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Scarab Assassin

Spawn Series 33: The Age of Pharaohs
by yo go re

If there's one thing Todd McFarlane knows how to do very well, it's disappoint his fans audience. Here we are, after two weeks of telling you how Spawn Series 33: The Age of Pharaohs was very smart because it used the Spawn framework to retell a fairly authentic bit of Egyptian mythology in a new way, and suddenly the whole thing falls apart with the introduction of the Scarab Assassin.

Agents of the Cult of the Sacred Scarab, Scarab Assassins are living weapons loyal to the will of the Pharaoh.

Thank you, hollow and meaningless bio paragraph. You've told us nothing. According to the story published on Spawn.com, the Scarab Assassin, here, is part of an entire organization of guys, not just one dude with a title. They're apparently some sort of ancient Egyptian ninjas. There are masked and anonymous footsoldiers (like Stormtroopers or Cobra's cannon fodder), and also highly decorated royal guards, which is probably what this guy is meant to be.

Some fans have complained that the Scarab Assassin is a boring figure, that his musculature isn't stylized enough. Well, duh, of course it isn't - this is a normal human being, not a god or a hellspawn. He looks fit, but not ridiculously so. And really, other than the silly spiked shoulderpads, he's wearing clothes that wouldn't have been totally outlandish in ancient Egypt: a complicated necklace, a loincloth, some protection around his shins and forearms, and a long cape. Now, obviously that wouldn't be everyday wear, but it wouldn't out of the question for someone with a ceremonial position.

Of course, there are a lot of extraneous details. We already metioned the spikes on the shoulderpads, but there are similar ones on his boots and bracers, as well. His kneepads are stylized bird heads, and there's a jackal or something rising off his right forearm. A loop on the back of each hand suggests an ankh, and his large belt has a scarab in the center. He's wearing a ridiculously tall hat with a cobra on the front and a vulture sculpted on the rear - seems like a misunderstanding of the iconograohy of the Double Crown. His cape looks ragged and old, for some reason. This guy wasn't dead, he should look crisp.

If you remove the hat, you'll see the Scarab Assassin's bald head - although most Egyptians shaved their heads and wore wigs, priests actually shaved off all their body hair (a handy precation against lice, which would have been profane in the temple). Told you his clothes looked like they belonged to a priest. He's wearing a mask, which is held on around the back of his head, and he has a false beard like we usually equate with pharaohs. His skin is a robust tan, suitable for a man of that area.

The Scarab Assassin is functionally unarticulated - it's clear that is the figure could have come out of the mold in one solid piece, it would have. With his hat on, he stands 7¾" tall, and about an inch shorter without it. His accessories include two big scimitars, "the legendary Scarab Blade, special swords believed to have been forged in the boiling blood of Khepri, the god of creation, and said to take a life with a single cut." They look stupid. There's also a base to help keep him standing. The base is a pile of scarabs, but they're poorly done - SOTA did the same thing better three years ago.

The hieroglyphics on the Scarab Assassin's packaging say "Khepri," which is reasonable - Khepri is generally depicted as a dung beetle rolling the sun through the sky, but how that translates to "assassin" is beyond me. In any case, if you're interested in the Age of Pharaohs series, this figure is a good buy. You can find him pretty cheap now, and if you cut off all the stupid spikes (and find him some non-ridiculous swords), he'll look great. The underlying sculpt and paint are capable: it's just the superfluous details that get in the way. Sadly, he still won't be playable, but at least he'll be good diorama fodder.

-- 04/29/09

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