Art and Letters by Tony Donley
Script by Marcus Perry
Edited by Kris Simon
Cover by Stephane Roux
“Denial. It ain’t just a river in…well, here, actually.” Al and his quarry are in 45 B.C. Egypt, where they tangle with a fittingly famed femme fatale.
In This Issue: Albert has cornered Colonel Reiger—his Aryan foe—at the Gates of Duat in the Palace of Ptolomies, where he prevents the dynamite-loving Nazi from blowing a hole in the stonework. (By the way, did you notice the truly impressive beveling?) Unfortunately for both of them, the palace guard are on their game and apprehend them, taking them straight to the illustrious Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra. She is unimpressed by their stories (and Al’s skirt) but due to their constant arguing with each other she is keen to face them off against each other.
A short while later, out on small craft on the river and after a short scuffle between themselves as the queen intended, Reiger makes a run (Er, paddle?) for it. All this ‘duel to the death’ nonsense isn’t getting Al any closer to the answers he seeks, so in a feat of balance and dexterity he vaults himself over to the royal barge, ‘borrowing’ Cleopatra to keep the guards at bay, and takes off after Reiger.
Following him back to the Gates of Duat, Al finds what the Aryan was seeking. Flowing from a font at the Gates is mercury, but not in it’s familiar molecular composition. Al has little time to ponder this development at the source. Reiger appears from the shadows, and after a brief scuffle—during which Al turns him into a Reich-loving iteration of Two-Face thanks to the Mystery Mercury—he zaps himself back the the Owl Mountains of Poland without the mercury he was after.
Shortly thereafter, but not before Cleo starts to put the moves on him, Al zaps himself back to Princeton where he gets an earful from his secretary, Helen. They ponder Al’s newfound variant element—Violet Mercury—and Al ponders the possibilities of the components Reiger has collected and what they could possibly be used for.
Reiger, on the other hand, gets more than an earful upon his return. General Kammler, the officer in charge of Project Riese, part of the Wunderwaffe Program, is disappointed (to say the least) in Reiger’s failure to collect the necessary Violet Mercury—also known as Xerum 525. The general decides, in the glorious villainous tradition of a monologue and a flourish, to take the fight to Einstein.
My Two Cents: Another triumph for Donley, Perry, & Co.! “The Clutches of Cleopatra” was one of the original issues associated with the Albert Einstein: Time Mason Kickstarter, but this iteration has been reworked to fit the new direction the narrative has taken. I could wax poetic about the writing (which is fantastic, as usual,) and the art (ditto: writing) but this issue in particular is definitely one for the history buffs out there. A name is finally put to our shadowy central villain, and it’s a name World War II enthusiasts will recognize: Hans Kammler. The same Kammler who orchestrated the development of Hitler’s death camps. The Führer put Kammler in charge of the “Wunderwaffe Program”, and Kammler and his team of top scientists worked diligently underground in Poland’s Owl Mountains on such ‘wonder weapons’ as what was later to become the V-2 missile (eventually used by NASA), ‘The Bell’, an answer to the American atom bomb, using Xerum 525 (Yep, it’s for real!) and numerous other nefarious projects attempting to combine the powers of modern science with the black magic of the occult. (Hitler was really a piece of work, wasn’t he?) There were a few mysterious accounts which leaked from the Wunderwaffe Program that ‘The Bell’ could possibly act as a portal to the past. At the end of the war, Kammler and ‘The Bell’ (renamed ‘Kronos’ or ‘Time’ due to the portal rumors) disappeared. That is a lot of history to blend so beautifully with the fictional Time Mason world, and Perry and Donley have done it with aplomb and finesse!