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Comic Book / The Celestial Madonna Saga

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"This one is not someone interesting to talk about". Yes, sure.

The Celestial Madonna Saga is a 1970s storyline of The Avengers, written by Steve Englehart. The plot is massively complex, and it is perhaps the most complex comic book plot written up to that date (and it may still give a headache to modern readers).

In short, the Swordman had returned to the Avengers and brought Mantis with him, a Vietnamese martial artist. Unraveling details of her past, which was composed of fake memories, she became the "Celestial Madonna" (the perfect human being), got married with a sentient tree and ascended to a higher plane of existence. The time-traveler Kang the Conqueror tried to abduct Mantis, but he was opposed by pharaoh Rama-Tut (a future self of Kang) and Immortus (a future self of Kang and Rama-Tut); even so he attacked a second, a third and a fourth time. The Vision discovers that his body was not created by Ultron; actually he used to be the robotic Human Torch, with a changed body and new brain patterns (this became more complicated in the future...). Agatha Harkness trained the Scarlet Witch in sorcery, so she became an actual witch, and not just a mere fancy superhero name. And, as a bonus, we also learn the origin of Moondragon.


Sounds complicated? Remember that this is just the brief introductory version.

This is a comic book without any relation to the Queen of Pop.

The Celestial Madonna Saga provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Moondragon is quite insistent that she's a goddess due to her psychic training.
  • Arc Welding: Loads of it. The story not only ties together the origins of Mantis, Moondragon, and the Kree, it also makes Immortus a future version of Kang/Rama-Tut and reveals that the Vision is the Golden Age Human Torch.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Midnight, who Kang recruits to capture Mantis with his skills. Never mind that he died fighting Shang-Chi in a martial arts duel, he still assumes his skill will win out right up until Mantis subdues him with a single hold.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The ending for Mantis and the Swordsman.
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  • Badass Boast: When Kang rants about his problems, the Flying Dutchman's Ghost lets him know how much worse being damned to wander as a spirit really is.
  • Becoming the Mask: With her studies of mystic arts, the Scarlet Witch becomes an actual witch.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Nothing can pierce Kang's personal Force Field... so Thor just hits it so hard that it and Kang are thrown around with great force anyway.
  • Body Horror: When Libra says that he is Mantis' father, she replies that he's a liar. To prove her point, she says that he also claims to be blind, and yet moves and fights as no other blind occidental may do. (She does not know Daredevil). To prove that he's not blind, she takes the bandage from his face... eek. The implied sight of burnt eyes (or, more exactly, the sight of burnt cavities that used to contain eyes) is not something easy to manage.
  • Breather Episode: "A Quiet Half-Hour in Saigon" in issue #131 works this way, since Kang is busy scheming and the Avengers aren't in battle for most of it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When he showed up for the final ascent of Mantis to Celestial Madonna, Immortus brought a box with him. Kang appeared shortly afterwards, to abduct Mantis right before her ascent, but the content of the box foiled his plan.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Moondragon answered a distress call aimed to Captain Marvel. Actually, her presence is more important for the events developing than if Marvel actually took the call.
    • The mysterious man accompanying the Avengers in the old West is really Thor as Don Blake, his mortal alter ego.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Mantis towards the Vision.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Monsieur Krull subjects the Swordsman to torture when he foolishly tries to force answers from him.
  • Crossover and Cross Through: One issue is given over to the original Thanos storyline from Captain Marvel, and Captain America's then-current storylines, also written by Engelhart, affect his status quo in this story.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The whole plot, really, down to an ersatz "star of Bethlehem" appearing over Avengers Mansion as the Madonna reveal draws near.
  • Damsel in Distress: Played with. Dormammu had both the Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkness captive, and Vision tries to rescue them. He is defeated. Then, it is the Scarlet Witch who breaks free and rescue him.
  • Death Seeker: Implied with the Flying Dutchman's Ghost, who destroys himself in order to subdue the Vision after telling Kang how awful Hell is.
  • Dirty Commies: Subverted with the Titanic Three, who started out this way in earlier stories but are now operating as superheroes in Vietnam.
  • Dirty Coward: Kang, surprisingly. He flees through time whenever it looks like he's about to lose in battle, uses time travel to his advantage by returning soon after each defeat after resting and preparing elsewhere, and conducts both of his major attacks on the Avengers by proxy using the Macrobots or the Legion of the Unliving
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Frankenstein Monster quickly abandons the Legion of the Unliving because Kang can only control the dead members, and apparently didn't realize that the monster himself is not dead... he's just made of dead body parts.
    • Similarly, Kang is finally undone when he loses track of Thor in the latter's Don Blake Secret Identity.
  • Fake Memories: To prevent Mantis from having dellusions of grandeur, the priest of Pama erased her memories of her training in the convent before releasing her to the streets of Saigon, the new memories were that she just always lived in those streets.
  • Flirting Under Fire: Mantis, the Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkess are captured by Kang and placed inside test tubes, where 2 of them are going to die. The other Avengers are captured and helpless, while Kang makes strange experiments with them, and his yet unkown plan nears completion. Mantis, Scarlet Witch... do you really think that is a good moment to discuss who deserves the love of the Vision better?
  • Future Me Scares Me: For a Blood Knight like Kang, finding out that he's destined to become a pacifist who opposes his own schemes is too much to bear.
  • Gothic Horror: Briefly with the vampire Amenhotep, and then in a more extended fashion with the Legion of the Unliving, which even includes one of the Trope Codifiers, the Frankenstein Monster.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Titanic Three, whose superheroics in Saigon are only on the margins of the story.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted: "This one has no father". To the point that the Vision has to point something Trivially Obvious: that every born person has a father
  • Jerkass Has a Point: This is Moondragon's primary character trait; other than assuming herself to be the Madonna, she's right about everything she tells the Avengers. It's just that she's so arrogant and overbearing that no one wants to hear her out.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Slasher manipulates the Avengers and the Titanic Three into fighting to cover his robberies.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: All the problem about Mantis' past began at the end of Avengers #122, when Libra claims that he is Mantis' father.
  • Madness Mantra: "Kang conquers! Kang conquers!"
  • Meaningful Echo: Some time long before this conflict, the Avengers fought against Sentinels. One scanned the Vision and reported him to be a three-decades-old android. The comment was ignored in the heat of the battle, but remembered when he learned about his origin as the Human Torch.
  • Mr. Exposition: The staff that Immortus gave to the Avengers, the other staff he gave to the Vision, the Cotati spirit, and Moondragon. The last issues have very little actual action.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: After defeating the Avengers, Kang teletransports them to his base, to use for his masterplan, but left the Swordsman behind. He said he was a weakling, not worth of his time.
  • My Future Self and Me: Kang, Ranma Tut and Immortus: three different selves of the same man.
  • My Own Private "I Do": Immortus may be the high and mighty Lord of Limbo, Master of the Timestream, Watcher of the Timelines, Keeper of the integrity of the multiverse and all the stuff you want... but he has no legal nor religious authorization to conduct weddings.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Kang's second attack. Seizing Immortus' machines, he abducts the Avengers to Limbo and raises an army of super-powered dead people via Time Travel.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Legion of the Unliving initially seem impervious to physical harm, but it's later chalked up tot he odd properties of timeless Limbo and to Kang's Mind Control over them.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kang has this reaction whenever Thor confronts him in single combat. In the epilogue arc, it leads to Kang destroying himself by overcharging his weapons in a last-ditch attempt to fend off the Thunder God.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Not only is Amenhotep from ancient Egypt, he's also only a vampire because Kang/Rama-Tut fed him a potion. He still has the usual weaknesses, though.
  • Revision: A tool used for the complexity of the story. First the Star-Stalker explains the origin of the Priests of Pama, who trained Mantis, and some issues later we hear the same story but with more details that make it more complex (details unknown by the Star-Stalker, which explains why he didn't reveal them).
  • Selective Obliviousness: Kang will never stop being Kang... no matter what does his future selves claim.
  • The Social Darwinist: Inverted. There is a "Celestial Madonna", a perfect human being, but she is not a Übermensch from a world power, but rather a poor girl from a third-world country ravaged by war. In fact, living among poor people and being one of them was precisely the reason why Mantis was selected to be the Celestial Madonna and not Moondragon, who never left the convent.
  • Taking the Bullet: The Swordsman saves Mantis from Kang, and dies in the process.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Scarlet Witch, after learning sorcery.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After learning that he becomes the benevolent Rama-Tut and the comparatively pacifistic Immortus, Kang spends the rest of the story desperately trying to avert his fate.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: So, Mantis got married... to a tree?
  • Weddings for Everyone: The story ends with not one but TWO weddings at the same time: Mantis and the Cotati spirit, and the Scarlet Witch and the Vision.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The Cotati built a garden, and won the contest with the Kree. In response, the Kree killed them all.

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