Story: Chris Roberson
Art: Christopher Mitten
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letterer: Clem Robbins
What They Say:
Thousands of years before Hellboy, the B.P.R.D., and Ragna Rok, there was Panya. As a girl in ancient Egypt, she witnessed the fall of a dynasty and was gifted–or cursed–with visions of the beginning, the end, and the coming of the dragon…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The world that Mike Mignola has worked for the past few decades has led to a lot of great storytelling and creators working within it. It’s been enjoyable reconnecting with it in the last few years and this new series brings us more with Chris Roberson again handling the writing duties here. Roberson gets to play in a familiar world but shape it in a way that works for this particular universe and that’s got a lot of appeal, especially since it is a much smaller world overall. Christopher Mitten is on board for the artwork and they capture the look and feel of this period really well, especially with some of the openness that we get in this first issue. I really like the character designs and Madsen’s color work on it helps to highlight the raw and rough aspects of the artwork. I’m curious as to how well the hieroglyphics are in the background but I’m not doing any translating work nor would I hold any artist too much to that in general, though my curiosity is certainly there.
The premise for this is set in 1339 BCE where it focuses on Panya, the daughter of Tutankhaten, as she goes through her day and education. Part of her life is struggling when it comes to the shift to the new gods that her parents are promoting as part of their rule as she has more interest in the stories of the old gods, which she hears about from those that work in the home. It’s a point of content between Panya and her mother but she is naturally deferential to her and instead asks Nofrett about the stories more, and to try and understand why there are so few children in this city and some of the larger empty elements of it all. It’s an interesting way to highlight the many dead and buried from building this city and the larger cost, but Panya can quantify that only so much. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a nightmare or two about so many hands coming through the dirt to claim her, however.
Panya is more of an observer in this issue as a way for us to see what’s happening and the nature of the structure of things. Her father is working through a way to gain more power and control as we see a new round of rituals coming into play in the latter half of the book and that’s what sets into motion the chaos of what seems like mysterious creatures of old flashing into the city and the sense of doom that sprawls out from it. The title of the book gives us an idea of what’s going on but it’s only lightly touched upon here and we’re more about getting the table setting here. But it delivers well in giving us a character in Panya to rally behind it and follow the story through as she’s of both worlds in a sense, growing up in what he father has created but interested in what came before and trying to reconcile it with reality.
While some of this is hard to pin down in the final pages with its actual impact and meaning, it has a really neat sense of scale to it and a dread that I find quite appealing. Panya provides for a fairly innocent character to see this world through and what her involvement will be and play within the world that her parents have created. I like her look toward the past to find what resonates with her and the inquisitive nature of it all. Roberson’s script is pretty solid and wonderfully complemented by the visuals from Mitten that give this such a wide and lived-in view but also as empty as you’d expect of the home of Tutankhatem to be. I’m really curious to see what will come from this and where it will lead to.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: July 12th, 2023