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  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I just keep on piling in comic reviews nobody asked for!

 
We're up to part THIRTEEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Party! Looking around the room, I see that there's something missing.  Let's see. . .monsters, aliens, vampires, ghosts, werewolves. . .GOT IT!  Let's invite a MUMMY to this thing!
 
Number thirteen.  Lucky or unlucky? Let's find out!

SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #5

Marvel (1973)

 
 
COVER: Rich Buckler (with John Romita, Sr.)
 
THE COVER:
 
I really like this cover.  Rich Buckler does a fine job of capturing the looming menace of the bandaged bad guy!  This is a cover that displays the FULL fury of Mighty Marvel Bombast with all the text. . .I can almost hear a guy doing an overblown, yet earnest, narration over an old-school movie trailer.  Overall, this is a great Halloween cover and a frequent flier on my October Halloween theme "Wall O' Covers" display.
 
THE LIVING MUMMY!
 
SCRIPT:  Steve Gerber
PENCILS: Rich Buckler
INKS: Frank Chiaramonte
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in Israeli-occupied Egypt. . .The Gaza Strip, 1973.  A pair of Israeli soldiers have a horrifying encounter in the middle of the night with a gigantic bandaged being.  
 
The encounter leaves one soldier dead as the creature wanders off into the night. . .
 
 
Shifting scenes to Cairo several days later, we are introduced to Ron and Janice, two anthropologists, as well as their friend and mentor, Doctor Skarab, which is in no way a villain name. Nope.  
 
The three of them have been working together to solve a historical mystery. . .a missing African tribe and a missing Pharaoh from a little known period of African history.  
 
Skarab has just finished translating a papyrus that sheds some light on their quest.
 
 
The papyrus tells the story of the Pharaoh Arem-Set and how he enslaved an African tribe called the Swarilis to build a temple to his glory.  
 
The Swarilis had a mighty king named N'Kantu, a giant of a man whose spirit was never broken by the abuse heaped on him by the Egyptians.  At night, he and the rest of the tribe plotted rebellion and escape. . .
 
 
Learning of the rebellion through his high priest, Nephrus, the Pharaoh decides that once his temple is finished, he will put the entire Swarili tribe to death .
 
But somehow, N'Kantu learned of the Pharaoh's plans to destroy his tribe.  And so, when the temple was complete and the tribe were being led into the depths to be killed, N'Kantu and the Swarili's strike!
 
The slaves lead a revolt to the very halls of the Pharaoh's palace.  N'Kantu kills the Pharaoh with a spear, and then rushes in to find and kill the high priest!
 
 
As N'Kantu confronts Nephrus, the wicked priest throws a paralyzing drug into the African King's eyes! Unable to move or lead his people, the rebellion is quickly put down and Nephrus drags K'Kantu into the temple to enact his revenge on the rebellious slave King!
 
N'Kantu is forced to take even more paralyzing drugs, as well as a concoction that Nephrus tells the unfortunate King will make him immortal!  And then, the full wickedness of the priest's punishment is made horribly clear as N'Kantu is wrapped in bandages and put into a coffin, where Nephrus tells him he will remain, alive but unable to move. . .forever.
 
But shortly after N'Kantu is buried alive, a massive earthquake completely destroys the city and temple.  Nephrus escapes alive, but his fate is lost to history. . .
 
 
After he's finished telling the strange tale on the papyrus, Doctor Skarab begins to monologue in an ABSOLUTELY non-villainous way about how he believes the is the ancestor of the High Priest Nephrus, and that if the story on the papyrus is true (as he believes), then the secret of immortality could be found if they could only find where N'Kantu is buried and then study him!  
 
Ron just sort of laughs it all off as Doctor Skarab just needing some rest.  After all, you'd have to be crazy to believe all that, right? RIGHT?
 
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .
 
The mummy has somehow been drawn to Cairo, where it is wreaking havoc through the city, confused at its strange surroundings and not understanding why he's there.  Doctor Skarab sees the news reports of the enraged creature bashing his way around Cairo and tells Ron and Janice that this is their chance to try and capture the mummy and study it!
 
As the three of them rush off, they don't realize that the mummy has been drawn to Skarab's home.  He arrives moments after they leave and falls, exhausted, to the floor of Skarab's study into a deep sleep.
 
 
When Doctor Skarab and company return, they are astounded to find the object of their search just laying there on the study floor sleeping.  Skarab immediately grabs a pistol and tries to shoot the mummy in the head, only to discover that bullets don't harm it.  Worse, the shot wakes the mummy!
 
The mummy rises, begging Skarab to save him in ancient Egyptian. . .calling the doctor Nephrus.  Janice and Ron don't CARE what the mummy is trying to say.  They get the heck outta there!
 
 
Outside Skarab's house, the police have followed the mummy and are setting up to rush in just as Janice and Ron rush out.  They hit the mummy with some tear gas as it chases Janice and Ron, but all that does is make it angry and sort of sad for some reason.
 
The police open fire and find out that their bullets don't hurt the mummy either. . .but now they've made it mad!  He pulls up a power pole and gets ready to deliver a sound beating to the horrified police.
 
Janice sees the sparking electricity from the live wires and realizes that the mummy doesn't understand the danger.  She goes from fleeing victim to would-be savior in a snap, shouting that SHE MUST SAVE HIM! While Ron and Skarab try to restrain her.
 
 
But Janice's shouts are in vain.  The mummy steps into some water and instantly learns a very valuable lesson in modern energy as it is electrocuted!
 
After the monster falls, Skarab steps forward and tells the police that he wants to study the creature for not at ALL villainous purposes.  They don't know what else to do with the thing, and so the police give him permission to take the body and we end the story with the mummy laying there in the street, dead.  
 
OR IS HE? DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!
 
 
The End.
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not bad.  I liked it.  The story has a definite B-Movie vibe to it that makes it fun.  Ron and Janice's oblivious ignorance to their part in Doctor Skarab's pretty obvious villain origin story is just so rich and cheesy to read.  You can tell that Steve Gerber was having a bit of fun writing this one.  Underneath all the darkness and overblown drama, there's an undercurrent of subversive humor that takes a little while to even see is there.  
 
But slathered thickly on top of that undercurrent is a pretty basic "Monster on the loose" story.  And that's a fun story too!  Reading this, it occurred to me that there's really not that many mummy comics out there. 
 
 I guess it's kind of hard to keep following the same "He was buried alive!" story path over and over again.  Gerber does a decent job of switching things up by making the mummy an African slave instead of an Egyptian nobleman or priest like you would normally expect in a mummy story.
 
On the art side of things, Rich Buckler was a VERY prolific mainstay artist.  Not the greatest Bronze Age artist, and not my favorite, but a solid artist with a LOT of  good work under his belt.  This isn't Buckler's best work, but it's pretty good.  There's even a few standout moments here and there.
 

CONCLUSION

 
All in all, this is a comic that's just plain fun.  It's cheesy and ridiculous and ends pretty abruptly, but that doesn't stop this from being just a fun monster story backed up with some pretty good art.  And really. . .what more can you ask for in a comic book?  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. . .not every comic has to be a masterpiece.  Sometimes you just want a fun story!
 
I guess enough people agreed with that sentiment to carry what would SEEM to be a one and done monster story forward into several decades worth of appearances, right up to his recent "death" at the hands of Deadpool in 2014.  Forty years? Not a bad run for a character that seems to die in his very first story.
 
I can heartily recommend this issue to anyone looking for a good Bronze Age monster story, as well as the remaining 9 out of 10 issues of Supernatural Thrillers starring the character, mostly in the hands of Tony Isabella and artist Val Mayerik (who does a MUCH better job with the mummy than Rich Buckler, in my humble opinion).    I WAS going to do a review of one of the Isabella/Mayerik issues, but I just love the cover on this one more. 
 
Finding this issue (or any issue of Supernatural Thrillers) in the bargain bin probably isn't going to happen (but never say never!).  They aren't the kind of "valuable" that will put your kids through school, but there's a little money in them for collectors who care about that sort of thing. 
 
The good news is that the issues have all been reprinted at least 3 times in various collections and omnibus editions, so if you just want to read the stories without digging too deep into your wallet, you can do that.  
 
Overall, if you're looking for a fun Bronze Age monster story, Supernatural Thrillers #5 is where it's at!
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
How about a little more DC-flavor Bronze Age spooky stuff?
TALES OF GHOST CASTLE #3!
 
Be there or be square.

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