Let us here at PoP! guide you through a minefield of books that seem full of win from the word go, but which once you crack them open have you shouting… It’s a Trap!
The Avengers: Celestial Quest #1-8
Written by Steve Englehart
Art by Jorge Santamaria & Scott Hanna and Joe Staton & Scott Koblish
Published by Marvel Comics
Where are my Miracleman/Marvelman trades, Marvel? I know there’s legal wrangling to do, but at least your readers are asking for them. What they weren’t asking for was the trade of this boring miniseries that no one but the author wanted to see in the first place. Steve Englehart can be a decent writer, but this is just downright tedious. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Celestial Quest, get ready to share my pain.
You all know who Mantis is, right? Englehart created her back in the 70s and obviously loved her, using her not only in his Marvel work but also using versions of her over at DC and Eclipse Comics. In Englehart’s “Celestial Madonna” Avengers story she flirted with all the male team members and was revealed to be the titular Celestial Madonna, destined to give birth to a child who would change the universe. (The other possibilities were the Scarlet Witch, always a model parent, and Agatha Harkness, whose womb was likely filled with cobwebs.) This was accomplished by defeating Kang and then schtupping a plant-alien who took the form of her dead lover and fallen Avenger the Swordsman. You know, the usual. She faded into the background after that, being used occasionally by Englehart in other series like Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four.
Over twenty-five years later, we get this mini. Mantis has split into four women, which is something she can do apparently, and they’re being picked off by cosmic baddie Thanos. As an agent of Death, he wants to get rid of her son Sequoia, who’s off living with his plant-daddy on another world. Some A-list Avengers (and Silverclaw) come to her aid and they head off-world to stop him, accompanied by former Squadron Supreme member Haywire, who spends the entire mini whining about his dead girlfriend. Meanwhile, Thanos’s father Mentor sends his other son Starfox with a group of Titanian Eternals to halt him as well. Also meanwhile, there’s some cosmic gook out there absorbing stars that turns out to be the love child of Thanos and Death. Quoi hooks up with reptilian space-pirate Raptra, who we know is female because she has breasts. After all, reptiles are well known for nursing their young, right? Anywho, there’s fighting, Wanda is fine with Vision getting it on with Mantis, Thanos acts like a doofus, Death talks, Haywire kills himself, Mentor dies and gets better, Starfox suddenly disappears and is never mentioned again and everything works out in the end (well, except for Haywire), with Quoi and Raptra having never been heard from since. Way to go, Celestial Messiah!
Trust me, reading that just saved you the same time I wasted in reading Celestial Quest. Englehart’s writing is clunky and takes eight issues to accomplish what could have been done in four. Santamaria’s pencils are less than stellar, and this remains one of the few professional works he’s done. Mantis continued to be uninteresting until being utilized in Guardians of the Galaxy. Thankfully, Thanos was redeemed when it was retconned to be a clone who appeared here. Personally, I’m assuming every character in it was a clone, because it makes it much more tolerable. The Avengers: Celestial Quest gets 1 out of 5 naked Visions.