When we see mummies, we think of these slow, lumbering bandaged corpses who come to life due to the greed of a poor unfortunate soul who disturbed their slumber. These undead creatures are ready to curse all who dare enter their tombs. But what if they were shown in a different light – shown as heroes instead of omens of ill tidings. Welcome back to “Awesome Cartoons.” I am DevilDriver1313, here to take you on a road through animated history with Mummies Alive.
Before Brenden Frasier took on an ancient Egyptian sorcerer in Universal’s reboot of the Mummy franchise, DiC Entertainment was giving the honored dead new life in their animated action series Mummies Alive! The series told the story of four ancient mummies who awaken in modern day California to protect a young boy named Presley Cornovan from the evil Egyptian sorcerer named Scarab who seeks his soul in order to become immortal. Presley is the reincarnation of the great Pharaoh Rhapses whom Scarab killed to claim his soul. As they have in the past, the Mummies take charge in protecting Presley from the evil sorcerer and other mythical creature who threaten him. Each of the Mummies is aligned with the power of an Egyptian god. Ja-Kal uses the spirit of falcon, Rath uses the spirit of snake, Armon uses the spirit of ram, and Nefer-Tina uses the spirit of cat. They are able to call upon it for magical armor and powers to fight superhuman evildoers. To use their powers, they utter the phase “With the strength of Ra.” The mummies can also make horrifying faces, usually to scare off nosy bystanders.
Mummies Alive was a mythological tale set in modern times. The Mummies not only fought against Scarab, they all so dealt with other gods and monsters from Egyptian myth including Anubis, Set, Geb, Apep, Bast, Sekhmet, Bes, and many others, who were brought to the modern day usually as part of Scarab’s schemes when he gets in over his head.
AWESOMENESS!! With the popularity of Sailor Moon, magical transformations have become something of a staple in certain cartoons, more accurately those centered on magical heroes. The Mummies’ transformation sequences were visually cool to look at. Watching them go through the motions to summon their respective animal personas was something I could not get enough of. The remix style of the show’s Egyptian inspired music dramatized these artistically stylized sequences. Mummies Alive balanced the humor and the action. It did not lean too far one way or the other. The Mummies fought Scarab’s minions using an Egyptian inspired martial art. The series not only had awesome fighting scenes, but it was also a fish-out-of-water story. Watching the Mummies try to adapt to the 20th century is what drove the show’s humor as well as their interaction with other people. One example of this is when Presley is captured by Scarab and the Mummies needed a way to catch up to them. They commandeer a trash truck after Rath makes a scary face to frighten the driver away. What makes this humorous is how stoic Rath is both before and after the scare. All is not lost for the Mummies as they learn to quickly adapt to ways of the modern era. After watching a movie on Presley’s television (which Armon destroys fearing the man in the show was coming after Presley), Nefer-Tina is excited about driving a vehicle. She gets behind the wheel of the truck with their sarcophagi inside, quickly learning the mechanics of it and driving it back to Presley’s home. Usually, the undead have a hard time adjust to life but these mummies make the most of it.
Mummies Alive ran for one season in 1997 from September to November for 42 episodes. While the show was awesome for viewers at the time, critics were not so kind with the series, criticizing the animation and comedic tones. Still, that did not stop Hasbro from creating a toyline based on the cartoon. The series of 5” action figures had regular and “fright face” versions for the Mummies with Presley and Nefer-Tina having their figures released late in the toyline’s run, making them semi-rare finds. A final wave of toys would have contained a Night Hunter Ja-Kal and Armon, as well as Cobra Strike Pep but only a few of these figures were released in some parts of Europe. Mummies Alive was eventually released on home video, first by Buena Vista Home Video who released the “Family Feud” episodes in 1998, followed by Lions Gate Entertainment who only release the first four episodes in 2001. The first four episodes were released again by Sterling Entertainment in 2003 before the entire series was released on home video in Germany, which is available as of March 14, 2017.
Though the Mummies time was short lived, their adventures still live on in the memories of 90’s kids who remember their action and antics, and how cool it is to kick ‘tut’.