Written by Peter Milligan | Art by Ronilson Freire | Published by Titan/Hammer Comics
In today’s comics market, I couldn’t think of a better company to help usher in a new era for some classic horror characters than Titan Comics. For me, they have rarely put a foot wrong with their publishing schedules over the last two years, with a great mix of original content, reprints, and adaptations of film and TV shows. Hammer Comics have picked a good home. I found it interesting Hammer chose to launch with The Mummy, as they are more famous for their many Dracula and Frankenstein films, but then noticed that the Universal Monsters movie reboot version of The Mummy is released in 2017, so perhaps there’s a little synergy of sorts there. Or maybe this is intended to whet the appetite before the big guns appear later. Either way, the promise of original stories putting a new spin on classic characters is something to celebrate.
So, who do you turn to to launch the line, to give it that initial word of mouth? Writer Peter Milligan is just about the perfect choice, with not only a huge amount of comics experience writing for most major publishers, but also a man with a firm grasp on weird and wonderful characters. The artist, Ronilson Freire, I am a little less familiar with, but I liked the look of the preview pages a lot. So, right publisher, right character, and right creative team. Proof is in the pudding of course, so do we get the right story?
We start with a clever little opening where we think we are in ancient Egypt, as you would expect, but are in fact in a secret Egyptian temple in Kensington, in the heart of London. These are a group of cultists, The Sect of Anubis, who Milligan does a good job of showing as pretty mundane people in most respects, but also happy to kill people and drink their blood in return for extended lives as gifts from the gods. The only proviso is they need a female vessel, to channel an Egyptian priestess, and their most recent one is now dead, so the hunt is on for a new one. The woman must have the Mark of Kharis, a sort of birth mark, on her, and to this end they have set up a worldwide girl trafficking ring to find the ‘lucky’ one. They find one in Angelina Kostenko.
They perform a pretty nasty ritual on Angelina, and wait for her transformation into their priestess to occur, a process they have used on many young girls for generations. Turns out though that these decadent old men have enemies too, and The Pyramid Club launch an attack on them ,allowing Angelina/Isis to escape. She has begun to cover herself in bandages like a mummy, as the ceremony compels her to do, and is finding a strange voice talking to her in her head. Oh, and what’s that big green demon thing doing that is coming for her…
This was a solid introductory issue from Milligan, laying out an interesting story while introducing us to all the main players, or at least the ones we need to know about at the moment. He also managed to successfully combine the flavour of the old, the decadent old boys club cultists could have stepped out of a Hammer film from the fifties, with the new. His use and mentions of illegal immigrants and sex trafficking are obviously topical, and nicely used to be the cover for how the cultists find their victims. A very successful fusion. Angelina/Isis has promise as the main character, and is certainly unlike any Mummy we have seen so far. Loved the little line about Londoners being too polite to stare, even though there’s a young woman in mummy bandages wandering around.
Freire’s artwork was also solid. It was in what is almost like the Titan house style now, very clean lines, great layouts, and great use of panel size and shape. I especially like some of the choices of ‘camera’ angle he uses, and of the close up facial shots to really convey emotions. The Egyptian scenes and costumes are especially good. The colouring throughout also really brings the art to life.
Very strong first issue, a perfect launch for the both the line and this particular book. Loved the text article about the original film too.