The Murder of King Tut #1

by Doug Zawisza, Reviewer |

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Mon, June 14th, 2010 at 7:56PM (PDT)


Adapted from James Patterson's novel, "The Murder of King Tut," this comic book adaptation juxtaposes the tales of Howard Carter and the history of the Amenhotep and his heir, Akhenaten, from the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. This issue sets Akhenaten upon the throne and challenges the status quo of Egypt as Akhenaten declares that there is but one god: Aten, the sun god.

This issue doesn't even touch upon Tut, as the story of Carter is set in 1892, years before the discovery of Tut's tomb, and the tale of Akhenaten makes a point to address his complete lack of heir.

Unlike the novel, the comic leaves out the third branch of Patterson's tale, which is Patterson's quest to make this story his next published work. There's nothing lost with that omission, as it leaves more room for the tales of Akhenaten and Carter.

Christopher Mitten delivers a rugged visual tale of the days set in ancient Egypt. Mitten's story of Amenhotep's passing and Ahkenaten's rise carries the same visual weight as Howard Chaykin or Walt Simonson. The three are similar in style, with Mitten bridging the gap between the two elder comic artists, but Mitten's work is far less polished, filled with grittier lines and substantial amounts of atmospheric flecks and brush spatter. These effects play up the roughness of Egypt and had me squirming a little as though I had sand stuck where I don't want it. This is ancient Egypt as it should look in comic book form.

Ron Randall delivers the polar opposite in his story of Howard Carter. More suited to the starched shirts of late nineteenth century England than the offbeat adventures of "Doom Patrol," Randall's story is clean and precise. Carter is Indiana Jones without the adventures -- pure scientific reason and factual discovery.

Irvine does a good job in not making the Howard Carter moments dry and boring, but Irvine throws snippets from a span of five years in Carter's life into six comic book pages. It seems scattered and jumpy, especially compared to the near-linear flow of the Egyptian portion of this comic.

This is a nice companion piece to the novel, or a decent read for fans of Egyptian history. For readers seeking excitement and adventure, however, this book is going to be a major letdown. Given that Tut has yet to appear in a comic bearing his name in the title, it is a safe bet that there is plenty more story to come.