Monday, October 7, 2019

Girl Factory #3 The Man Made Woman by Robert Franklin Murphy

So I have previously reviewed Book ! and Book 2 in this series.

Back when I was researching book series for Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction (avaialbel from Amazon as hard copy and e-book)  a decade ago, part of my goal to to provide complete series lists for Serial Vigilante series.  Finding these lists not as easy as you would think.  The books would sometimes have ads  and series lists in either the front or the back of the books but they weren't complete.  Making things ever more difficult is that different editons ( such as the United Kingdom) may changed the series order or give the book  a new title .

There are very few reference books to help and the internet wasn't always as helpful.  One of the reference books that was invaluable to me was John E Simkin's The Whole Story:  3000 years of Sequels and Sequences.  But it wasn't perfect.  It listed The Girl Factory series as 2 books 1 The Girl Factory (The Man Made Woman) and 2 King's Mate.

I had the British edition of book 1 The Girl Factory and presumed that the American editorn was called The Man-Made Woman.  All good.  I also had the UK edition for King's Mate.I couldn't find anything to contradict that on line or anywhere else.  So I figured I had the complete series.

In 2014., I post the review for The Girl Factory, I get a comment from Tom Johnson asking about The Man Made Woman.

I decide to double check, as I joke if it's not on the internet come back in six months,  and I find the entry for Su-Lin Kelly on the Spy Guys and Glas website and The Man Made Woman is the third book in the series.  So off I go questing to find the thrd book.  Finally I find a copy for sale this year and it is reasonably priced.

I admit I had a couple of reservations about this book.  The first book revealed that Su-Lin was a clone.  The second has Su-Lin die and be cloned again.  my worry was that the cloning would be a major part of the series.

The cover did not ecourge me:


With Six different Su-Lin Kellys on the cover 

 The back cover blurb seemed to indicate that this was the case

Hands Off!  What do you do if you're a man an women just won't stop chasing you? If they just can't keep their hands off you? Give in? Or try to kill them off, one by one , after savouring each first?  DO you plunge your knife in, shoot your gun, prick tehm with a poison tip, or blow them up? And what do you do when you end up with as many as you started with? Do you accept it and say you're irresistable, they keep coming back for more? Or do you admit you have problem - one so big no single man or government can get a hold on it? What do you do when you are dealing science's greatest creation since man .. the clone, the bionic - the man- made woman."

Umm, I'm not sure what book the copy writer read becasue that is nothing like the actual book.  I have to admit that I am intrigued by that book.  (just for the record Su-Lin is not bionic)

No this book has a villian with trained sex snakes who act as his bodyguard. I repeat SEX SNAKES.

The story revolves around teh Chinese annexation of Tibet, where the Shan-Tal closter is located.  The Chinese are finding that parts of Tbet are not as easy to take over as they thought.  The villiage of Lhatse has the Dham D'hab Lama and is a hold out against Chinese rule.  Lhatse is close to the Shan Tal Cloister and allows the clositer to remain independant.

Wu Cho acting on behalf of the Chinese government is trying to kidnap or kill the Dham D'hab.  Wu Cho has the bodyguard sex snakes,  He is assisted by a beautiful woman.

American intellegence, in a leap of deduction, figure that Su-Lin Kelly is a beautiful woman who comes from Tibet so she must be helping Wu Cho even though she has worked for America in the past.  The secret intellenge agency The Nest, who have wored with Su Lin in the past try to presuade them otherwise.

The story then has Su-Lin and her team working to save the Dham D'hab and discover that Cho's female assistant is Le Kahn.   Le Kahn grew up with Su Lin in the Shan Tal Cloister.  And we discover that Le  Kahn is the clone of Su-Lin's sister, who died in the womb when the original Su-Lin and her family were all murdered at the hands of bandits.

I really enjoyed this book - Wu Cho is an interesting villian helping the Chinese for vast sums of money.  Le Kahn makes for a  good match for Su-Lin as the two women know each other so well.

I'm glad that there was another Girl Factory book to read.



Sunday, July 7, 2019

Prodigy (2019) written by Mark Millar art by Rafaael Albuquerque



Mark Millar is a prolific writer, he's written for Marvel and DC before he branched off to his own creator owned studio, Millarworld. 

He created Wanted, that was basis for the Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy movie (okay very thin basis), Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, and Kingsman (or as the comic was known The Secret Service).

I liked those properties both as movies and comics so I keep an eye on Millar stuff - I collected CLINT magazine which printed Kick- Ass 2 and Hit-Girl miniseries as well as The Secret Service and Supercrooks.

As a general rule, I prefer low to no powers in my comic stories (I'm a pulpy guy),  so some of his Millarworld stuff I can take or leave.  

Then I saw a review of issue 1 of Prodigy, the second series from Millarworld after it was bought by Netflix.  The reviewer said that this was Millar riffing on Buckaroo Banzai.  

Millar does Buckaroo Banzai - I'm down for that story.

I read each issue as it came out and finished this the first arc just last week..  I then went back and reread the whole series.  

This series was a blast and a half - Edison Crane the Prodigy of the title is worthy to stand alongside Buckaroo Banzai, Doc Savage, The Destroyer, The Pretender, Sherlock Holmes,  Dillon and the Nekton Family from The Deep.

If you know me at all that's pretty high praise.

Ethan is a genius with a total recall, he owns a business and serves an unofficial troubleshooter. Like Banzai , he's off in a million directions at once - playing 18 simultanious games of chess, writing compositions, planning stunts, written three plays, created a new telecommunication system and a new cling wrap that keeps things fresh for a century. All before breakfast.

He's bored and decides to investigate unusual events in Australia. While there he;s approached by a CIA agent who explains that these events are part of a larger conspiracy.  Crane goes full Sherlock Holmes on her.  making deductions left,  right and centre.

Before you know it Crane and CIA agent Rachel Straks are globehopping looking for an ancient text that might be the key to it all.  

The fitth issues ends with a twist that plays out nicely in the final installment.  I did not see it coming but I feel that Millar didn't play fair with the reader, Crane saw the twist coming because he had knowledge that we, the reader, weren't privvy to.  

But damn if I didn't care because it was worth it see Crane bring down the bad guys.  because he is a dozen steps ahead of our villains - it was almost a reverse Watchmen.  Crane discovers the plot and goes yeah I figured it out thrity five minutes ago and made adjustments to foil your plot.  Oh and here's your handcuffs back.

I can't say more without spoiling it.

Give Prodigy a try if you like Doc Savage or Buckaroo Banzai and I look forward to the inevitable Netflix adaptation.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Australis Incognito: Behind the curtain.

So as promised here's a peak behind the curtain for the story behind the story of Australis Incognito.







Now I'd love to say the whole thing came to me in a one big hit but that's not true.  Some of the ideas had been floating around in my head for some time.  The Rusting Death had been a title that been waiting since the mid 90s when I mistyped the Doc Savage novel The Rustling Death for my book list.



But the story really started on Watchmen's 25th anniversary in around 2011.  Like many fans I wondered how things would have went after the events of Moore and Gibbons' story.  It's a world now without a superman just people in costumes.  Was there a third wave/generation of heroes, did the peace last?  What might a third wave look like?


I let myself imagine.  Silk Spectre II and Nite-Owl II would have kids The Nite Spectre, Silk and Nite-Owl III.  There would be a Rorschach II, the daughter of the original's landlady who believes that Walter Kovacs is her father.  There would be original characters like the Cutlass.

I never wrote anything down and at some point reality set in assuming that DC was going to do anything they wouldn't be hiring me anytime soon (and shorly after we got the Before Watchmen collection of miniseries)

As any Watchmen fan worth their salt knows the story was written with the Charlton characters.  DC looked at the story and realised that it would render their newly acquired characters unusable.  Moore then created new characters who if you squint looked a little like the Charlton Characters,



So I squinted - The third generation Watchmen siblings became The Dingo, Risque and Risk.  Rorschach II became The Question Mark II.  I left the Cutlass alone.  I dropped several characters and created new ones.

One of my new characters was the Aggressor, a veteran of Afghanistan or Iraq and fighting a bloody crusade against organised crime.  Then I found the Cutter series by James Hopwood - and also published by Pro Se Press.  Hopwood did what I was planning and in all honesty did it better.  So I changed tack The Agressor was active in the 1980s and was involved in The Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in the Queensland Government and police force, which worked much better for me.  So James if you read this - Thank you.



Around the same time, I was looking at myself as an Australian new Pulp writer and what I wanted to write.   I discovered a history of Australians creating pulp and pulp adjacent characters and I met several other creators who were crafting new stories in the same vein.

I wanted to write a big Australian pulp story. I had the basis for my story.  I pitched the idea to Pro Se as Oz Pulp.

The good news they liked the idea, the bad - they were not so keen on Oz Pulp.  I wasn't keen on their suggested replacement Aus Pulp.

I sat brainstorming when  I remembered that on old maps Australia was called Terra Australis Incognita - and Australis Incognito was born.  (Several Australian horror anthologies have used Terror Australis)

Australis Incognito became more than the title of the story but the collective name of my heroes and would go back to the settlement of New South Wales in 1788 allowing me to weave a backstory that allowed me to reference several characters I had read about.  It also gave me a reason that these characters all knew each other.

I had the idea for a villian so big that these characters couldn't battle them alone.  I distinctly recall the idea that one of the heroes was suggesting the unknown villian was a Moriarty-type.  The mysterious villian lurking over the skyline of Brisbane on the cover.



Around this time I had been invited to contribute to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Was Not (IFWG, 2019) an anthology that paired Sherlock Holmes with a different doctor instead of Watson.  I selected Dr Nikola, the villian of five novels by Australian writer Guy Boothby that were just as popular as the Sherlock Holmes stories back in the 1890s.  Nikola became a large piece of the this new story and his actions in the past served as a catalyst for this modern day adventure.



I had a great time building a world where modern pulp heroes could operate and link in with other Australian pulp and pulp-adjacant characters.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

AUSTRALIS INCOGNITO now available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUPER HEROES FLY FROM DOWN UNDER-BRAD MENGEL’S ‘AUSTRALIS INCOGNITO’ DEBUTS
The Land Down Under, a land of crime and adventure.  For over two hundred years, Australia has been guarded by the masked men and mystery women of Australis Incognito.
The Dingo, Risqué, Risk, The Knight Errant, The Cutlass, The Question Mark and the Sai are the latest generation of crime fighters.
Now they are faced with an ancient evil, a mastermind committing impossible crimes.  A mystery villain who threatens to expose their greatest secrets and those of their predecessors. Australia’s heroes…and the world itself may not survive in Author Brad Mengel’s debut novel-AUSTRALIS INCOGNITO, now available from Pro Se Productions.
Featuring a haunting cover and logo design by Jeffrey Hayes and print formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, AUSTRALIS INCOGNITO is available in print at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1074217349/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=australis+incognito&qid=1560997291&s=gateway&sr=8-3 for $9.99.
Mengel’s debut novel is also available as an eBook formatted by Lo Iacono and Marina for the Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Australis-Incognito-Brad-Mengel-ebook/dp/B07T3WD99Y/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=australis+incognito&qid=1560997378&s=gateway&sr=8-1 for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.
For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.
To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.



This has been a long time coming and I'm so pleased to see it finally come to life.  Massive shout out to the team at Pro Se and to Jeffrey Hayes for the awesome cover that exceeded my wildest dreams.

To my Australian mates,  ebook only on Amazon Australia.  Brisbane folks can order a hard copy at Pulp Fiction Book shop.  http://www.pulpfiction.com.au/

I'll post soon about the background for the story and how it came to be in a separate post.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls (2018)



So 2016 saw the announcement that Universal was trying again to build a bit of a cinematic universe (look guys you did it in the 40's - just build on that don't reinvent the wheel) called Dark Universe.  First cab of the rank - The Mummy (2017) which effectively canceled the existing Mummy/Scorpion King Franchise and killing a fourth movie with an Aztec Mummy (reportedly played by Antonio Banderis).

Imagine my utter surprise that 2018 had a new direct to DVD Scorpion King movie.  New actor Zach McGowan as The Scorpion King - the fourth in the franchise.

Zach came to Brisbane Supanove in November 2018, when was the movie release? December 2018.  So I couldn't have a copy for him to sign.  What marketing genius thought that was a good idea?

So I finally get the movie.  Matthius is working as a blacksmith in a small village having lost his kingdom and love interest again.  What's that like three now?
(from 1, 3, and 4 although 4 isn't as certain as the other two)  Maybe that's what causes his Mummy Returns heel turn - I'm sick of losing kingdoms)

And that's something that hangs over these movies - is this the one where he snaps?Where we see the start of his descent into villainy?  Because in all five Scorpion King movies, Matthius is pretty heroic.

The movie opens with the creation of The Fang of Anubis, a sword that steals the souls of all it kills.  A warlord Nebserek steals it and lays waste to  country.  He is obessessed with finding the Scorpion King.

The villains make the classic villain mistake - the hero is cheerfully minding his business - he might be on holiday.  The baddies hear he is nearby clearly the hero must be in town to investigate their evil plot, there is no other possibility.  We must attack first.  Our hero who would have cheerfully spent two weeks fishing and gone home is now aware of villainy in the area and he is rather pissed off that his holiday is ruined, someone tried to kill him, possibly that there is someone else died in the attempt. (my favourite version of this is Batman Forever)  Look Mathius would have been happy chilling in his smithy but you had to attack him and kill his friends.

He is left for dead and is rescued by Tala, the daughter of Balathazar (Michael Clarke Duncan) from the first movie and they quest to find the one artefact the Book of Souls that will destroy the Fang and release the souls.

It's an enjoyable movie, McGowan is good in the fights, the villain is suitably threatening making for a good final boss fight.  There's a nice twist on the nature of the book of souls.  There are some interesting new characters including a golem who is scared of fire.  (I kept thinking they were calling him gollum)

With or without McGowan, I'd be down for more Scorpion King movies.  (also I'd down for a definitive timeline )  

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)

Victor Webster returns in this the next Scorpion King movie.  There is an another reference to The Scorpion King being a campfire story, a legend.

The movie opens and Mathius is a mercenary again, there's no reference to the events of the last movie but there is a reference to the first movie.

This movie could take place before three or after (I have to admit that there's part of  me that enjoys the idea that the chronology goes 2,1,4,3) 

I do kinda like the idea that we are getting legends of The Scorpion King each one is a standalone story with the Queens he has met and wooed.  Each adventure begins as a blank slate and Mathius is alone fighting as a mercenary, fighting for  a kingdom and winning over a queen only to start over in the next movie.  Chronology doesn't rellay matter.  Heck if he is immortal (as hinted in 2) then it may be a longer period between movie and he queen has died of old age.

Mathius has been training an apprentice Drazen who in a scene that gives a nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark betrays Mathius. and the ending references Last Crusade
Given Indy's influence on the Mummy movies that should come as no surprize.

There's a big speil that magic isn't real it's all just science except that there is true magic in the finale (and magic is real in the other movies in both this series and The Mummy movies)

It's an enjoyable movie with The Scorpion King fighting his old protege who has framed him for the kiiling of the king and the hunt for a legendary King's crown.
It's a fun romp that's enjoyable as long as you don't take it too serious.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Scorpion King 3:The Battle for Redemption






It's 2012 and we have another Scorpion King movie and we are now on a third actor playing the Scorpion King - Victor Webster.

Webster most natby had been in Mutant X and Continium He's fine in the role not as muscular as The Rock but he can hadle himself in the fights.

This movie is a sequel to the First movie (so for those following on the chronology goes Scorpion King 2, The Scorpion King, The Scorpion King 3, The Mummy Returns prologue.)

The kingdom Mathius gained in the first movie has falled and Casandra has died,  we see Cassandra as Matthius remembers his wife and it's shots of Kelly Hu from the first movie.

Matthius has returned to being a mercenary and is hired by King Horus (Ron Pearlman).  Horus is facing rebellion from his brother Talus (Billy Zane).  Horus has sent the Book of The Dead to his ally King Ramusen (Temeura Morrison) and Talus is attacking Ramusen to get the book.

Matthius is sent with a Teutonic warrior Olaf,  the pair make a good team. 

There's a good plot were we discover that the book can release Warriors and they challenge Mathius and Olaf in a battle.

There is a suggestion that The Scorpion King is a legend.

The movie is enjoyable and ends with Mathius getting a new wife and kingdom.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Mummy Chronicles 4:Flight of the Phoenix by David Wolverton

The fourth and final book in the Mummy Chronicles YA series.  Alex O'Connell is again at the centre of this book and Ardeth Bay has taken him for some more Medjai training.

It turns out that a Phoenix egg as alledgedly turned up and the Medjai decide to send out three recruits to investigate.  (great plan guys)

And Alex discovers that his friends Rachel and Matt have followed him.

So Alex has to protect his friends without telling them exactly what is going on while competing against one of the other Medjai recruits.

To make matters worse, as they catch up with the traders who have the egg, they are attacked by slavers and robbers who steal the egg and capture Rachel.

The assault on the brigand's hideout is quite interesting.

Now that I've finished these books, the animated series, the movies, the novelisations, and  the comics. (OK I have three Scorpion King movies left)  The Mummy series as a whole is enjoyable. 

In many ways The Mummy Chronicles and the Animated Series  cover a lot of the same ground.  Both focus on Alex, and his Medjai training  both take the series in exploring other supernatural beings outside of Mummies (something the Scorpion King does too). 

Surprisingly, they work chronologically,  the first Chronicles book is set in 1937 and according to the Mummy Annual the Animated series is set in 1938.

I wish Wolverton did more books and let the O'Connell family work together more.  I like Rick and Evie (and Jonathon) .  Those are the characters we met in the first Mummy,  I get it Alex is the stand in for the audience in these younger skewing formats but those original characters are who we fell in love with.

(I wish they made the fourth movie with an Aztec Mummy, that got bumped in favour of the Dark Universe.)

   

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior dir Russell Mulcahy starring Randy Couture and Michael Capon

Funny story,  when I first saw the poster and promotional material I assumed that Randy Couture had taken over the role of Mathayus from The Rock.

Seemed reasonsable except that Michael Capon, the blue Time Force Power Ranger was Mathayus and Couture was the villian of the story - Sargon of Akkad.

It's a nice little adventure with Mathayus as a boy, against his father's wishes trying out to become a Black Scorpion, the elite Akkadian mercenary force. His father is killed through dark magic.  He goes off trains for six years and returns to discover that the man who killed his father has upsurped the throne.

There's a nice touch once he discovers Sargon is a magic user where he is off to Egypt to seek the Osiris Staff (from The Mummy Returns)  but he his advised against that and seels the Sword of Domocles.

Firstly do not use these films as any sort of historical reference.  The first film says before the pyramids, this film a prequel has a character saying they were going to Egypt to see the pyramids.

The CGI is not good Sargon becomes a giant scorpion who is mostly invisible which hides many sins but not all of them and at one point Mathayus and his party encounter a minotaur.  I think he looks like the one seen in The Animated series, but we never get a good look at the beast.

This was made in 2008 as a DVD tie in for Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.  It must have done alright as they made another three after this (and could be planning more for all I know).

Capon's Mathayus is fine, he's younger and I could see how he became the man from the first film.  His female companion Layla is okay and the Greek poet Ari is quite entertaining.  The trio put me in mind of Rick, Evy and Jonathon from the Mummy movies.

I enjoyed this movie,  it's not the greatest film ever but it wasn't trying for that.  It's a simple revenge story with the first big adventure of the man who would become the Scorpion King.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Scorpion King (2002) Dwayne' The Rock" Johnson






While The Mummy Returns was The Rock's movie debut, it was little more than a gloriied cameo and half of that was CGI. The Scorpion King was his debut as a leading man.

Seventeen years later and Dwayne Johnson is one of the busiest people in Hollywood but it wasn't a sure thing.

Watching The Scorpion King so soon after the Mummy Returns, there's big disconnect between the noble and heroic Matthyias seen in this movie and the villianous Scorpion King in the Mummy Returns granted there was some time between the two stories but as we get more sequels with a heroic Scorpion King the harder it is see Matthyias' heel turn  (The Scorping King 2 was a prequel to this movie but 3 - 5 are set after this movie)

I do wonder if the Scorpion King was never meant to be connected to the Mummy and the sudden success of The Mummy meant that they used ideas from The Scorpion King in the Mummy Returns.

There is an entry on TVtropes that Sommers considers the Mummy Returns Scorpion King to be the lookalike grandson of this Scorpion King.  Ican't find the actual source for that but It's an interesting way to look at two franschises.

The movie itself is quite enjoyable Sword and Scorcery film in the vein of Conan or Hercules.  (which reminds me I want to see the Hercules Movie that Dwayn Johnson made a couple of years back)

Kelly Hu as the sorceress Cassandra is quite good in her role and is quite able to handle her own in some of the fight scenes.  The Rock is charismatic and really good - it's hard to beleive that his is his second movie and first leading role, he hold his own with Michael Clarke Duncan's Balthazar.

Hey i wouldn't complain if every few years another DVD exclusive in this series was come out.
 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Mummy Chronicles 3: The Curse of the Nile by Dave Wolverton

 This is the third book of this young adult series.

Alex and his parents are investigating an artefact that might lead to a lost and long destroyed Temple of Osiris, in a prologue we see the temple was destroyed after a djinn invaded the temple and hid itself in a powerful amulet.  The amulet is hidden in a river temple.

Wouldn't you know it but guess who falls overboard and finds the amulet? Alex.

The Djinn is a nice change of pace and one that has not  appeared before. As per the typical legends three wishes will free the Djinn and he will be able to enslave the world.

There were somethings that bothered me about this story.  One Alex doesn't tell his parents or Ardeth Bay what is happening instead trusting Rachel and Matt hos friends from the last book.  We get a bit where the Djin tells Alex not to trust Ardeth or his parents but really all three have the knowledge and experience in these matters.  I get this a YA book but this seemed like the sitaution for the adults.

Another thing that annoyed me  was the constant reference to Alex's mother and Alex's father rather than Rick or Evie .

Ungricht the evil German archeologist from the first two book is back but is turned into a giant toad permanently.

Hopefully the fourth and final book will turn up soon, I'm looking forward  to see what it brings.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Mummy Chronicles 2:Heart of the Pharaoh by Dave Wolverton



The second of the Mummy Chronicle books did not disappoint.  The year is 1937 and the O'Connell family are back in England.  The family gets a visit from Winston Churchill who wants Evy to investigate rumours that Italian Fascitsts have discovered Cleopatra's tomb and all her wealth. 

Churchill has brought a mummy with him.  Alex reveals that she wsa a young girl named Irani and her shadow accompanies them.


The family are off to Egypt and Alex reunites with his friend Rachel from the first book and she has been working as a spy against the Italians.  Rick and Evy head to the suspected tombsite leaving Alex, Rachel and Matt, the son of the British Ambassador.  Rachel discovers that the Italians have brought in more troops  after the parents have left.

Alex and his friends "borrow' Izzy's airship (last seen in The Mummy Returns) and race to warn their parents.

The archeologist Ungricht from the first book returns and the parties play hide seek through the tomb.

It was nice to see a Mummy adventure where the O'Connells don't have to battle a mummy, in this one the Mummies help them and Alex is able to help Cleopatra and her mummified retinue head to the afterlfe.

Really looking forward to the next couple of books.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Mummy Chronicles #1: Revenge of the Scorpion King by Dave Wolverton 



The first of four YA novels starring Alex O’Connell as he learns to be a Madji. Alex is now 12 and the year is 1937.

Alex is on his first solo mission as part of his training with Ardeth Bay. Making for an interesting change Imhotep does not appear. Nope The Scorpion King is back.

It seems that the Nazi’s have heard the legends of the Army of Anubis, and the jackal headed god has decided that The Scorpion King should be the point man. (I wonder if they heard about that during a certain dig in 1936 in Egypt)

It’s a young adult spinoff of the Mummy series so Alex operates on his own for the most part without his parents, he does meet Rachael Stroeker, a Jewish German girl about his age, who is sabotaging the Nazis. Alex and Rachael battle the Nazis and various mummies to prevent the alliance happening. It clocks in at 130 pages and is a quick and easy read. I enjoyed the book and look forward to the other three books in the series

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)




So this bring us to the end of the Mummy movies in this franchise.

There is an appearance of the Book the Dead in the 2017 Dark Universe The Mummy but that's all folks. The Dark Universe seemingly killed off an new movie in the Mummy part of this franchise.  But with the less than stellar results of that movie and the new Scorpion King movie last year.  Let's not say never.

(I recall a rumour that Fraser said he was playing a descendant of Rick O'Connell in his GI Joe cameo but I can't find that reference now.)

I still have the Mummy Chronicles books to go but I'm still awaiting them to arrive and I'll review them as they come in.

So the third movie in the series has a lot in common with the fourth Indiana Jones film which came out the same year.  Both take the series in a new direction, both are set after WWII and hint that the main characters have had an extensive career in espionage during the war.  Of the two I think I like the Mummy more.

Set in 1947,  Rick and Evie (now played by Maria Bello) have retired after World War Two and are bored out of their minds.  So they leap at the chance for one last job delivering an artefact to China, Jonathan has a night club in Shanghai.

Wouldn't you know it but Alex (Luke Ford) has dropped out of college and has discovered the Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Due to magic, the Emperor and his army have been turned into terracotta soldiers and they are awakened.

It's another fun romp of a movie,  Bello is fine as Evie,  I like Luke Ford as Alex,  there is a tension between him and Rick that plays out in this film (and sperates it from Indy which has a similar plot with Indy and his son Mutt).  Alex is so similar to his father and he chafes being in his father's shadow (and to a degree his mother).

This movie opens up the scope of the franchise, even setting up the sequel.  Taking the movie to China with another all powerful undead villain (something the Animated series did to a degree while still relying on Im Ho Tep to an extent.  The movie travels to Shangri La and the O'Connells encounter Yeti and fight a dragon.

The Dragon Emperor shows us that the O'Connells don't need Im Ho Tep to battle.

The end of the movie has Jonathon getting out of Shaghai and moving to somewhere they've never heard of Mummies, Peru.  (i have a vivid memory of text appeading that Mummies were found in Peru in liek 1952 - but that didn't appear)

If you like the first two check out this one.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Mummy The animated series Season 2





For the second season the animated series was subtitled The Secrets of the Medjai as the end of the last season Ardeth Bey promises to train Alex as a Medjai.

But for the most part they didn't need to subtitle the series as it mostly follows the same formula as season 1, we just a few episode with Alex working with the Medaji trainees.

(For the record Alex's training is also part of The Mummy Chronicles series)

We learn that Rick's father Jack was a Medjai,  which explains the revelation in The Mummy Returns that Rick is a Medjai except we seem to have forgotten that fact.  A couple of the other Medjai trainees tease Alex that he doesn't have Medjai blood.

We also seem to have forgotten that Evie was the reincarnation of Nefertiti as that becomes a point in the two part pilot.

And revisted later in a time travel episode where Alem travels back in time and meets the Princess who looks exactly like his mother with a different hair style.

Alex learns some new skills with the manacle and has a brief flirtation with his dark side thanks to some magic, it's subplot that perhaps could have been played a little more long game.  I nearly suspected that the episodes were shown out of order except for the fact that the enhanced leaping ability he learns in that episode being used in the later episodes.  However Alex is a moody teenager (something that carries over to Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.)

The series ends with the short term defeat of Im Ho Tep and the revelation that Alex is the Supreme Medjai and has special powers.

It makes sense that this is an escalation of the series but it takes away from the man vs supernatural aspect that made the movies so enjoyable.



Overall the series was fun version of the Mummy.




I'm going to mention the Mummy Annual here.  I ordered the annual had planned on a full entry.

Back in the eighties if I got a UK Annual, it had games, and fun facts and all new stories and comics featuring the characters, I presumed that this annual would be the same.     There were Mummy fun facts (actually a game Jonathan is giving us the facts and some are wrong and you have to identify what facts are wrong) The stories were however just retellings of the episodes with images from the episode.

The annual also retells the events of the Mummy and The Mummy Returns pointing out that the latter movie was set in 1935 not 1933 as in the film.  (The reason is that Alex is eight in The Mummy Returns and 1933 is only six years after 1927 and there's no way he could be eight.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Mummy the Animated series season 1 (2001)


After the Mummy Returns hit cinemas the next Mummy adventures came on the small screen.

The Animated series plays out as a stripped down version of the Mummy Returns.  The O'Connells find the Manacle of Osirus and young Alex puts in on his wrist.  Lots of running around the world trying to get it off of him.

Imhotep no longer was trying to ressurect his girlfriend, he was trying to steal the manacle.  Rick no longer uses guns, instead like another adventuring hero uses a whip.  But this is a kids cartoon and I'm willing to over look these changes.
 

Alex is now about 10 or so here so we are a couple of years after the Mummy Returns and you'd think Alex would know better.

There's no real mention of the earlier films.  The pilot "The Summoning" mentions that Evie discovered the Book of the Dead and donated it to the British Museum of Antiquities. But no real mentions of previous battles with Imhotep.

Evie is hired as Chief Archeologist of the Bristish Museum of Antiquities and given a Zepplin to fly around the world.  Her first job is the dig at Haminuptra, the city of the dead.

 However when Evie got the job, she got it over Colin Weasler who felt the job should have been his.  Weasler steals the book of the dead, sneaks to Haminuptra and ressurects Imhotep.  Silly man thinks he can control the mummy.

Weasler is a lot like Beni from the first movie.

The series is set all over the world as the family follow the path of the Scroll of Thebes and they encounter a variety of other supernatural creatures such as dragons, sand worms, werewolves, sea monsters, lave monsters, elemental creatures and griffons.

Some historical figures appear in the series as we discover that Rick used to play baseball with Babe Ruth and Evie studied mathmatics with Albert Einstein.



Each episode is about twenty minutes long and are enjoyable enough.  They are non essential but they do scratch the mummy itch if you want a little bit more.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Mummy Returns 2001 – Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weise, Arnold Vosloo and The Rock.





 The first Mummy was a success and a sequel was greenlit fairly quickly. I suspect the first movie was created as a stand alone and we see some retconning happening here.

Opps Evie isn’t the reincarnation of Anck Su Namun but of Pharaoh’s daughter Nefertiti and oh yeah Rick well he was always a Madji. Imhotep who we killed and defeated at the end of the last movie? Yeah he got resurrected returning for this adventure.

Evie and Rick are now married with an eight year old son Alex (but the movie is set in 1933 at most he should be six) but still adventuring. Alex is ok but he become the focus of the movie when he puts the bracelet of the Scorpion King on his wrist.

In a prologue we discover that the Scorpion King (played by the Rock) made a deal with Anubis for power to defeat all his enemies and he’s now the commander of Anubis’ army. He can be summoned with the bracelet and if you defeat the Scorpion King then you take command of Anubis’ army who threaten to take over the world.

There’s some nice meta gags as Rick guesses the story of the Scorpion King because it’s always that way. There are some fun Mummy battles bigger than the first movie a nice Mummy chase through London in a double decker bus.

Alex (Freddie Boath – who also had a role in the TV series House of Anubis) is kidnapped by the villains resurrecting Imhotep so he can kill the Scorpion King and let them control the army of Anubis. I actually liked how he played off his uncle Jonathan and later with Lock-Nah.

There are some twists and turns  as Rick and Evie race around the world to rescue their son, some really good fights between Evie and the reincarnation of Anck Su Namun. The reappearance of the Scorpion King is marred by some really bad CGI but a good follow up to the first movie.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Mummy 1999 – starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weise and Arnold Vosloo written and directed Stephen Summers 






I think I’d have to rate this as one of my favourite films, for the longest time this was the go to movie when there was nothing else to watch for my wife and I. Watching this again today, I was reminded why I love it. It’s a pure pulp inspired adventure romp – and is arguably the best of the “Children” of Indiana Jones.

The movie opens in Ancient Egypt and we are told of the forbidden love of Imhotep and Anck Su Namun and how they killed her husband Emperor Seti I. Anck Su Namun kills herself and Imhotep is caught trying to bring her back. His punishment eternal life so scarabs can eat him for all eternity with a host of powers and should he ever get free he will be super powerful and try to take over the world. No I can’t see a flaw in that plan either.

Next we flash to 1923 and a troop of Foreign Legionnaires are fighting some Arabic gents in some ruins. Here we meet Rick O’Connell. He’s the man who take command when his commander runs off, there were a LOT of Arabic gentlemen. Watching are the Madji – descendants of the Pharaoh’s guard determined to stop Imhotep being released on the world. We’re not told who or what or why they were fighting except when the Arabs see the statue of Anubis in the city, they run far away very fast.

The movie then jumps forward to three years later and we meet Evie and Jonathon Carnahan, the serious scholar and the charming scallywag respectively. Jonathon has ... liberated an artefact and that sets off the whole shebang. With our heroes and villains introduced the movie takes off. The Mummy is revived, thinks Evie is his former love Anck Su Namun our heroes race to save her and there’s a big fight. It’s a good solid adventure with rival archaeologists ending up as Mummy fodder their essence powering him up. The whole thing is just slam bang fun. I especially love the character Winston, the British pilot who survived World War I. Twenty years later and the special effects while not perfect still hold up pretty well. If you haven’t seen the Mummy, go check it out.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

This is the End: The Mummy/Scorpion King


I've been on a bit of a 1990s Mummy kick lately.  Brendan Fraser's The Mummy (1999) was a remaginging of the 1930s Universal movie of the same name bringing back the mummified Im Ho Tep. 

The later Universal films all featured a mummy named Kharis, except for Abbot and Costello meet the Mummy which featured Klaris.  Hammer films also made several mummy movies but none of theirs featured Im Ho Tep and none connected to each other. 

The 1999 movie shfted away from horror and became a slightly more supernatural version of Indiana Jones.  There's a joke that the three best Indy fims are Radiers of the Lost Ark, The Mummy, and the Mummy Returns.

It might appear that the 2017 Dark Universe The Mummy starring Tome Cruise put an end to the franchise but 2018 brought a new entry that sparked me off on this search.  The Scorpion King 5: The Book of Souls.

So what do we have in this franchise?

Movies

The Mummy 1999
The Mummy Returns 2001
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer  2008

with the spin-off




The Scorpion King (2002)

Which is all the theatrical movies.  However Universal made

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)
The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)
The Scorpion King: Book of Souls (2018)

None of which starred the Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson.  2 was a prequel  starring
Michael Copon, the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers: Time Force.

3 and 4 starred Victor Webster (Mutant X, Continuium)  5 starred Zach McGowan (Black Sails).

I've loved all the movies - the Scorpion King series have been fun sword and sandal romps.

There was also a two season animated series set after The Mummy Returns



Then I discovered the books;

All four theatrical movies were novelised by Max Allan Collins.

Dave Wolverton wrote a four book YA series The Mummy Chronicles which featured Alex learning to be a Magi.

There was also a tie-in Annual for the Mummy TV series.

1) Revenge in the Scorpion King
2) Heart of the Pharoh
3) The Curse of the Nile
4) Flight of the Phoenix

Then there were three different comic series

Only one of the three proposed issues of Chaos! Comics The Mummy: Valley of the Gods was released and was set during the O'Connell's honeymoon with prophetic dreams of the Scorpion King.  Chaos went out of business before the rest of the series could be released.

Next was Dark Horse's 2 issue The Scorpion King: The Akkadian Prophecy" set just before the Rock's movie (and before Rise of a Warrior)

Just before the third movie IDW released the four issue miniseries The Mummy: The Rise of Xango's Ax  set just before that movie.

The whole Scorpion King/Mummy franchise is a lot of fun to read/watch and I do hope that we will see more from this world.  The third movie set up a sequel with Jonathon moving to Peru just before the discovery of Mummies there.

I'm still waiting on several of the books to arrive but I'll review them when they arrive.  Actually I might do a Mummy March.




Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Aquaman (2018) Jason Momoa, Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson

For New Year's Eve, the family decided to take a trip to the movies to see Aquaman.  What a fun ride of a movie this was.

Jason Momoa is having the time of his life playing Aquaman - intially a surprise casting choise in Batman V Superman and Justice League.  While he may not look exactly like the comic book character, he has the spirit of the character down pat. 

With a touch of the bad-ass "I have a hook for a hand" version of the nineties with a pinch of the blowhard character seen in Batman Brave and The Bold, Momoa nails the character, a child of two worlds, scared of the destiny to unite them both.

There are a couple of intertwining plots - the movie starts with Aquaman foiling a pirate attack on a Russian submarine and a decision he makes causes the creation of one of his arch enemies.

The second plot involves Arthur trying to claim the throne of Atlantis, there are some gorgeous underwater scenes then a quest arounf the world to find the trident of the last great Atleanean king. 

The whole thing ends in a giant underwater battle with sharks with 'friggin' laser beams and giant seahorses and a big ass sea monster.

The search for the trident was a fun Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider/Uncharted style adventure (with a generous side of Disney's Atlantis THe Lost Empire) 

[As an aside - this movie has probably ruined the chances of a live action version of Atlantis: The Lost Empire or  The Deep, - but damn it made me wish for them]

Then the movie did the most awesome thing the quest for the trident ended in the lost sea in the hollow Earth - they went to Skartaris.  And queue the blank looks, for newbies to the worlds of DC Skartaris is the centre of the Hollow Earth created by Mike Grell (also known as the greatest writer on Green Arrow ever)  for the comic book known as Warlord. Skartaris has appeared in a couple of episodes of Jusice League Unlimited.  Could this be a set up for a Warlord movie?  Oh I hope so.

The whole movie was so much fun to watch from start to finish that everyone left with a big grin on our faces.