Sunday, January 16, 2011
Retro-Review: Phantom Lady #13, Part 3
The story opens at the Daily Planet (yes, really! That's what they called it), where a reporter, Joan, is telling Dan (the Blue Beetle) Garret that she'll be with him as soon as she gets an okay on some copy from Mr. Waxler (the publisher – why the publisher has to okay copy instead of the editor is beyond my reckoning). When she enters Waxler's office, she's introduced to Miss Louis, an archaeologist, who is asking for a loan in order to fund her experiment to revive a three thousand year old mummy! When she's turned down, Miss Louis leaves, telling Waxler he'll regret the decision. Dan Garret thinks that the Blue Beetle would have his hands full if a mummy was brought back to life – but I have no idea why he'd even think that! Joan and Dan go out to get a bite to eat. But that night, at the Metro Museum...
Yes, Miss Louis has decided to pull a regular “Scooby-Doo” fake haunting bit to get her way! She takes the mummy and loads it into her truck (she must be pretty darn strong to manage that!), which she then drives to a garage that she's using as a laboratory. Meanwhile, at the restaurant (that must have been some meal for them to still be there), Joan leaves Dan and his partner to head to her publisher's house to pick up the copy. Dan and his partner are assigned to patrol Elm and Oak Streets this evening (by the way, neither of them are in uniform at this point in the tale), and they figure it will be a quiet night. But it shall be far from quiet, as we see when we look into Miss Louis' garage laboratory!
That didn't take long, did it? I wonder why she thought she needed money to fund her experiments, when it appears all she needed was a mummy? Anyway, at Waxler's home, Waxler is attached by the resurrected mummy! The mummy is taking him away when Joan arrives, and she's easily brushed aside. Now, while all this went on... apparently dan and his partner, Mike (now finally named in the story) have changed into their uniforms and are on patrol in their car when they see Joan fly past them in her own car! When the get her to pul over, they ask what her hurry is...
So, having heard that the mummy's been revived and it's kidnapped Waxler, Dan convinces Mike to use the car to follow Joan home, which gives him the opportunity to change into the Blue Beetle! Fortunately, Dan had already checked on Miss Louis' address, because he expected trouble from her, and off he goes running away (leaving the patrol car where it is... I don't know how fast the Beetle was supposed to be able to run, but it seems to me it would've been more efficient to take the patrol car there, and then change into the Beetle). At Miss Louis' house, she's instructing the mummy (named Cyto – doesn't sound very Egyptian to me) where to put Waxler, and then she plans to administer the “tube of death” to Waxler (which apparently strongly resembles the tube – I'm guessing she means “testtube” – that contains the revival formula). Suddenly, she spots the calling card of the Blue Beetle (a miniature blue beetle), just before the Beetle enters the garage! Miss Louis orders the mummy to kill the Beetle. Waxler warns the Beetle, who's holding Miss Louis. In order to get his hands free, the Beetle basically gives her a Vulcan nerve pinch before turning to face the mummy, who has mysteriously stopped movie! The Beetle sees that Waxler has fainted, but then the Mummy starts to move... and speak!
Apparently, the mummy is pretty slow-moving, since the Beetle has time to knock the dagger out of its hand and then pick up Waxler, intending to carry him through the same window the Beetle used to get in... except that the mummy starts to attack Miss Louis! The mummy says that Miss Louis is really named Patra, and in 1000 BC in Egypt, Cyto was overseer of the slaves building a royal temple. When it was completed, he planned to marry Patra, but she was really involved with their mutual friend, Kanik! She distracts Cyto during the construction so that Kanik can cause it to be destroyed... but Cyto is blamed, and is sentenced to be embalmed alive, while Patra and Kanik plan to marry! Now, Cyto plans his three-thousand-year-old revenge! Cyto shows the Beetle an Egyptian locket with a picture of Miss Louis' face, and she does look like Patra! Suddenly, Cyto starts throwing chemicals around, starting a fire.
The Beetle and Wexler escape, but the same can't be said for Cyto and Miss Louis/Patra. The Beetle brings Wexler back home and changes back to Dan before Mike and Joan arrive to check on Wexler. Was Miss Louis really Patra, or at least her reincarnation? The story never says, and Miss Louis denied it completely before the fire started... so I guess we'll never know!
As with many stories of the Golden Age of comics, there's very little thought given to making sure that we know who is who as the story goes... Mike's last name is never mentioned, for example, Wexler is never given a first name (and it's more than halfway through the story before we learn he's the publisher of the paper), Joan's last name isn't used, and Miss Louis' first name isn't mentioned, either! And how is it that an archaeologist knows enough about chemistry and medicine to concoct some sort of formula to revive a mummy... and how was it administered? It would've made more sense to establish that she'd stumbled upon references to this formula in her travels and reconstructed it from what she'd learned. One also has to read between the lines to see that Miss Louis apparently only had control over Cyto until she'd lost consciousness (although how this control was given isn't made clear... a side effect of the formula?). And what was with that “tube of death” nonsense? If she wanted Waxler dead, it would've been smarter to just have Cyto kill Waxler in his home... nobody would've connected that murder to Miss Louis immediately, except circumstantially... and it would've been hard to prove unless it was also discovered she'd stolen a mummy!
That's it for the stories in this issue! Next time, I'll look at another old comic, and start going through the stories!