Dark Horse Comics
Panya: The Mummy’s Curse is a wonderful story that brings more of Ancient Egypt to the Mignolaverse. Not even the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra has formed. This first issue of the four-volume series has a lot of nuances nestled in every page, and for a budding Egyptologist like me, it offers everything I love about this ancient world!
While long time readers of Hellboy know of the mummified version of this character, this story is about her growth from child to sorceress. Here, the title character is thrilled to learn about the old ways, and the true gods. She loves hearing about the eternal war between Ra and Apophis. But when Akhenaten changed the rules in who to worship, anyone who speaks of them better say it in hushed tones, otherwise they’ll be recognised as heretics.
Without spoiling too much, the tale offers everything I’d want to see about this world realised in a fictional form. Between that and showing Tutankhamen got me hooked. Whether this prince has a greater role to play, I’m not sure. I’ll be picking up the next issues rather than waiting months down the road to grab the trade paperback to find out!
This story by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson introduces us to what Ancient Egyptian life may have been like, and it’s beautifully drawn by Christopher Mitten. This artist uses a very familiar colour palette, which can’t be altered by much. Instead of rustic ruins, it’s all fresh; when considering the city Panya lives in was nearly built overnight, I had to grin at its connection to real world history.
To depict Apophis as a dark, evil serpent is spot on. I also like how Mitten transitions from one narrative set piece to another with art that’s deeply spiritual. For example, there’s a face of Ra in that sun, and I even giggled when Panya witnesses a dung beetle rolling a ball of excrement across the desert sand.
Because of the title, I’m wondering if the story will show to readers when this young lady will die and get mummified? When considering her age in this issue and where it has to end, where she’s an adult, that’s a lot of ground to cover. As for whether the next issue will jump forward in time to show her growth, I don’t think that’s the writer’s goal.
Given that she’ll become a powerful psychic later, I can’t wait to see whether the old pantheon of gods will assist in this transition. Newcomers will be confused about her role, but for longtime readers of Hellboy, this release fills in a huge void in Payna’s story. As for the deities who have been ousted, only three of them have appeared in other narratives. Their existance validates that certain divine forces are invested in the goings on of mortal affairs. And as for whether more are waiting in the wings, only time will tell if there’s many or Nun from the Ogdoad at all.
5 Stars out of 5