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A senses-shattering origin! (If you care!) – The Mighty Isis #7

January 28, 2015

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Wonder Woman wasn’t the only female comic book character to have a television series in the 1970s. Besides the bouncy Linda Carter shenanigans, the distaff side of the DC Universe also featured a turn by Isis — though the latter’s comic run was concomitant with the televised doings, as she didn’t have decades of funny page adventures leading up to it. Another heroine out of myth who showed a lot of skin, Isis was perhaps a little too similar to her Amazon soul-sister (with a dash of ancient Egyptian Captain Marvel elements, fitting since he was her broadcast partner on Filmation’s The Shazam/Isis Hour), and hence the show didn’t last all that long: two seasons of twenty-two total episodes. The comic’s lifespan was even briefer, though it didn’t vanish into the ether before it could dish out that requirement of every book and character worth their salt: a senses-shattering origin.

Like any female hero, Isis had troubles separating her private life from her job. (Male heroes of course have a similar dilemma, though the dynamic is feels a tad different. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, all that jazz.) When she walked amongst the mortals Isis was teacher Andrea Thomas, a young lady with a concerned mother and man in her life. That gentleman, fellow pedagogue Rick Mason, is by this issue none too keen on how this Isis broad has shown up at the same time Andrea has been disappearing, and suspects shenanigans (Script: Jack C. Harris, Pencils: Mike Vosburg, Inks: Frank Chiaramonte):

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Rick’s investigations lead him to a musty old library, where he pores over ancient tomes that detail the Egyptian origin of the first Isis, whose spirit Andrea now carries. This Isis’s powers had their beginnings during the rule of an evil sorcerer-king, Serpenotep, during which she was given command of the elements by a shaman to combat this villainy:

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(It should be noted that for anyone of a certain age who watched a lot of G.I. Joe as a kid, it’s almost impossible to not type Serpentor when you’re trying to type Serpenotep.)

She defeats the evil ruler, ancient Egypt is saved, and the shaman proclaims that the spirit of Isis will live for all time to fight injustice blah blah blah. So this trip to the library was a rousing success for Rick. Unfortunately for him, he’s apparently never seen any B-movie in his life and has no good judgment whatsoever, because upon conclusion of his readings he utters the ancient words that summon Serpenotep’s spirit, which promptly possesses him:

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Well done, Rick.

The rest of the comic is a dude-in-distress tale, as Isis tries to stop Serpenotep’s lizardy evil while at the same time not harming the body he controls. It’s not that engaging a yarn, which was the failing of most of the Isis plots — there just wasn’t a lot of there there. Which means it couldn’t have been a surprise to any reader when the book was cancelled after the very next issue. Isis has made only sporadic appearances on TV and in the comics since then, mainly in recent years, as the mines of nostalgia have been probed deeper and deeper. (Like pretty much everyone in the DC Universe not in the absolute upper echelon of heroes, an iteration of Isis popped up on the interminable Smallville.)

Isis — we hardly knew ye. But at least you got your origin tale, to go along with the forced-down-the-throat-of-American-Youth-Halloween costume.

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