The Mummy: The Rise and Fall of Xango’s Ax by Joshua Jabcuga and Stephen Mooney is a fantasy graphic novel that is the prequel story to the film, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). It shadows Rick O’Connell as he follows his son to South Asia where they get into a spot of trouble with a legendary curse.
I’m a huge fan of the The Mummy films, particularly the first two (I didn’t like the re-casting for Evie in the third film). I constantly watch and re-watch the first film since it’s one of my go-to feel-good acts of self-care. So, when I saw the graphic novel sitting at the shelf of my library, I instantly knew I had to read the story! After finishing it, I felt incredibly conflicted. There is this one-half of me that is positively obsessed with the films and who appreciated the nostalgia that reading the graphic novel brought up. Plus, there was the added benefit of seeing my favourite character in a different medium. However, the other half came out of the story feeling so terribly disappointed because the potential of this thing was utterly wasted.
The plot had a rather interesting concept to it that, if given the proper attention to detail and some major fleshing out, would have made for a phenomenal prequel to the third film. I would even argue that it could have been better than the film. But the reality is that it’s excruciatingly paper thin and horridly rushed.
We follow Rick’s son, Alex O’Connell, who is on college break and trying to make a name for himself without his parents’ assistance. He ends up in Asia on the hunt for an amazing treasure that is essentially akin to myth since no one has discovered much of anything about it beyond references to its existence. Of course, things go awry, and father and son find themselves in the midst of a curse that is threatening to wipe out the world. While the basic foundation of it is clichéd and follows the same mould the films do, it works for this particular franchise…usually. Yet, between meeting the O’Connell’s and a few other new faces, and introducing the baddies, and seeing the main treasure, we don’t get anything more. The action kicks up immediately, but the significant lack of contextual information, world-building, and explanation of the inspiring mythos, the whole narrative became action porn for the sake of that and nothing else. The missing elements of a proper story led the path for a glorified shoot-out, rhyme or reason not required. Also, the representation of the Natives in the story is highly questionable.
This all fucking sucked because The Mummy films handle all that lore and backstory stuff rather decently. You could have told me this graphic novel was from an entirely different universe, or an original one, and I would have believed you with no problems.
Then we have the characters, particularly Rick, who’s my favourite. He wasn’t depicted accurately at all, and for an “official” prequel it was the biggest let-down. The way he spoke and some of the things that he said were so forced as to be grotesquely cringey. Rick from the films does utilise a few cheesy lines, but they are used sporadically and in limited quantities. His entire personality doesn’t revolve around shitty Dad Jokes and outrageous puns. It was so bloody constant in the graphic novel that it took away a massive chunk of authenticity from his portrayal, shoving it even further away from its association to the film franchise. I never gave a rat’s ass about adult Alex, so I can’t comment much there.
As far as everyone’s interactions and exchanges go, it was a hot bleeding mess, to say the least. In some instances, flashbacks occur at laughable descriptions of the jewel’s history, but there is no transition from the present to the past. The dialogues also jump around quite a bit, and the scenes and scenarios flash forward to confrontations or other events without any realm of flow or changeover. I referred to everything as being rushed earlier, however, now I feel that it may be too nice of a way of putting it.
Overall, the nostalgia of the graphic novel was nice, but that only lasts for a millisecond and only goes so fucking far. Everything else was a humongous mess of inconsistencies and poor craftsmanship. I do not recommend this graphic novel at all, not even if you’re a big fan of the films like I am. It’s not worth the time or the effort.