"The Queen is Dead--Long Live the Queen" was a story printed in the third issue of The Twilight Zone comic published by Gold Key Comics.
When Anton Krag and his associates Johnson and Miller went to Egypt in search of lost treasures of the past, they had no idea that an accidental discovery would yield more than they could have ever hoped to dream. They had found a tomb that had remained sealed for centuries...but it was not unoccupied.
Cast of characters
- Professor Anton Krag
- Queen Sirah
- camel drivers (6)
- dancers (4)
- royal attendants (7)
- royal guards (2)
"Beneath these shifting sands lie many ancient secrets! Sometimes, it is better to let them remain buried, as Professor Krag will soon discover--in the Twilight Zone...A sudden sandstorm in the Egyptian Desert threatens the small archeological expedition of Professor Anton Kras and his two assistants, Johnson and Miller..."
Story summaryProfessor Anton Krag was leading an archeological expedition through the desert of Egypt with his assistants, Johnson and Miller, and a group of camel riders when they were hit by a sudden sandstorm. The storm was fierce and the group was forced to take cover behind a small hill.
As suddenly as the storm had erupted, it stopped. The drivers went to prepare the camels to continue and in the meantime the archeologists had decided to investigate the hillside. They were amazed to find that the savage wind had uncovered the hillside to expose a stone wall! The excited archaelogists quickly started to dig out the rest of the wall. When they had finished, they observed that what they stumbled upon was a lost tomb!After continuing to explore the exposed surface, they pried out a block they had found to already be loose to create an entryway. The thrilled professor eagerly climbed inside with his flashlight and his assistants followed. Perhaps they were too eager. The team never noticed the trapdoor in the floor until Johnson stepped on it with his full weight and fell several feet to the floor below. Luckily for him he was only slightly bruised and was able to climb a rope thrown to him to reunite with his crew. The men promised to be more careful from then on.
They edged down the narrowing passage way until it emptied in to a large room. The room was decorated with elaborate hieroglyphs and paintings, jars and vases and golden cups. Johnson and Miller were taken with the goldsmithing while Krag was drawn to a unique painted frieze of an astoundingly beautiful woman, dressed in royal attire.The image seemed almost life-like. The professor was incredibly excited but also had grown quite tired, presumably overcome with the momentous events of the day. They decided that they would all return to the makeshift camp the others had established outside the discovered structure for some well-deserved rest.
Later that night, the professor sat up in his tent. He felt quite tired but could not get to sleep. He felt an urge to go back into the tomb and so he did, secretly. Krag knew it was hazardous to enter the booby-trapped tomb, but he felt as though something was luring him there—and apparently only him. He took the risk and climbed in through the small opening they had created earlier. The professor took about five steps into the corridor and then heard a sudden rumbling noise come from behind him. A stone slab had been released to block the entrance! It must have been another trap! The professor found himself stuck inside the tomb with no known way out!
The stone was immovable, especially without the tools they had used earlier to enter the structure. His only hope, the elderly professor theorized, was to find another exit. The men began to wander down the passage and had just passed the pitfall when another large slab of stone slammed to the floor behind him! He was being forced deeper into the tomb with no option of turning back! With no other choice, Professor Krag continued on down the long hall. Ahead of him he saw a light; perhaps his associates had come to find the lost professor. What he found was the last thing he expected.Before Professor Krag, in the center of the burial chamber they had discovered earlier, stood an Egyptian queen resembling the image painted on the wall. All around her stood attendants and guards, all in full ancient Egyptian dress. They, too, had appeared on the frieze adorning the cavenrous room's walls. The woman addressed him with an authoritative tone, introducing herself as Sirah, the second wife to the great pharaoh, Ramses. The archaeologist knew this could not be. Ramses had lived over 3000 years prior!
The queen went on to tell the man that they had been sealed up in the tomb for eternity until he and his companions had broken the seal on the pyramid and disturbed their eternal slumber. The old man cannot accept these claims. He had felt tired earlier and thought maybe he had become ill. This could all be a hallucination! It had to be, he concluded. Either way, Krag had no intention of sticking around. He rushed for the doorway, but another stone slab slid down from the ceiling, blocking the way. The royal court erupted in laughter at his quashed escape attempt. The risen queen ordered her personal guards to seize him and they did.Professor Krag was brought before the awakened wife of the pharaoh and forced to kneel. Sirah proclaimed that the man had angered the gods by his trespassing. As a tomb raider, he would be sentencef to death. The terrified professor pleaded with the queen, assuring her that he was not a thief but instead a scientist that sought not to rob the queen and her people but to share their legacy and history with the world. The ancient ruler of course does not understand what the modern man is talking about, but she is amused by his babbling. She agreed to postpone his death until they have food and some entertainment. Afterward, she would make the decision as to which of her royal pets, the black panther or the jackal, to serve as the intruder's executioner!
The feast began and everyone ate, including the animals. The queen even rewarded the professor as being the cause for this resurrection by providing him grapes to eat. Next, the court's dancers took the floow to the beat of a drum as the court watched attentively. Then, after a short time passed, the queen halted the dancing. She remarked that their time for the night had nearly come to an end. It was time to attend to unfinished business. With that, she had the guards again bring the bearded man before her. Krag made his final plea. He begged the queen to allow him to return to his camp and promised he would never return to the tomb, shutting it up once more, never to be disturbed again. The queen denied his request. The gods had been angered and they must be appeased.Meanwhile, outside the lost pyramid, the sun had risen and the professor's associates had awoke. They thought nothing of the professor's absence, assuming he was still asleep in his tent. The two remembered how tired he had been and opted to let him sleep a bit longer. They saw no reason to wait for him, however, and headed off to the structure's opening. They found it much as they had left it with the block they had removed lying discarded at the pyramid's base and the long passageway unobstructed. The men easily continued their way to the tomb, avoiding the known traps. When they reached the burial vault, they again found things much as they had left them. The jewelry and vases and other objects remained undisturbed! Miller and Johson were still in awe at the magnificent find, with so many artifacts pristine and untouched for millenia. Upon taking a second look at the painting on the wall, however, Johnson got the impression that something was different. There seemed to be an extra figure in the painting, one more than he had seen the previous day! Miller scoffed at the idea and was insisted that his fellow archaeologist must have miscounted the previous day. Oddly enough, there was one image of an individual that did seem to stand out. it was a bearded, old white man in a fearful pose, dressed in Egyptian style clothing and kneeling between two royal guards! It seemed to resemble Professor Krag, Miller jokingly observed, but it must have been a coincidence—after all, how could a painting have changed?
"Professor Anton Krag, Man of Science, wanted to explore the past! Now, he is trapped there forever--in the Twilight Zone!"
Response and analysis
Notes and annotations
- The frieze was noted to have been completed in a realistic style uncommon to Egypt's stylized art of the period.
- Darkly colored large cats (as pictured in the story) are most commonly melanistic leopards or panthers, the latter commonly referred to as black panthers. Melanistic leopards are more typical to forested areas of Asia, such as China, Myanmar, India and Nepal, than on the African continent, although reports of the large cat have been made in Ethiopia's forests of Mount Kenya. It is not unthinkable, then, that they may have appeared in the Egyptian court.
- Unlike panthers, jackals are quite common and are often spotted on safaris. The jackal was also represented in Egyptian mythology in depictions of the god of the underworld, Anubis, as a man with a jackal's head.
- Grapevines and wine making have a lengthy history in Egypt, dated back to the predynastic period—over 5000 years ago—of Ancient Egypt. Then, and in later dynastic eras, vineyards were maintained for the use of Egypt's leaders and wealthy and scenes of vineyards and wine production often were depicted in their tomb paintings. Plutarch stated that he was told that the Egyptian god Osiris was actually the first being to consume wine and that he was the one that introduced planting grapevines to mankind.
- Booby traps were not as common in reality as they have been portrayed in fiction, such as this story or movies like Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. The reason for this was likely due to the fact that elaborate systems of passages were considered to be enough of a deterrent to discourage grave robbers. Passages were frequently narrow and winding, ascending and descending throughout the pyramid, and were sometimes created to lead tomb raiders into empty vaults. The important chambers, on the other hand, were often found sealed off by large stones and slabs or only reachable through hidden doors. All of these constructs are possibly what led to tales of booby-trapped tombs, exagerated over the centuries by explorers and tour guides.
- Sirah claims to be the "second wife of the Great Pharaoh Ramses," but history books list Ramses the Great's second wife as being Isetnofret. Of course, Ramses (or Ramesses II) has been attributed with having a large group of wives and concubines, sometimes claimed to be near 200 in total, so the possibility exists that Sirah may have been one of them. It seems more likely the name is strictly fictional, however, as no listing for her name is given in the known list of wives and consorts of Ramses II.
- Alex Toth - Penciler, Inker
- Ben Oda - Letterer
- Originally published in color
- Printed on newsprint, 11 pages
- Reprinted in Mystery Comics Digest 03
- Cover story.
- The dancers in the royal tomb used zills (Arabic: sājāt) or finger cymbals, commonly used by belly dancers.
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