Dr. Mesmer’s Revenge

Dr. Mesmer’s Revenge
Dr Mesmer's Revenge review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Rebellion Treasury of British Comics - 978-1-78108-687-2
  • Release date: 2019
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781781086872
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

As seen in the sample art, Egyptologist Dr. Mesmer lives in a house so over the top Snoop Dog would consider it taking a theme too far. When the burglars seen on that page desecrate what he considers his temple, he revives the mummified body of an ancient Pharaoh to track them down.

This first story, originally serialised over several weeks in three page instalments has a camp charm, as the Mummy develops abilities as needed, but proves surprisingly ineffective at actually retrieving the stolen goods. It means Mesmer has to take a personal hand, and we gradually see him activating other ancient artefacts from his collection. PC Tom Stone is the resolute and dogged sort we’d want our police to be in real life, and is determined to get to the bottom of the outlandish events. However, Inspector Moffat, his commanding officer, is the buffoon all too often representing the police on our TV screens when yet another dereliction of duty is uncovered, and hampers Stone’s investigations.

The opening story occupies the book’s first third, and utilises imaginative settings like a cinema and antiques store to good effect, but future TV writer Donne Avenell never considered his scripts would one day be collected, and repeats the same formula over and over. He was writing for children, so we don’t have to know why Mesmer is a crackpot with no concern for anyone else, just that he is, and other cast members are even more cardboard, although Moffat eventually sees past Mesmer’s lies. There is some wit to the plots, having Mesmer and the Mummy interfering with the shooting of an Egyptian period drama (from Anvil Studios) for one, but they cry out for some depth.

What lifts the repetition is the art supplied by Spanish artist Carlos Cruz who creates an imagined, comforting suburban England in great detail. He obviously loves drawing the nutty Mesmer flying over the rooftops in his chariot, and packs in nine panels per page, each of them gloriously detailed. Some are unintentionally amusing, the Spanish idea of a 1970s British motorway cafe for starters, but the effort put in by Cruz means Dr. Mesmer’s Revenge is still worth at least a glance today.

It should also be noted that this is resolutely of its 1970s era. The only women seen are in the backgrounds of a fancy dress party and a single woman on the film set, and we’re a long way from any signs of an integrated society.