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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

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"The Rise and Fall of Xango's Ax" Part 1
The Mummy: The Rise and Fall of Xango's Ax #1 (IDW)
Story by Joshua Jabcuga
Art by Stephen Mooney
Published April 2008

Alex O'Connell, now a university student, plays hooky from school to track down his missing boyhood idol, adventurer/treasure-hunter Lord Horwood.

 

Read a brief summary of the mini-series at The Mummy Chronology

 

Didja Know?

 

The issue opens with patrons in a movie theater watching newsreel footage from World News Now. This appears to be a fictional newsreel series of the time, based on the Movietone News newsreels that ran in U.S. theaters from 1928-1963 and 1929-1979 in the UK. There is currently a late-night news show on the ABC television network called World News Now which has been on since 1992.  

 

The World News Now logo may be intended as an homage to the Universal Pictures logo of 1936-1946. (Universal is the studio that owns the Mummy franchise.)

 

The newsreel mentions the Smithsonian Institution, an educational and research institute funded by the U.S. government, headquartered in Washington D.C. and known for its museums and large collection of historical artifacts. The picture shown in the newsreel is of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

 

The newsreel compares the disappearance of Lord Horwood with that of Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart was an American aviatrix who disappeared in 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a small airplane.

 

Langford remarks that Lord Horwood had been granted a concession of land in the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings is a real world archaeological site in Egypt where the Pharaohs of the Egyptian New Kingdom (16-11th Centuries BC) were entombed.

 

Page 4 takes the reader to Burma, which is a real country in Southeast Asia, now more commonly known as Myanmar. During the time of this story, Burma was under the rule of British India.

 

The winning poker hand held by Horwood in panel 1 of page 5 is a royal flush, the highest rank in straight poker.

 

On page 8, Alex tells his father to stop treating him like an 8 year old kid. This is probably an intentional callback by the writer to The Mummy Returns, in which Alex was introduced when he was 8 years old.

 

Also on page 8, Rick reveals that the train Alex is on is bound for the Valley of Rubies. This is the real world region around the city of Mogok in Burma known for its mining of precious gems, particularly rubies.

 

Notice during the attack on the train that the rhinos being ridden by the natives have holes in their skin revealing muscle and bone structure underneath, an early indication of their undead status. Later, we see the attacking natives are also similarly rendered.

 

   On page 18, the undead natives demand the return of the Third Eye of Shangri-La, a large ruby once possessed by Xango, the god of thunder.

   The Third Eye of Shangri-La appears to be a fictional artifact invented for this story.

   Xango is considered the thunder god of the Yoruba religion, originating in the Assyrian Empire in the 7th Century BC.

   Shangri-La is the name of the lost utopian city in Tibet in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon. It seems extremely unlikely that any Burmese natives would have an artifact referring to a fictional city from a 20th Century western novel. It seems that within the Mummy universe, Shangri-La is an actual place of legend in the far east; to go a step further, possibly the novel itself takes place in that same universe!

 

On the last page of the story, the native leader (who is revealed as Xango himself in "The Rise and Fall of Xango's Ax" Part 2) appears to be riding a mammoth (confirmed in "The Rise and Fall of Xango's Ax" Part 2).

 

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