"Mantra is a man, he just has a
woman's body. It was from this dichotomy that Mantra sprang. From the major
theme--a switch in genders--came the minor theme of the series: a warrior who
must become a sorcerer, a slayer who must become a nurturing mother, a man who
has died hundreds of times must become a woman who can only die once. That's
the conundrum--and appeal--of Mantra."
- Mike Barr, creator of Mantra (1994 Ultraverse Collector Card)
In 1993, Malibu comics launched the Ultraverse line of books, which featured a number of brand-new characters developed by respected writers who enjoyed a tremendous degree of creative control over their creations. One of the most unique comics in this new lineup was Mantra. Written by Mike Barr, this book chronicled the adventures of the eponymous heroine, who for 1500 years had fought, died and been reincarnated as the male knight Lukasz before being reincarnated one final time into a body which his master had decided was better suited towards learning the ways of sorcery. That body belonged to Eden Blake, an attractive divorcee and mother of two young children.
To put it mildly, Lukasz was not at all happy with this arrangement.
On his/her own for the first time in centuries, Lukasz fought to learn the ways of magic while being forced to adapt to his new situation. For a long time, he was incensed with his feminine condition, detesting his female body and resenting the children he had been saddled with, constantly searching for ways to regain his lost manhood. Over time, however, he began to care for the children and eventually, out of love for them and respect for their mother, started to accept his new role.
Then the dark times came...literally.
After Malibu was bought out by Marvel comics, the Ultraverse was forced to endure "Black September," an attempt to re-create the characters in Marvel's image. For a mainstream comics company, apparently the idea having one of their main female characters having once been a man was too much, so they passed the Mantra powers off to a teenage girl, and gave Lukasz/Eden a less than graceful departure. Perhaps mercifully, the comic was canceled soon after.
In respect to the original character (arguably the longest-running and most mainstream treatment a transgendered character has ever received in the comics), I've put together a number of images and links featuring the Ultraverse's "Golden Sorceress."
NOTE: I've managed to accumulate a lot of Mantra-related stuff, far more than can be reasonably presented here. So I've taken it upon myself to create the Mantraverse, the mother of all Mantra sites. In the meantime, however, here are a few of the more TG-related images from the comic. Enjoy!