight. And in addition to everyone else, the Cotati have also brought the Priests of Pama.
You'd think having the Silver Surfer on your side would ensure you had an easy time of it, but Kang has some advanced weapons.
And Mantis finds herself fighting (the never seen before) Master L'ai Sau, her former trainer.
Her time in space has enabled her to develop the counter-move to L'ai Sau's Red Crane Thurst.
And then she uses newly revealed mental powers against the Cotati.
After that, the Cotati and Kang flee. And to pursue them, Mantis has to give up her corporeal form. So she kisses the Silver Surfer goodbye...
...and then "dies".
The Surfer isn't in a mood to stick around, and he also departs for space.
Poor Mantis had been shuffled from Englehart book to book only to be rejected by editorial once she got there. It still amazes me that the stories were always able to get as far as including her before she got written out again, which is why i believe that it was a problem that Tom DeFalco had with Mantis or Englehart, and not any individual editor. With this issue Englehart has said he was just hoping for a dignified death for his character, but what he's really done is put her in a Limbo that she can eventually be revived from, when the environment is friendlier.
Knowing only a very little about Englehart's intended plans (i surmise she was originally supposed to survive this and leave with the Surfer and face off against Thanos in Silver Surfer #22), it seems like a fitting temporary retirement for the character.
I include the Statement of Ownership numbers when i notice them, but i don't normally do any kind of sales "analysis" here. And it's worth noting that a decline in the Fantastic Four's numbers can just be a reflection of the overall trend away from the more traditional books and towards the X-titles and Punisher or just the overall declining state of the comic industry. But the reason i comment on them is because Englehart has said that he was hired to "revive" the title and that sales were improving thanks to his radical changes to the book. If we are to believe the numbers, though, average 12 month sales went from 264,760 towards the end of the Byrne run to 251,083 (this number was published while Stern was writing and probably still reflected some of Byrne's run) then down to 216,108 during the heart of Englehart's run and now a drop below 200,000 to 185,305. These are numbers that any publisher would kill for today, and they weren't bad even for the time, but the trend would be worrying. And in it's in that context that Englehart was told that he had to bring Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman back to the title, as we'll see beginning next issue.
This is technically the first on-panel appearance of Mantis' son, Quoi, but i haven't let it affect the Historical Significance Rating.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 185,305. Single issue closest to filing date = 189,300.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We left the Human Torch floating in space a bit to allow Inferno to pass and because we know that while the Silver Surfer is fast, he can't travel between solar systems instantaneously. The Silver Surfer appears here after Silver Surfer #22. The Human Torch remains trapped in nova form at the end of this issue, and so shouldn't have any generic appearances elsewhere in the meantime.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
You know Kang's weapon is powerful when it causes a "Kratz" sound effect.
Posted by: Clyde | September 12, 2014 5:14 PM
Kang says that for all the Surfer's power, he cannot travel through time. Actually he can, as evidenced in Silver Surfer 6.
Posted by: Michael | September 12, 2014 7:42 PM
With Kang attempting to break into the Dreaming Celestial's tomb under Diablo Mountain at the start of this storyline, while at the same time seeking revenge on Mantis, this made me wonder if he intended to reveal her whole Celestial Madonna schtick was that her son was intended to become a Celestial!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 3, 2015 6:50 PM
I recently re-read these issues. I've always had a fondness for them. They're weird but interesting.
Back during the original Mantis storyline in Avengers in the early 1970s, it seems really strange that a second-rate gangster like Monsieur Khruul was able to kill all of the Priests of Pama, since they were supposed to be the greatest martial artists in the universe, or something like that. The fact that a whole bunch of the Priests show on Earth in this issue, including one who trained Mantis, really seems to indicate that most of them went into hiding when Khruul showed up at their temple. I think the Priests let everyone believe they were all dead, so that Mantis wouldn't be able to ask them questions about her past, allowing the Cotati's whole convoluted plan for her to play out.
Posted by: Ben Herman | December 22, 2015 1:57 PM
Nathan, I've been looking through Mantis appearances - I don't know why; masochism? - and I've been wondering something similar. The Celestials are certainly involved, somehow. They'd just sent one of them to oversee a Skrull world at the beginning of the Second Kree/Skrull War. Here the Kree's plant people get involved along with Kang, and very shortly, the Dreaming Celestial would be having disturbing dreams in his second and (so far) final appearance, which served no purpose but occurred at the exact same time Ghaur came back as an agent of Set and fought the Silver Surfer, Mantis' previous boyfriend.
I'm not sure what it means or how the Serpent Crown works into it, but the Celestials were definitely looking into something regarding the Kree, Skrulls, Cotati and Mantis' baby. I also wonder if it had something to do with their experiments in making eternals and deviants. The Skrulls themselves were the deviants of their race, and the Kree tried to reproduce the experiments as well, creating the Inhumans.
Also note that the previous year's crossover annuals had the Silver Surfer meet the Eternals themselves because the High Evolutionary was also trying experiments along those lines and wanted the Surfer's DNA with their help. In the process, the Super Skrull was reconstituted from the Van Allen Belt where he'd been - minus an appearance in "Alpha Flight" - since he fought Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, and was sent back by the Surfer because he was the only one who could restore the Skrulls' ability to change forms.
It's also possible that the Infinity Gems were involved in some way, since they had just recently been gathered by the Elders of the Universe and for the most part they would stay together until Thanos puts them on his glove. The last gem to be gathered was the one true Soul Gem, which the Kree Supreme Intelligence had been wearing and tried to steal the Surfer's soul with it. I am completely unaware of any retcon that the Contemplator was a Skrull, but he was the one negotiating with the Supreme Intelligence for the gem, and when the Surfer escaped with it, the S.I. went insane and Nenora the spying Skrull took over the Kree Empire. By the time Nenora was finally exposed, Clumsy Foulup was in charge, with the help of the Cotati.
I don't quite get how Kang works into it all because I've never read Englehart's original Mantis stories and, all due respect to fnord, this site just has summaries.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 28, 2016 8:35 PM
@ChrisW: When Mantis was initially introduced by Englehart, and the whole “Celestial Madonna/ Messiah” plot, the Celestials hadn’t been created, and certainly weren’t part of the proper Marvel Universe by that stage (this occurred only after Roy Thomas’s Thor #300).
Re: the Serpent Crown, I initially wondered if the Skrull god, Sl'gur't, was actually Set’s child, Sligguth. A writer could have taken that path, but later they chose not too:(
Hasn't Hickman recently hinted that the Celestial Messiah is the child of a Celestial in his SHIELD miniseries that we never got the final issues of?
Recall too in that Silver Surfer Annual with the Eternals that Norrin revealed that when he had been earlier imprisoned on Earth, the site of Mount Olympus where the Eternals had their home hadn’t been there. So I’m suspecting Englehart had a plot planned to reveal they hadn’t been as old as they’d claimed and there was some dastardly plot going on.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 28, 2016 8:57 PM
The part about Mount Olympus not being there never made the slightest bit of sense to me. The best I could figure, it sounded like the Surfer simply wasn't able to perceive it in any way, and for whatever reason, the Eternals didn't perceive him. Why that changed for the annual, I don't know, but not many other mortals did get to see Mount Olympus. I see the Avengers actually visited in their last appearance before the 12-issue miniseries, but in general, I'd assume the Eternals kept their city very well hidden. Even to - perhaps especially to - the Silver Surfer.
As to Kirby's creation of the Celestials relative to Mantis' original storyline, that's what Kang and the Time Gem is there for. :P
Posted by: ChrisW | March 28, 2016 10:14 PM
@ChrisW: Who possessed the Time Gem around Thor #300? And don't you mean the Reality Gem, since the Eternals mythos was part of an alternate reality until that issue?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 28, 2016 10:43 PM
I don't know who had the Time Gem around "Thor" #300, but luckily time travel can alleviate such problems. The Trader traded for two gems at once, presumably one was the Time Gem and the other was the Reality Gem.
I know that Kirby's "Eternals" wasn't supposed to be part of the Marvel Universe and got ret-conned in, so perhaps that's what Englehart was getting at with the Surfer literally not seeing the city. Since I only found out about the characters after the retcon, I've gotta go with what works for me.
As for Set, he did start working on Earth through Lemuria [not sure which Lemuria, but both are represented in "Atlantis Attacks"] where the Serpent Crown was created. I know fish aren't reptiles, but in a possible counterpoint to the Kree/Skrulls, the scale-covered Inhuman Triton appeared a few times when Namor was fighting Paul Destine, who wore the Crown early in the 20th Century (although it was hidden in stone then.) Set also worked multi-dimensional spells by giving Hugh Jones the crown from the Squadron Supreme's earth as well as 616.
The Scarlet Witch had a few run-ins with the Crown as well. Set is one of the Elder Gods, as is Chthon who is inextricably intertwined with Wanda's life. As is Gaea who was revealed to be none other than the mother of Thor [???] in "Thor" #300.
Set was very much in favor of reptiles over mammals, a trait which the Skrulls had just lately started showing amongst themselves [aided by Captain Reptyl.] He started merging reptiles and mammals with the Serpent Men, but they were mostly wiped out by the First Host of Celestials, who conducted the experiment which created Eternals and Deviants on Earth.
The Deviants ruled most of the world, with only Atlantis as the holdout, sinking itself rather than submit. Then the Second Host of Celestials showed up and sunk Lemuria, flooding the world, and leaving the Dreaming Celestial behind. I'm leaving out a bunch of Conan stuff because I know and care nothing about Conan or Thoth-Amon, but if you do, have at it.
Namor's life has been plagued by the Set and the Serpent Crown. It even made him lose his memories after WWII until he was rediscovered by Johnny Storm decades later. Viper used it. In Set's last attempt to conquer Earth before "Atlantis Attacks," it took Spider-Man, the Thing and the Scarlet Witch using the Cosmic Cube to beat him, and Dr. Strange to use the Cube to permanently banish Set, until Strange lost his own talismans (such as the Book of the Darkhold, written by Set's fellow Elder God) and weakened the spell.
So to answer your question, I don't know. But I am glad I have my comics back so I could flip through "Marvel Team-Up" Annual #5 and the "Atlantis Attacks" back-up stories. :)
Posted by: ChrisW | March 29, 2016 12:36 AM
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