Real name: Unknown
Occupation: Barmaid / prostitute, later adventures, later Celestial Madonna
Legal status: Expatriate Vietnamese citizen granted special visa to the United States on the request of the Avengers
Former Aliases: None
Place of birth: Unknown village in Vietnam
Marital status: Married
Known relatives: Gustav Brandt (alias Lloyd Wilbughby, father; aka Libra Zodiac); Lua Brandt (mother, deceased), Khrull (uncle)
Group affiliation: Avengers
Base of operations: Temple of the Priests of Pama, Vietnam; later, Ho Chi Minh ChY (Saigon.), Vietnam; later, Avenger's Mansion, New York City; currently known
First appearance: AVENGERS Vol. 1 #112
Last appearance: Silver Surfer Vol. 3 #9
Height: 5' 6" Eyes: Green
Weight: 115 lbs. hair:Black
Skin: Green (after transformation to pure energy and recreation from plant matter)
History: Mantis was the daughter of Gustav Brandt who fought in Indochina as a mercenary soldier, and his wife Lua, the sister of Monsieur Khrull, leader of a local underworld organization. Khrull despised Europeans and was therefore infuriated by his sister's marriage. He was determined to kill both her and her husband. As a result the Brandt's fled from one Indochinese village to another for nearly ten months. Towards the end, Mantis was born, and the Brandt's decided to stop fleeing, but to remain in hiding. Nevertheless, Khrull and his men found them and used flame-throwers to set their home ablaze. Lua was killed. Badly burned and blinded, Gustav escaped with his infant daughter,who was unharmed. They both fled for days until they reached the temple of the Priests of Pama, a pacifistic sect of the humanoid alien Kree who established temples on various worlds to escape Kree persecution.
Because he was a soldier, the pacifistic Priests separated Brandt from his daughter so that they could raise her in their more peaceful ways. They tried to teach Brandt their philosophy as well, but succeeded only in teaching him how to "see" despite his blindness, presumably by psychic means. After a number of years Brandt left the temple and made his way to Honolulu, where he became a criminal under the alias of Lloyd Willoughby. Later, he joined the criminal cartel known as Zodiac under the name Libra. The Priests educated Brandt's daughter, who they knew might someday become the Celestial Madonna, the woman who would mother the Celestial Messiah, a genetically perfect being of great power who would bring peace to the universe. She proved to be especially talented in her studies of the Kree pacifists' martial arts. It was because of her skill in defeating male opponents in combat that she took the name "Mantis" after the insect whose females kill the males, Mantis was also taught to communicate telepathically with the Cotati, an alien race of telepathic plant beings, one of whom would father the Celestial Messiah, who the priests brought with them to Earth.
The growth of Mantis's telepathic rapport with the Cotati was the basis of her overall empathic nature. When Mantis had completed her training, the Priests decided that she should be sent to live among humans so as to learn what it was to be a human, Therefore, on the night of Mantis's eighteenth birthday the Priests took her, dressed in ordinary Vietnamese clothing, to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) and left her there. The Priests of Pama had removed Mantis's memories of her life at their temple, and instead gave her false memories of growing up in Ho Chi Minh City as an orphan, struggling to survive. Within hours, Mantis was taken to Monsieur Khull; neither knew of his or her familial relationship to the other. Khrull forced her to work in a bar he owned as a barmaid and prostitute.
It was there that she eventually met the Swordsman, a costumed criminal who had come to Indochina because he was wanted by legal authorities through much of the rest of the world, and was now no more then an employee of the Khrull's. Disgusted with his life, the Swordsman had become an alcoholic, but Mantis saw a buried nobility in him which made her recognize a similar spirit in herself, and made her dissatisfied with the way she was leading her own life. Mantis continually pleaded with the Swordsman to rehabilitate himself, and encouraged him to lead a life of which he could be proud. Finally, the Swordsman was severely wounded in an unsuccessful raid on warehouse belonging to a mob that was a rival of Khrull's. Mantis found him and took him to her flat where she nursed him back to health. Now the Swordsman was ready to take her advise. He decided to reform and return to America, and offer his services to the Avengers. Mantis accompanied him, and when the Swordsman was readmitted to the Avengers, she was allowed to stay at Avengers Mansion as a courtesy to him. Mantis accompanied the Avengers on their missions and proved herself to be a valuable ally.
However, while the Swordsman was deeply in love with Mantis, she believed she was not in love with him, and her disdain for his insecurities grew. After the Avengers defeated Zodiac with her help, Libra revealed to Mantis that he was her father and told her how she had been raised in a temple, although he did not explain to her who the Priests of Pama really were. One day afterwards, the Avengers were attacked by their archenemy from the future, Kang the Conqueror, who had determined that one of the women then associated with the Avengers was the Celestial Madonna. Kang knew of the prophecy that the Celestial Madonna's husband would be the "most powerful" being on Earth. It was for this reason that Kang had always attacked the 2Oth Century. Once he discovered who the Madonna was, Kang planned to father her child thereby diverging an alternate reality in which he intended to rule the universe through the powers of his son, who would be the Celestial Messiah.
Although Kang was thwarted in his plan, he discovered and revealed to Mantis and the Avengers that Mantis was the Celestial Madonna. In the course of these events, the Swordsman was killed by a stray blast from one of Kang's weapons. As the Swordsman died, Mantis, realized that she did indeed love him. He was buried in the garden of the temple of the Priests of Pama, which Mantis and the Avengers had visited after their battle with Zodiac. The Priests were now all dead, having been killed by Khrull and his men.
Later, in the Priests' temple garden in Vietnam Mantis and her Avenger comrades encountered Libra and the glowing reanimated body of the Swordsman. It was the eldest Cotati on Earth, which now resembled a large tree in the garden, which animated and spoke through the Swordsman's body. The eldest Cotati told Mantis that she was the Celestial Madonna and that he was to be her husband. He had reanimated the Swordsman's body with part of his life force since he could not mate with her in his tree like form. Their child would be "a new life form" and would be the Celestial Messiah. In honor of Mantis, the Avengers unanimously made her an Avenger. Immortus, master of time, officiated at the wedding of Mantis and the eldest Cotati. Once the ceremony was finished, the eldest Cotati (within the Swordsman's body) and Mantis both transformed themselves into pure energy and departed Earth.
After many years of seclusion, she came out of hiding to team up with the Silver Surfer against the Elders of the universe. In a ploy to stall the Surfer The Elders put both Mantis & Shalla-bal in danger. The Surfer could only save one and unconsciously chose Shalla-bal. Though Mantis appeared to die, her ability to recreate a body on any planet saved her.
Recently, in the Galactus: The Devourer mini-series, the Silver Surfer found Mantis on a planet she protected called Verdant, only to have her die before him again while she tried to save her planet from Galactus. See Galactus: The Devourer #4 for more information.
Powers: Thanks to her training by the Priests of Pama, Mantis had "complete control" over her body. Her agility was as great as any woman without superpowers could achieve. She was also capable of willing herself to recuperate quickly after being injured. Mantis had extraordinary ability in the martial arts that have been developed and perfected over thousands of years by the Priests of Pama. These fighting methods place particular emphasis on the manipulation of pressure points and nerve endings on the bodies of one's opponents. Thus, by knowing the right areas of the body to strike, Mantis could stun even a being as powerful a Thor even though she herself had no superhuman strength. Mantis had an empathetic ability which enabled her to sense the emotions of others, which she felt as psychic vibrations. After her transformation into the Celestial Madonna she had the ability to communicate with all plant life. She could also transform herself into pure energy and "beam" herself to another planet and then recreate her body from the indigenous plant life. This ability was limited to only planets with plant life. Its range is unknown but believed to be limited.
Written by Lord Thanos
Additions made by Marvelite
Image created by Lord Thanos
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