In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.
With “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opening up in the States this weekend, CBR re-posted an article I did about the history of Mantis, who will be making her film debut in the new movie.
Reader Mike G. wanted to hear more details about an abandoned storyline that I had mentioned once in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed. So read on to learn about Mantis’ aborted return to the Avengers!
“West Coast Avengers” #37 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Mike Machlan) was about the dissolution of the West Coast Avengers over the break-up of Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s marriage. Hawkeye was writing a pretty distinct line in the sand when it came to Mockingbird being willing to let the man who raped her, the Phantom Rider, die. He forced the rest of the team to either side with him or Mockingbird. Two other members of the team, Tigra and Moon Knight, sided with Mockingbird. Hawkeye, meanwhile, only had Wonder Man due to the other members of the team being gone for various reasons (Iron Man for “Armor Wars” and Hank Pym to deal with his seemingly dead wife who was now apparently alive again). Their most recent mission had involved the Scarlet Witch and Vision (who Englehart famously married off during his initial “Avengers” run) and the two decided to stay on, as Englehart was clearly getting ready for the next step in his run on the book (which he had been writing since the first issue of the ongoing series), and clearly, he intended on Mantis (a character he had created in that aforementioned first run on “Avengers”) being a part of it…
(Doesn’t she know that Wonder Man’s fists are like Thor’s hammer??!)
After Hawkeye figures out that Mantis is being mind-controlled, he resolves the fight and she tells why she’s there…
So clearly, this was the start of an ongoing plot by Englehart (it led into the “West Coast Avengers Annual” for that year, as both Hawkeye’s team and Mockingbird’s team got involved in a storyline) but Englehart was then fired from the series (as Marvel had gotten John Byrne back and Byrne was set to take over the series in a few issues). So this is one of those rare instances where the “abandoning” was technically done by the guy who got his story abandoned in the first place. The next issue was a fill-in and then, in “West Coast Avengers” #39 (by Englehart and Milgrom), Englehart resolved the Avengers-side of the story, by having Mantis’ identity problem resolved right away…
This wasn’t Englehart’s first rodeo, though, of course, so he cleverly just edited his “West Coast Avengers” scripts into a storyline on a series that he was still writing (for now), “Fantastic Four,” and he resolved the whole dual personality aspect by writing Mantis out seemingly for good (or until Englehart returned to the character, whichever came first…Englehart returning came first).
It would have been interesting to see Mantis getting a shot at a real stint with the Avengers. Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch and Mantis is a really funky lineup.
Thanks to Mike for the suggestion! If anyone has a suggestion of an interesting abandoned comic book plot, drop me a line at email@example.com!