Occupation: Barmaid, later adventuress, later Celestial
Legal Status: Expatriate Vietnamese citizen, granted
special visa to the United States on the request of the Avengers
Other Aliases: The Celestial Madonna
Place of Birth: Unknown village in Vietnam
Marital Status: Married
Known Relatives: Gustav Brandt (alias Lloyd Willoughby,
father), Lua Brandt (mother, deceased), Khrull (uncle)
Group Affiliation: Avengers
Base of Operations: Temple of the Priests of Pama, Vietnam;
later, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam; later, Avengers
Mansion, New York City; currently unknown
First Appearance: AVENGERS #112
History: Mantis was the daughter of Gustav Brandt, a
German who fought in Indochina as a mercenary soldier, and his
wife Lua, the sister of Monsieur Khrull, the 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 Brandts fled from
one Indochinese village to another for nearly ten months. Towards
the end, Mantis was born, and the Brandts decided to stop fleeing,
but to remain in hiding. Nevertheless, Khrull and his men found
them and used flamethrowers to set their home ablaze. Lua was
killed. Badly burned and blinded, Gustav Brandt 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. The priests had brought some of the Cotati to Earth.
The growth of Mantis's telepathic rapport with the Cotati was
the basis for 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, two of the Priests took her, dressed in
ordinary Vietnamese clothing, to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly
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 Khrull; neither
knew of his or her familial relationship to the other. Khrull
forced her to work in a bar he owned as a barmaid. 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 than
an employee of 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 wounded in an unsuccessful
raid on a 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 advice.
He decided to reform, to return to America, and to 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 20th Century. Once he discovered who
the Madonna was, Kang planned to father her child, thereby diverging
an alternate reality in which he could 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.
Years later, Mantis began a tour the galaxy after raising her
child to self-sufficiency. She encountered the alien Silver
Surfer and nursed his injuries. Adventuring with the Surfer,
the two fell in love. Together, they stopped a plot by the Elders
of the Universe to destroy and recreate the universe. In retaliation,
the Elders presumably killed Mantis, but in actuality, she projected
her consciousness to Earth and found herself slightly amnesiac.
She returned to the Avengers to recover from her amnesia, and
in the process revived her true body.
She left to return to her child, and soon found Kang pursuing
her anew. At the same time, the Coati took custody of the child,
to Mantis' chagrin. No longer trusting the Coati, Mantis willed
her spirit to leave her body again in order to pursue them and
retrieve the child.
The ultimate fate of Mantis' child remains unknown. Mantis
reappeared to join the Silver Surfer and others in stopping
the mad rampage of the planet-eater Galactus, which ultimately
led to Galactus' death. Mantis left to resume her travels through
the universe for her own mysterious purposes.
Height: 5 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 115 lbs.
Strength Level: Mantis possessed the normal human strength
of a woman of her age, height, and build who engages in intensive
Known Superhuman Powers: Thanks to her training by the
Priests of Paine, Mantis had "complete control" over
her body. Her agility was as great as any woman without superhuman
powers 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
as Thor even though she herself had no superhuman strength.
Mantis had an empathic ability which enabled her to sense the
emotions of others, which she felt as psychic "vibrations."
To travel in space, Mantis projected her consciousness from
her body, allowing her to travel interplanetary distances. She
would recreate a body for herself out of the destination planets
local vegetation. Her fighting skills remained intact, and her
empathic abilities were heightened to a superhuman degree and
extended to the planets flora and biosphere. She could
control the vegetation within her vicinity.