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Avengers: Celestial Quest #1: Review

Nov 2001
Steve Englehart, Jorge Santamaria

Story Name:

I die unknown

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: Celestial Quest #1 Review by (July 17, 2020)
The Thanos here has been retconned as 1 of several clones created by the real Thanos.
Jim Starlin invented these Thanosi in Infinity Abyss to explain why some recent apps of Thanos were evil rather than the more heroic version since Infinity Gauntlet. He never called them Thanosi. That name was invented by a contributor to the Unofficial Appendix to the Marvel Handbooks but got taken up by the real Handbooks and spread from there.
In the IA mini-series itself there will be 5 Thanosi who go rogue. But in IA#3 Thanos will explain that he'd previously used 3 other Thanosi who also went out-of-control. A low-level model attacked Ka-Zar (#1-11 including Annual 1997), a high-powered model fought Thor (#21-25 including An 2000), and the 3rd was involved in the "latest fiasco" against Thor and other Avengers (presumably this series).
There were some other Thanos apps in this time-frame. The 1st Thanosi was trapped in an interdimensional void where he also appeared in X-Man/Hulk An 1998 just after Ka-Zar.
The 2nd Thanosi got killed by Thor, so the evil Thanos cameoing in Deadpool #33 later was possibly the Thanosi in this current series.
Then Thanos appeared in Captain Marvel #17-19, but he was on the CM's side and so was the real 'good' Thanos.
Thor doesn't comment here that Thanos should be dead, but then the mad Titan has returned from death before.

Mantis was invented by by Steve Englehart for his Avengers run (#105-152 including Giant-Size Av #2-4). She appeared in #112-135 and GSAv#1-5. At the end of his run Steve left Marvel and effectively took her with him. (Some noted the remarkable similarity to Willow in his Justice League Of America for DC and Lorelei in Eclipse's Scorpio Rose. And recent Marvel Handbook entries have said that these *were* Mantis hiding with her child in alternate realities.) Later he returned to the fold and brought Mantis back in his Silver Surfer issues. But I'll leave details of her 2nd wave of apps to next issue.
The combined Mantis at the end uses her familiar habit of never referring to herself in the 1st person, but as 'this one' or 'she'. The 1st 4 Mantises this issue didn't do that, and the 5th 1 pre-merge didn't say enough to tell.

The alternate-universe heroic Squadron Supreme débuted in (original) Av#85. Haywire joined them in their own #10 along with Inertia who became his love. Inertia was killed in the SS: Death Of A Universe GN, and the rest of the Squad were transported to Earth-616. They were trapped there until a way was found to send them home (Av/SS Annual 1998), but Haywire chose to remain because there was nothing left for him in his own universe.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: Celestial Quest #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In Bombay a female green 'freak' is made to do her regular dance (and probably strip) for a paying audience. A blazing star appears in the sky above, and she has the confusing thought that it's like the 1 5 years ago - before this life. But then Thanos arrives and kills her.

In Willimantic, New Jersey another green woman wakes from a dream of the above. She knows she's Mantis and that her unhuman son Quoi has gone to live with his dad. She changes colour to her 'autumn hues' so as to pass in public. Then a star shines like the 1 in the dream, and the 1 5 years ago that announced her as the Celestial Madonna. Then Thanos arrives here too. She fights back with her martial arts but soon dies.

In Melbourne, Australia a prostitute flesh-coloured Mantis is surprised to get images of 2 copies of herself dying. She tries to run away as a 3rd star blooms. She somehow knows that the essence of the 1st victim was transmitted to the 2nd, and then both to her, and that she's not the last on the list. Then she runs into Thanos and dies like the others.

The 4th Mantis is a bald Moondragon look-alike meditating in Kew Gardens, London. She receives the knowledge of her 3 sisters and a star of her own. She also works out that their 4 longitudes are equally-spaced around the globe 72° apart, but that leaves room for a 5th copy to become the sum of them all. But before going to face Thanos she mentally sends all this information ...

... to the brain of Vision in Avengers Mansion. He rushes to interrupt the only other people in the place, Edwin Jarvis, Scarlet Witch, Silverclaw and Thor playing a holographic video game. He explains what he's just somehow come to know, that they have to fly to Alaska to save Mantis. He'll explain more on the way. Thor and Wanda Maximoff trust the synthezoid's judgement and they board a quinjet. Edwin doesn't want his young ward Lupe to go with them, but she insists she's 1 of the Avengers too (even if only a reserve 1). She tries to recall what she's heard about Mantis, and then understands a certain tension between Vision and Wanda.

Back in London Mantis IV engages in a mystic duel with Thanos (possibly on the astral plane). She holds her own but the villain claims to be a god, while she is but the 4th of 5. He has killed the freak, the mother, the prostitute and now he will add the priestess. And with her death the true complete Mantis, the sum of 2 realms, will be reborn and will know that Thanos comes for her. Then the priestess dies.

In the quinjet Thor reminisces that Mantis was very striking for a common bar girl. Vision remembers that too, and Wanda recalls how her husband, as he was for some time later, confessed that Mantis had professed love for him (original Av#128). Lupe admits to confusion about the woman, so Thor gives her a potted bio.

When they 1st met her (original Av#114) Mantis was the lover of ex-villain and 1-day Avenger (original Av#20) Swordsman who wanted a 2nd chance to be a hero. They both proved themselves, Mantis with her martial arts, but Swordsman died fighting Kang (Giant-Size Av#2). A star (Av#128) announced the imminent Celestial Madonna. The choice boiled down to Mantis and Moondragon both trained by Kree Priests Of Pama, on Titan and Earth respectively. Mantis was chosen and she married a representative of the intelligent plant race the Cotati, taking the likeness of Swordsman (GS Av#4). After that they left for space and nothing was heard about her for a long time. But there have been rumours of her return, living as a mother.

As they approach a certain spot in Alaska we jump ahead to find a young man backpacking near there, whose thoughts tell us he is from a parallel Earth. He sees strange lights over Mt Gruenwald (obviously invented in the comic in honour of Mark Gruenwald). He has forsworn getting involved in stuff like this again but he can't resist going for a look. And what he sees is Thanos fighting the 5th Mantis, in the costume she wore in the original Avengers stories, with a star overhead.

The man leaps in to help the woman, revealing himself as superhero Haywire firing his tanglewire to enmesh the villain. He and Mantis exchange names but then Thanos breaks free. However that's when the Avengers drop in. Some of them recognise Haywire from the Squadron Supreme (most recently #5-6 of the current Av run and the Av/SS Annual 1998). Vision phases through Thanos' hyper-dense body but he easily ejects the android, and holds off Scarlet Witch's hex and Thor's hammer. Silverclaw doesn't know what she can do to help.

But then the 'star' sends down a light to bathe Mantis. She proclaims that her scattered versions are joined, and her power is multiplied not by 5 but by 5 X 5 and "this 1 is once again 1". And her blast of power rocks Thanos.

Jorge Santamaria
Scott Hanna
Jorge Santamaria (Cover Penciler)
Scott Hanna (Cover Inker)
Hi-Fi (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Paul Tutrone.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


Plus: Haywire, Silverclaw (Maria de Guadalupe Santiago).

> Avengers: Celestial Quest: Book info and issue index

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