Lukasz's Song

by Christopher Leeson

I was born some fifteen-hundred years ago,
Just about the time that Rome was falling low.
I spent the whole Dark Ages
As a knight of Archimage's,
A white wizard from the Godwheel's overflow.


I'm one undying champion,
Of several you may meet,
Bravely decorated,
I've but seldom known defeat.
I protected Earth from chaos,
But yet never sought for fame --
And if you've never heard of me,
Well, then, Lukasz was my name.

'Seems my patron had his brother for a foe,
A scar-faced, necromancing so-and-so.
From his gloomy off-world tower
He'd come hither with his power,
'Cepting that our knightly order told him "No!"

Now a higher-hazard duty
You've never seen before --
Oft sent by swords and axes
To the threshold of Death's door.
Though very disconcerting,
One could count on coming back --
So all of us were grateful
That old Archi had the knack.


We fought from Liverpool to Tambaichi;
I was trundled to the Soul-Walk constantly.
But by Archi's incantations,
I lived endless incarnations,
Never knowing who or what I next might be.

Oh, I was an Asian swordsman
In cold Mount Fuji's snow;
A tattooed Zulu war-chief
And a mighty Eskimo;
I've been a dauntless Tommy
And a whaler in a boat --
And if you can believe it,
A bushwhacker with a Colt!

I saw the Hundred Years War when it came;
I knew the Maid of Orleans -- what a dame!
I thought she was a looker
Till the auto-da-fe took her
And they made a bean trademark of my old flame.

The Soulwalk

Well, sometimes it was rough-going --
Hard knocks along the way,
But we had our pick of pleasures,
Relaxation, and horse play.
Thanasi I could count on,
Until something drove him mad --
And took from me the finest friend
A man has ever had.

Once we had the Bard of Avon for a host;
He took us out a'hunting near the coast.
When he got filthy drunk and fox-bored
Bill confessed the Earl of Oxford
Had written all the plays as Shakespeare's ghost.

So we had a good thing going,
Till Archi was betrayed --
Thanasi courted Boneyard
With the name he had mislaid.
Our patron went to prison,
And us knights all died in gore --
Except that by a magic-trick
I transmigrated one time more.


Up front there was a wall-mirror I could see --
A wide-eyed raven beauty gaped at me.
She was my own reflection,
So I cried out in invection:
"Holy God who waits in heaven, this can't be!"

Her name, it seems, was Eden --
A sultry divorcee.
Because she was a sorceress,
Arch gave her shape to me.
Instead of live a life like that
I rather would rot dead --
But by a tragic blunder
I removed my wizard's head!

So I inherited fair Eden's family,
An old mother, son, and small girl princip'ly.
I soon learned to love my daughter
And despise the children's father,
But that troubled boy will be the death of me!

"Eden" looks in the mirror

I'm one undying champion,
Of several you may meet;
Widely celebrated,
I've but seldom known defeat.
I'm protecting Earth from chaos
And cannot escape my fame --
If no one here has guessed it,
Well, then, Mantra is my name.





For readers unfamiliar with the saga of Mantra (Marvel Comics) these notes are given in explanation:

(Stanza 1) "Godwheel" -- A huge artificial world shaped like a pancake, built by a lost race of super-beings. Many civilizations exist upon it, some practicing magic. Archimage originally ruled a kingdom on the Godwheel.

(Stanza 3) "his brother for a foe" -- Archimage had a brother named Boneyard, a black magician who rebelled and drove Archimage from the Godwheel. Archimage went to Earth and gathered twelve of Earths best warriors together to combat the forces of Boneyard.

(Stanza 5) "the Soul-Walk" -- The Soul-Walk was a way-station between life and death where the souls of Archimage's slain warriors waited briefly for their master's magic to bring them back to life in the body of another living person. Thousands of men died a soul-death for the sake of Archimage's knights over the course of fifteen hundred years, a fact which has heavily burdened Lukasz's conscience.

(Stanza 7) "the Maid of Orleans" -- Joan of Arc, of course, the national heroine of France. Joan was captured by the English and burned alive on a politically-manipulated charge of witchcraft. There is currently a line of canned beans called "Joan of Arc," produced by Pillsbury. The "autoda-fe" was the ceremonial burning of a witch or heretic.

(Stanza 8) "Thanasi" -- Only an onset of insanity can explain how Lukasz's best friend could after so many centuries of loyalty have suddenly become a treacherous, paranoid, power-grasping murderer.

(Stanza 9) "the bard of Avon" -- William Shakespeare, natch. The best Shakespearean scholarship argues that an Earl of Oxford used Shakespeare, the owner of a London theater, as a front-man for publishing his drama and poetry, since literary creation was considered an unacceptable pastime for a nobleman.

(Stanza 10) "the name he had mislaid": In the system of magic followed by Archimage and Boneyard, an enemy who possesses the secret name of a sorcerer has power over him. Somehow Thanasi discovered Archimage's secret name and sold it to Boneyard. The latter received the magical power to travel from body to body, until Thanasi grew so jealous of Mantra's power that took possession of a powerful young sorceress of his own, becoming the vicious femme fatale "Necromantra."

(Stanza 12) "her name, it seems, was Eden" -- Knowing himself in danger, Archimage planned in advance that his most trusted knight, Lukasz, would reincarnate into the body of a magic-user. Unfortunately, the only powerful magic-user Archimage knew about at that time was a beautiful woman, Eden Blake, a divorced mother of two. Eden never suspected that a legacy of magic existed in her bloodline (similar to the sisters in the current the television series "Charmed"). Lukasz had no choice but to became the ultra heroine "Mantra," a role and name which he didn't care for.

(Stanza 12) "I removed my wizard's head" -- Determined to free Archimage and receive a new, male body in reward, Mantra made a desperate foray into Boneyard's kingdom, where she managed to raise a rebellion and drive Boneyard from his throne. Alas, the evil sorcerer cast an illusion upon the his fair enemy to make her think that Archimage was Boneyard -- and so in the heat of battle Mantra killed the one man who could have freed her from her female shape.

(Stanza 13) "that troubled boy will be the death of me" -- Eden here is talking about Gus, her emotionally scarred son who, hurt by his parent's divorce (two years before Lukasz showed up) and feeling neglected by his father, is full of repressed anger. In one time-line universe (only one of many such time-lines) Gus accidently gained magical powers and lashed out at his mother, injuring her seriously enough to end her super career. At this awkward point, Marvel Comics chose to suspend the entire Malibu Ultraverse magazine line. Hopefully, present and future fans of Mantra shall show enough interest and exert enough pressure on Marvel to persuade it to resurrect comicdom's most unique heroine.


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