AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST #1 (0f 8) - Mania.com

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The Celestial Madonna returns in a new maxi-series epic

By Arnold T. Blumberg     September 08, 2001

Steve Englehart returns to the saga of the Celestial Madonna in AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST #1.
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
It's always difficult to go back and try to recapture the glory of past triumphs, but Steve Englehart is going to give it the good old college try with this eight issue maxi-series event, AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST. Fans of the 'old' Avengers may recall that Englehart told the tale of Mantis and her destiny as the Celestial Madonna way back in the 1970s (her first appearance was in AVENGERS #112, while her origin was first revealed in #123). It was a saga that many Avengers fans still fondly remember, and although reading that story arc now may not satisfy nearly as much as it did in those halcyon days of assembling Avengers and cosmic excitement, it nevertheless retains its position as one of those Marvel Universe historical landmarks that are blissfully viewed through the rose-tinted haze of childhood.

Now Mantis and the saga of the Celestial Madonna is back, and Englehart (thankfully) is back to guide the next chapter in this multi-decade epic. Truth to tell, although quite a bit of time has passed for us in the real world, for Mantis and the Avengers it's only been five years (!) since she first burst on the scene when the star foretold her coming. I tell you, I still can't quite grasp this whole 'time foreshortening' business that Marvel keeps perpetuating. But I digress.

Thanos, that devotee of Death itself, is hunting down aspects of Mantis throughout the world, and the erstwhile Avenger sends a cry for help to the assemblers through the android, Vision. He quickly gathers the team and they set out to save Mantis from her fate, only to run afoul of Thanos himself, thus setting up the first in what will surely be a series of pitched battles between the forces of good and evil. By the first issue's conclusion, Mantis has been restored once more as the light from the mysterious star shines down upon her. "The power has multiplied by five by five times five," she proclaims, "and this one is once again one!"

Maybe it's that too much time has gone by for us, or maybe Englehart just doesn't have it anymore. Perhaps it's the pedestrian artwork by Santamara and Hanna that never rises to the challenge of depicting the start of a global/cosmic story like this one but instead plays it safe with static figures and a "traditional" superhero style. For whatever reason, this seems less like the start of something great and more like the sort of inventory story that Marvel just decided to toss out because it couldn't think of anything else. This is only the first installment, however, and there's plenty of time for Englehart and company to hit their stride and open the scope of this thing up and out to where it should be. For the memory of the Celestial saga gone by and the hope that glory days can indeed be recaptured, I'll wait and see what happens.


Grade: C+

Issue: No. 1 (of 8)

Author(s): Steve Englehart, Jorge Santamara, Scott Hanna

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $2.50



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