Wednesday 21 September 2011

Avengers #124. The Celestial Madonna Saga: Part 2.

Avengers #124, Mantis and the Star-Stalker
This is the issue that reveals that sometimes in life the worst thing you can do if you're evil is to talk too much. Therefore, being a creature of purest evil, I'll learn that lesson and get straight to the point.

Still in the temple of the Priests of Pama, the Avengers find themselves confronted by Monsieur Khruul's killer, a talking  space dragon called the Star-Stalker which tells them it feeds on the energy of planets but had once been defeated by the priests, who'd discovered its sole weakness.

Now, with them having been killed last issue by Monsieur Khruul, there's nothing to stop it from destroying the Earth - and that includes the Avengers who get nowhere in their attempts to battle it.

It all looks like curtains for our favourite planet until Mantis realises the Star-Stalker can be killed by heat and gets the Vision to zap it with his solar eyeballs.

Avengers #124, Mantis and the Star-Stalker
You do have to wonder about the lack of powers of observation of the Avengers. They're total inability to notice a giant space dragon mere feet away from them at the tale's beginning doesn't exactly suggest they're the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Then again, the Star-Stalker's not too bright either, giving them a long monologue about itself that lets them know it has a fatal weakness, before harping on at every opportunity about the fact it has a fatal weakness. Granted, he doesn't actually tell them what that weakness is but still you'd think he'd have the sense not to tell everyone he meets that he has one.

On the Mantis front, we learn more about her origins. It turns out her alleged tutors the Priests of Pama were Kree pacifists banished from their home world for not liking violence.

Avengers #124, The Priests of Pama - dead!
This seems a somewhat ironic back-story considering they were the ones who taught Mantis how to be handy in a punch-up and even, presumably, were the ones who taught her her legendary death-grip which, from last issue's example, seems to consist mostly of crushing your face between her thighs. Clearly the Kree have a somewhat liberal understanding of the word, "Pacifist."

On the art front, things are looking up considerably as John Buscema and Dave Cockrum take over to create a hybrid of their styles which looks as slick and polished as you'd expect. Mantis in particular looks the best she's ever done.

Avengers #124, the Star-Stalker
So, at last we're getting somewhere in our quest to find out what the deal is with her. Despite her protests, her knowledge of a secret panel in the temple suggests she is indeed Libra's daughter and that she was indeed raised by the Priests of Pama. But to what end?

Someone too busy to worry about that right now is the Swordsman who, after all his recent troubles, is clearly on a sad and sorry downward spiral. If only he'd never left that sideshow he used to work at.

But then, if only the Star-Stalker had had the sense to keep its trap shut.

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