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Soldier of Ra

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

Who ever said Spawn was the only one who could rise from his grave?

These emissaries are created from the tears and sweat of the Sun God, serving as deadly reminders of Ra's fury and might.

Deadly reminders of what-what? It is at this point that the story really goes off the rails. After (relatively) direct parallels with Osiris and Anubis, the Age of Pharaohs line took a strange tangent with the Scarab Assassin, but at least that one didn't seem directly connected to the story at all - he was just introduced as a character without any tie to the rest of the mythology. The Soldiers of Ra, meanwhile, are specifically noted in the series' backstory as being created in response to a threat from Osiris. Uh, sure. What? The story doesn't even bother to explain how Osiris challenged Ra's will, just says he did it. Lame!

The story does say that the army rose from the desert sands, and the figure at least bothers to match that bit of literary fluff. The Soldier's skin is pallid, and more than slightly desiccated - it wrinkles unnaturaly and doesn't quite hang on the muscles the way it should. He has the look of a man lost in the desert, buried in dry and dusty sands and forgotten until he was called forth once more. And honestly, other than his strange helmet, he even dresses fairly normally: he's got a bit of armor on his chest and shoulders, a skirt and loincloth, and a simple pair of sandals. That's hardly beyond the realm of reality for an anicent Egyptian soldier, is it? The sculpt could use some work, though, because his skirt still looks like clay, not cloth - a rare misstep from McFarlane.

So, that helmet. It looks like a nemes head-dress, complete with the uraeus on the forehead. There's a demonic facemask with a false goatee, and if it stopped there, it'd be fine. But rather, the entire piece is crowned by a pair of horns with golden cobras wrapped entwining them and a large sun disc with an eye lodged in the center. Those symbols are generally associated with Ra's daughter Hathor, the cow goddess, but some of them were adopted in the late mythology for the Mnevis bull, which was seen as an aspect of Ra - so their inclusion here isn't really too outlandish. With the headdress on, the figure is more than 7¼" tall.

Beneath the cow horn mask, the Soldier of Ra has a gruesome face. Cadaverous flesh stretches over the skull beneath, making him look rather like the hybrid alien from Alien: Resurrection. His eyes are green-yellow, but it's still obvious his was once a man. In the real Egyptian myths, all mankind was created by Ra's tears and sweat, not just the Soldiers of Ra; maybe we can assume that's meant to inform us these are animated corpses, not purely mystical vessels.

The Soldier of Ra is the most highly articulated figure in this series, but it's pretty much all useless. He has swivels at the neck, shoulders, right bicep, left elbow, wrists, waist and right thigh, but you still can't get more than one pose out of him. The best offering is the matched pair of wrists, which will at least allow you to reposition his weapons slightly. He's armed with a large obsidian axe and a completely goofball spear. Though he'll stand fine by himself, the soldier has a base: it's a small pile of sand, with a deep impression for his foot. There are two cartouches in the sand, as well: one standing, with meaningless symbols on it; the other has fallen over and been partially buried, but still clearly says "DAN" - looks like somebody signed their name to their work!

The axe is detailed quite differently on both sides of the head, though there are (fake) hieroglyphics on both sides - seriously, the symbols may look real, but they're utter gibberish. Most of them don't even appear on Sir Alan Gardiner's 700-item list of hieroglyphic signs, which would make them about as real as if I tried to write Japanese. The spear has a hook at one end and a blade at the other. The blade is adorned on both sides with the Eye of Ra, and the center of the eye is actually clear plastic; the hooked end resembles a bird, so it's probably meant to be the Benu, a pheonix/heron-like bird that was also a manifestation of Ra. Symbolism! The weapons are both nearly 9" long, so the sand base will help keep the Soldier from falling over when he holds them.

Interestingly, while Ra plays no part in the actual Osiris myth, the implied battle between the two in the Spawniverse isn't entirely unfounded. The worship of Ra predates that of Osiris by quite a bit - in fact, his cults were in decline by the time Osiris' gang came on the scene. Thus, it makes sense there'd be some competition between them, just like there was between Roman and Christian worshipers. But, as it turned out, the introduction of these new gods reinvigorated belief in Ra... right up until Christianity booted out the whole pantheon. Anyway, if you don't mind his crazy hat and ridiculous weapons, the Soldier of Ra is a decent display piece now that you can get one dirt cheap. He's certainly one of the most "realistic" figures in the bunch, for what that's worth.

-- 05/07/09

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