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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Valley of the Gods"
The Mummy: Valley of the Gods #1 (Chaos!)
Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by Mat Broome
Published May 2001

On an extended honeymoon in Egypt, Rick and Evie are summoned to assist one of Evie's old professors at an ancient tomb which may point the way to the long-forgotten Valley of the Gods.


Story Summary


Professor Julian Winter, assisted by Ardeth Bay, uncovers a previously unknown tomb. On the exterior wall of the tomb, Professor Winter espies an image of the Orb of Destiny, an object of which he was recently in possession and which he'd sent on to Evie. Opening the doorway, their crew is attacked by a specter-like ibis. One worker loses his life to the apparition, while the rest of the crew escapes.


Winters summons Rick and Evie to the dig site and instructs them to bring the Orb of Destiny. The two do so, along with Jonathan, but, not knowing exactly what is up, leave the orb in their hotel room as they join the crew at the dig. Reopening the tomb, the group is attacked by a group of animal apparitions. Guns prove useless against the phantoms. Rick instinctively grabs an old stone tablet as a shield and it seems to frighten off the beasts.


Examining the tablet, Evie realizes it is a map to the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Gods. The Valley of the Kings has already been uncovered, but the Valley of the Gods is unknown. The hieroglyphs describe it as "where those who must be worshipped await their awakening."


Soon, the group has traveled to the specified location, to find nothing but desert sand. Then, suddenly, twin pillars of sand swirl up to form towering giant warriors, trapping the group between them.




Didja Know?


This is part one of what was intended to be a 3-part story. The other two chapters were never published, as Chaos! Comics filed for bankruptcy in 2002.


The issue describes this story as taking place in 1927, about a year after the events of The Mummy.


Rick and Evie are newlyweds on extended honeymoon in this story.


Didja Notice?


The scenes set in ancient Egypt are said to take place during the Eleventh Dynasty. This was approximately 2134-1991 BC.


The ancient scene depicted on pages 1-2 take place outside Ammon. Ammon was a nation that existed in what is modern-day Jordan during the 10th-4th Centuries BC. However, this was long after the Eleventh Dynasty as described.


The major archaeological object appearing in this story is the Egyptian Orb of Destiny. This seems to be a fictional construct for the story and not a real world artifact.


On page 2, Professor Winter and Ardeth Bay are said to be working at an excavation outside of Soknopaios, Egypt. Soknopaios is an ancient temple site located southwest of Cairo.


It's never explained why Ardeth Bay, whose duties as a Medjai would normally seem to preclude this, should be assisting Professor Winter with his excavation.


On page 3, an engraving of a curved-horned ram's head on the wall suggests to Professor Winter that he and his team are in a temple devoted to Amon-Ra. Amon-Ra was considered to be the self-created first god of the Egyptian pantheon and was the sun god. He was, indeed, associated with the wooly ram with curved horns.


Also on page 3, one of Winter's workers is named Buto. This may be a reference to the ancient Egyptian city which was conquered by the historical King Scorpion I. In The Scorpion King study, I speculated that the villain, Memnon, may have been King Scorpion I, with Mathayus becoming King Scorpion II with the villain's defeat.


Pages 5-7 feature Rick's dream premonition of their future encounter with the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns.


The clothes worn by Evie in this story do not seem like real world 1920s fashions. As was typical of publications from Chaos! Comics (which folded in 2002), the heroine is drawn more for her sex appeal than realism.


Page 10 reveals that Evie went to school at Oxford. This is a reference to Oxford University, the third oldest surviving university in the world, located in Oxford, England.


On page 12, Professor Winter remarks that he is relieved to find that Evie did not wind up as a meek librarian. Unknown to him, but known to us, she was essentially just that before becoming involved with Rick in The Mummy.


On page 21, Evie deciphers the stone tablet in the temple as depicting the locations of both the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Gods. The Valley of the Kings is a real world archaeological site where the Pharaohs of the Egyptian New Kingdom (16-11th Centuries BC) were entombed. The Valley of the Gods is a fictional site invented for this story. 


It may be that the animal totems that attack the explorers in the temple on pages 4 and 16-21 are representations of the ancient Egyptian pantheon. Page 4 appears to depict the misty form of an Ibis, one of the sacred animals associated with the god Thoth. On pages 16-21 are depicted a bull, a crocodile, a ram, and a falcon, the sacred animals of Ptah, Sobek, Amon-Ra, and Horus.


The illustration of the map on the tablet in panel 3 of page 21 is a semi-accurate depiction of the area near the Valley of the Kings. The "fork" in the Nile River seen in the illustration is presumably the island near the city of Khuzam. If the two pyramids on the map are meant to signify the two valleys, the Valley of the Kings is depicted as too close to the island; it should be about 38 km southeast of there. (Of course, since the stone tablet was made over 2000 years earlier, maybe there was an island in the Nile at that location at that time.)


Unanswered Questions


How do our heroes survive the giant sand warriors? Do they uncover the lost Valley of the Gods? Since the second and third issues were never published, we'll never know.


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