Retro Review – Fleischer Superman – “The Mummy Strikes”

Fleischer Superman

Superman Homepage reviewer Micah Pickering reviews the Fleischer Superman animated shorts for those nostalgic for the 1940s.

Check out his review of the cartoon titled “The Mummy Strikes”.

Somebody call Brendan Fraser, because a mummy is loose in Metropolis. This installment of the classic Superman shorts has probably the most dialogue of the series, and is the lightest on action. Most of the antagonists don’t get much of a backstory, but in this short we get the complete origin of King Tush and his ancient curse.

Now onto the review!

2Rating – 2 (out of 5): I gave this short a lower rating because the premise doesn’t fit with the runtime and format of this series. That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable to watch. However, in a series that is built around Superman saving the day, a strong climax and resolution are needed. Had this been a 15 minute or half hour show, I feel like the premise would have been fully realized.

Our story begins at the Metropolis History Museum where the body of renowned Egyptologist Dr. Jordan was found dead near the tomb of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh King Tush. Near the deceased body is a mysterious syringe. Dr. Jordan’s assistant Jane Hogan discovers his body and is arrested for the murder. A speedy trial soon sends Hogan to prison.

At the Daily Planet, Clark Kent receives a call from someone claiming to have new information that could exonerate Hogan. Lois eavesdrops on the call and follows Clark to the museum. At the museum, Clark meets with a professor who claims that Dr. Jordan was killed by the curse of King Tush.

This is where the dialogue turns into an info dump that takes time out of an already short cartoon. The professor explains that King Tush was a young Pharaoh who took ill. Prior to his death, King Tush’s royal guards swore an oath to protect him in the afterlife. It is also noted that whoever should try to open the tomb of King Tush would be cursed.

The professor explains that Dr. Jordan was experimenting with an ancient formula, and had attempted to revive the mummies of King Tush’s guards. The professor also revealed that Dr. Jordan succeeded in opening the tomb but was poisoned by a spike rigged to stab whoever opened the tomb, leading to his demise.

Clark avoids the spike and opens the tomb, and seemingly has the story in the bag when all of a sudden an amulet on King Tush’s chest shoots a beam of light that awakens the guards. The gigantic guards attack Clark, the professor, and Lois who was hiding in the back of the exhibit. The newly awakened mummies put Clark in a sarcophagus, which gives him the perfect chance to change into Superman. Superman rescues Lois and quickly dispatches the mummies. The short ends with Clark writing the article about Jane Hogan being proven innocent, and her subsequent release from prison.

An epic battle between Superman and undead mummies is the kind of stuff superhero media is made for. However, this cartoon falls short on action just when it needed it most. I feel like the explanation of King Tush’s life story (which is a lot longer than my recap of it) was unnecessary and limited the Superman action that one would expect when watching one of these shorts.

Despite its flaws, the short carries the same charm that is indicative of the series. One of the more enjoyable parts of the cartoon comes in the form of Lois and Clark’s playful rivalry at the Daily Planet. Although “The Mummy Strikes” may not be the best in this series, fans will still have plenty to enjoy upon a rewatch.