The Hero Interview


From Hero Illustrated #2, August 1993

(Note that this appears on the back of a fold-out poster from the same magazine.)

Hero: Faster than you can say the Crying Game Part II, there have been a whole slew of new superheroes. Today we're talking with one of the newest heroes to appear in the Ultraverse, Mantra. Mantra, how are you today?

Mantra: Please call me Lukasz. Mantra is a name that the press has given me.

Hero: Lukasz. Okay, Mantra, if my information serves me correctly, you say you are a man?

Mantra: Yes, I am a man trapped in this woman's body.

Hero: ...and that you are a warrior who has been fighting a battle for 1500 years...a male warrior...?

Mantra: Yes.

Hero: You follow a leader by the name of Archimage.

Mantra: Archimage is a wizard who battles his own brother, an evil wizard who goes by the name Boneyard.

Hero: Is Archimage around?

Mantra: Archimage was the leader of our forces for many years. He has since been captured by Boneyard.

Hero: Where did Boneyard take Archimage?

Mantra: I'm not sure about that. I'm sure Boneyard is back in his own mystical dimension with Archimage as his captive.

Hero: Is this person Boneyard still engaging in this war?

Mantra: That is correct. It is the battle between Darkness and Light.

Hero: By this do you mean good and evil or are they just swell names for the organizations?

Mantra: To my mind, it is a battle between good and evil.

Hero: So, Mantra, is this battle still going on?

Mantra: Please call me Lukasz. The battle is still going on, although in an altered form, for years...for centuries. I was one of the leaders of the forces of Archimage who fought the forces of Boneyard. Any time that we would encounter each other, the survivors would continue on their way and the victims on Archimage's side would be reincarnated in different bodies. Our souls would simply take over existing male bodies and we would resume the fight.

A beautiful babe outside, but all man on the inside.

Hero: Were these people that you took over or reincarnated into already existing people? Did they have anything to say about this?

Mantra: No, it was simply an instantaneous process. Whenever we have possessed new bodies the old soul has simply been expelled. For all intents or purposes they're dead.

Hero: As a soldier of the Light, do you see this as a good thing?

Mantra: It's an unfortunate thing, of course, for the previous souls, but this is after all a war and there are casualties in war.

Hero: ...And now you've possessed a woman's body that had a life before you got there.

Mantra: Yes, emphatically. She has two small children. They have a grandmother, but this far I have been unable to convince her to take the children full time.

Hero: So you have to operate as their mother. Tell us about them.

Mantra: The boy's name is Gus, named after their father...I think. I believe he's about ten years old. There's a little girl whose name is Edie.[sic] She's six years old.

Hero: What happened to Eden's husband?

Mantra: Apparently, they divorced. I have no idea where he is or where he lives. I have not encountered him yet, thank heaven. The last thing I want to enounter now is a man who has been intimate with this body.

Hero: How do her children feel about this?

Mantra: The children, which is one of the biggest problems of this whole mess, don't know that this has happened to their mother. They still think that I'm her. I have to continue the facade of being their mother for now. You see, our forces were decimated by a betrayal within us. When Archimage was captured by Boneyard, I was one of the last warriors remaining alive and reincarnated into this body. if Boneyard's forces find me while I'm in this body, I don't want to think about what they'll do.

Hero: Aren't there any other soldiers from Archimage's forces who are still alive or have been reincarnated?

Mantra: I'm told that of the original twelve, there are three others still existing. I've been trying to find the other three. I haven't yet. One of them is certainly the betrayer.

Hero: Do you have any problems adjusting to the modern world?

Mantra: The modern world is something I am well acquainted with since I have lived in every age since the 400s. It's the body I'm inhabiting that's giving me all the problems.

Hero: What do you make of all the other superheroes around you...or how do you fit in with them?

Mantra: This is the first incarnation that I have had where I had super powers. I was told that that's why I was put into this body, to learn the way of sorcery after all those years of being a warrior. Frankly, I would prefer just being a warrior.

Hero: I can imagine how difficult it can be...

Mantra: Well, you can't imagine. You have no idea what it's like.

Hero: I'm sorry, but I am very confused by all of this...

Mantra: Don't misunderstand, I'm still a man right now. I'm just currently wearing the body of a woman.

Hero: I don't want to insult you, but have you explored the scientific means to resolve the situation?

Mantra: That isn't something I have time to pursue. I'm trying to perfect the sorcerous abilities I'm told are inherent in this body so that I can protect myself from the forces of Boneyard and free Archimage. Once Archimage is free, I'm praying that he'll turn me back into a man.

Hero: I've heard about a guy called Warstrike. Does he have any particular affiliation with Boneyard?

Warstrike, Mantra's best buddy and her killer.

Mantra: Warstrike was hired by Boneyard's forces. Boneyard's forces misrepresented themselves, and hired Warstrike to assault our forces. Warstrike...well actually this is a sore subject...Warstrike killed my last male incarnation.

Hero: You must really hate that guy.

Mantra: Warstrike and I are actually allies now. Warstrike is the only other person living who knows who I truly am. he was lied to by one of Boneyard's representatives. He hires himself for those jobs that he thinks are for the good of mankind.

Hero: You work with the guy who killed you?

Mantra: I'm afraid so. Warstrike knows who I am and where to find me. Warstrike is one of the most frustrating things about being Eden. Warstrike takes no end of pleasure in teasing me abot what I've coming on to me.

Hero: At this point, Warstrike must have to protect you in some situations.

Mantra: He feels that he has to. Again, I think sometimes he uses those opportunities as an attempt to ingratiate himself to me or attempt some kind of a physical relationship. This is, of course, out of the question.

Hero: You never had magical powers before in your previous incarnations?

Mantra: All those years when I worked under Archimage, he handled all the mysticism involved. Now, I'm told with Archimage captured by Boneyard, that I have to learn the ways of sorcery. I don't know much about [it], and don't really care to.

Hero: I may be able to accept that you were once a man, but if you hate it so much why do you wear such a provocative outfit?

Mantra: There's nothing I can do about that. From what I understand, each part of the outfit has something to do with mysticism or enhancing the magic powers latent in this body. I don't like the outfit, in fact I despise it. There's nothing I can do about it. At least it doesn't have high heels.

Hero: Are you having a tough time just dealing with men? They must be chasing after you all the time.

Mantra: They are. Unfortunately, this body is a magnet for men. There's nothing I can do about that. They don't want to take no for an answer.

Hero: Do you use your warrior skills on them?

Mantra: I have no warrior skills in this body. That's one of the problems. Eden Blake's body has no warrior skills whatsoever. So, I must to learn [sic] the ways of magic. From what I've been told, I can't reincarnate again. I'm terrified of the prospect of dying forever and do everything in my power to survive.

Hero: Nothing that you learned in your previous incarnations can be used?

Mantra: I retain all the memories of my warrior skills, but Eden does not possess the physical power or skill to carry them out. That's something I'm finding very hard to adjust to.

Hero: What kind of a warrior were you before? Were you "the best at what you do?"

Mantra: I was an excellent warrior. I was able to follow orders, and yet I was able to take initiative when I needed to. Archimage saw to it that all the male bodies I was reincarnated into were physically able to handle the requirements involved in fighting Archimage's wars.

Hero: And now you're in a position where you can't protect yourself like you did before. This must be infuriating.

Mantra: That's one of the most irritating facets of being trapped in this body, the lack of physical power I'm used to.

Hero: Are you angry about being put into this situation and having to deal with the sort of things women have to deal with?

Mantra: Yes, I'm extremely angry about it. When Archimage is freed, he'll have a lot to answer for. Archimage never took me into his confidence to tell me that this was one of his backup plans. I think I had earned that after all these years. Even though I did not betray him, I feel as if I have been betrayed by him.

Hero: How do you hold a job and operate as a superhero?

Mantra: That has got to be one of the biggest problems. In previous incarnations, Archimage always provided the funds to carry on the war in exclusion of everything else. In those previous incarnations, I was simply able to leave my job or whatever relationships that body was involved in. Archimage would take care of that through several cover organizations, giving legal help or financial help or things of that nature. I can still access the people involved, but don't forget that one of the people who fought for Archimage betrayed him. I can't go to these people, certainly not in this body, and present myself as Lucasz [sic] or I might be playing into their hands.

Hero: Did you ever think that the longer you stay in that body, the more feminine you will get?

Mantra: No, I'm actively resisting that. I don't intend to be in this body for very long.

Hero: You can't accept that there is a possibility that you may be stuck in that body forever?

Mantra: I accept the possibility that I may be in this body for a long time, but I am a soldier. I am used to self discipline. I am determined no matter what urges this body may feel...I 'm still a man.

Hero: Did you ever think that maybe Archimage did what he did for a purpose. Maybe, the fact that you have been a person who's only focus was battle, to cast aside the women and children that you have been with over the years, to miss out on life itself. Had it occurred to you that some good might come out of this for you?

Mantra: No.

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