Monday, March 24, 2008

Issue 5


"The Harbingers"

Writer: David Micheline
Penciller: Ron Frenz
Inker: Danny Bulanadi
Cover: No signature visible, probably Frenz.

Well, I knew lifting dumbells could make you stronger, but who knew they also summon otherworldly beings to do your bidding? I should get to the gym more often.

This issue picks up where #4 left off, with Indy and Karen precariously teetering at the edge of London Bridge in a stolen limo. Luckily, Indy not only has time to bullwhip them to safety before they plunge into the Thames, he actually finds time to lecture us on the proper care and maintenance of a bullwhip whilst doing it.

Indy not only loses his gun, he also loses Karen's.

This issue has everything: danger, excitement, spies, a creaky rope bridge ( a hallmark of the series at this point), quicksand, cross-dressing... Oh! and the summoning of some alien entities so beyond our understanding they threaten our very existence and sanity.

Treasure: Pre-human crystal cyllinder
Supernatural element: Yes
Love interest: Karen Mayes
Villain(s): Hauptman Emil Loeb and A team of German Commandos
Locales: London, Stonehenge
Gun Lost?: Yes
Creaky Rope Bridge?: Yes
Guest Stars: none
Cliffhanger ending?: No
Jumps out of a plane?: No
Animal attack?: No
Menaced by a plane?: No

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Issue 4

Issue #4

"Gateway to Infinity"

Writer: David Micheline
Penciler: Ron Frenz
Inker: Danny Bulandi
Cover: Frenz/Gustovich

I haven't really addressed this yet, but over the course of 34 months, our hero finds himself being attacked by, or hanging from, airplanes a surprising number of times. While that precedent has not yet been set as of issue #4, he is being menaced by a subway train.

Refreshingly, on this cover he's using his whip to fend off attackers, not attack the reader. He's even standing between his assailants and the damsel in distress this time (although one could argue that he's just using her to shield him from that train).

Also worthy of note: this is the first issue to include the "Featuring the hero of Raiders of the Lost Ark" blurb (Told ya they had the font!). Perhaps the combination of an unrecognizable title font and starting a tie-in comic two years after a movie has come and gone left the good folks at Marvel wondering if anyone knew what their comic was about??

Oh, and just how menacing is a Nazi in a purple coat??

This issue gets things cracking right off the bat with a lame justification for Indy to-you guessed it!- jump out of a plane! Bear in mind, this is ground breaking stuff. He won't jump out of that plane in Temple of Doom for a whole other year.

The central plot of the issue involves Indy being sent to London by the US government to help a team of British scientists analyze a weird, crystal cylinder found inside one of the stones of Stonehenge. The cylinder has writing on it ans shows signs of fabrication, but it clearly predates human existence.

An intriguing story idea but it seems more like something out of a Quatermass movie than Indiana Jones. What does an Archaeologist have to do with an artifact he can't possible know anything about?

Actually, this storyline is not to bad. In fact, it's one of the better stories from the first year, even though it has a plot straight out of Weird Tales. The villains, a squad of Nazi Commandos, feel reasonably competent and ruthless. Indy not only retains his gun, he actually shoots a German with it.

Although still a bit too wordy in the grand Marvel tradition, this issue actually manages to deliver some fast-paced (if ocasionally corny) action.

Treasure: Pre-human crystal cyllinder
Supernatural element: none
Love interest: Karen Mayes
Villain(s): A team of German Commandos
Locales: London
Gun Lost?: No
Creaky Rope Bridge?: No
Guest Stars: none
Cliffhanger ending?: Yes
Jumps out of a plane?: Yes
Animal attack?: No
Menaced by a plane?: No

Friday, March 21, 2008

Issue 3

Issue#3 March, 1983

"The Devil's Cradle"
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Gene Day and Richard Howell
Inker: Mel Candido and Danny Bulanadi
Cover: Howell and Candido

Wow! This cover looks like it goes to a lost issue of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos! I mean, I know Indy is an action hero and all, but yeesh! And when did Dr. Jones stop fighting Nazi's and start fighting doughboys? On an historical note: Indy is driving a WWII Jeep. Which is a little awkward, since it won't debut until 1941 and this story is set in 1936.

The story begins where the last issue left off, with Indy parachuting to "safety" from a crashing plane. We are never told what state Indy has landed in, but it's populated by broad caricatures of hillbillies. Snuffy Smith would be right at home with these yokels.

Indy encounters an aged alchemist named Prospero. Really, Denny? Prospero? Why not Merlin or Gandalf or The Amazing Mumford while you were at it? Prospero!... Where was I? Oh, yeah. So Prosper0 is busy whipping up a batch of some magic elixir that makes him immortal. Only problem is, he wants to blow up an army base too. I think. Or the Army is in the way or- I've read this twice and I still don't think I really follow this.

This issue was so weak, when I went to read all of these in order a month or two ago, I read 1,2 and 3 and swore off the whole series. I did eventually come back to it. But it was a tough choice.

Indy's pants are really tight in this one. Like Aerosmith tight! And he keeps his gun, but never actually shoots it.

Treasure: none
Supernatural element: Yes
Love interest: none
Villain(s): Prospero
Locales: an undisclosed mountainous region
Gun Lost?: No
Creaky Rope Bridge?: Yes
Guest Stars: None
Cliffhanger ending?: No
Jumps out of a plane?: Yes
Animal attack?: No
Menaced by a plane?: No

Issue 2

Issue#2 february, 1983

Writer: "Missouri" O'Neil
Pencils: "Chicago" Byrne
Inks: "Michigan" Austin
Cover: John Byrne and Terry Austin

Okay. This cover is more like it. Oh, sure it's got a hideous yellow, orange, purple, green color scheme, but there's actually something HAPPENING.

This issue, entitled "22 Karat Doom" is the conclusion of the storyline began in issue #1. Indy and Edith are about to be lowered into a pit of molten gold (which explains the anguished looks on the faces of all the gold "statues"). There are some pretty predictable plot twists here- not exactly an M. Knight Shyamalan flick.

Maybe there's a hidden metaphor here: You can gold-plate a dessicated corpse, but it doesn't make it a work of art!

Treasure: gold statues
Supernatural element: Yes
Love interest: Edith Dunne
Villain(s): Solomon Black
Locales: An unnamed African Island with a lost city, presumably either the Island or the City are called Ikammanen.
Gun Lost?: Yes
Creaky Rope Bridge?: No
Guest Stars: None
Cliffhanger ending?: No
Jumps out of a plane?: Yes
Animal attack?: No
Menaced by a plane?: No

Marvel's Indiana Jones Comics- Where they went wrong and other observations

In the glorious early 1980's, if you had a licensed property you thought would do well as a comic book, you went to Marvel. Already producing a monthly comics version of "Star Wars", it seems inevitable that Marvel Comics would be the ones to publish a tie-in series to the Lucas/Speilberg blockbuster, "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

The series was dubbed "The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones" and lasted 34 issues from January, 1983 to March, 1986 when it was unceremoniously cancelled. Over the course of those issues, the good folks at Marvel stumbled their way through numerous attempts at finding an Indiana Jones-worthy plot, creating new foes for the intrepid archaeologist -nee treasure-hunter, and at finding a way to make him lose his gun in nearly every single issue (This was during the days of the strictly enforced "Comics Code". Apparently, it was okay for Indy to shoot people at the movies, but not in the comics). In his 4-color adventures, Indy seldom really resembles Harrison Ford and is outfitted in a garish yellow shirt and some pants that are maybe brown or tan, but read sort of purple. But enough summary, let's have a look at the comics:

Issue #1 January 1983
Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne and Terry Austin
Cover: Terry Austin

Let's start with the cover. I guess Marvel wasn't given access to the font that was used for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or I would If I didn't know that they also did a comic book adaptation of Raiders. For some reason they went with this blocky, static nightmare. The cover art is a weird composition. No background, just gradated color. Indy (who looks like Tom Selleck - just when did Marvel cut the deal to do this comic??
) seems to be attacking the reader with his whip. Which seems like a really bad idea, since those sinister men with big knives are attacking his partner in the background. Maybe he could just shoot those guys. Oh, wait! That would be far more horrible than beating someone with a whip. It'll never get past the Comics Code Authority! Besides, he hands over his gun on pg 14.

The plot of this issue centers around the search for a lost treasure called the "Ikons of Ikammanen". Which is a fancy name for some big, gold statues stashed away on some mysterious island. The story is very caption and dialog heavy and a slow read. I don
't want to spoil the plot (in case anyone ever wants to read this), but the breakdown is:

Treasure: gold statues
Supernatural element: none
Love interest: Edith Dunne
Villain(s): Solomon Black
Locales: Krikambo (in NW Africa) and an unnamed African Island with a lost city, presumably either the Island or the City are called Ikammanen.
Gun Lost?: Yes
Creaky Rope Bridge?: No
Guest Stars: Marcus Brody
Cliffhanger ending?: Yes
Jumps out of a plane?: No
Animal attack?: No
Menaced by a plane?: No

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Boredom does terrible things.

To preface this, I've been all about Indiana Jones lately. I'm jonesin' for Indiana Jones. I can't wait until May to see the new one. So, yesterday at work I had the following conversation with a friend and co-worker:

Me: I used to want to be an archeologist.
Me: Then I really thought about what they do. Too much squatting and digging.Not enough Nazi-punching.
Me: And despite my hours of practice, not really a lot of need for a bullwhip.
Jesse P Hill: ha ha
Jesse P Hill: yeah the archaeology isn't QUITE so cool
Jesse P Hill: unfortunately there's not many occupations that involve consistent fights with members of the nazi party.
Me: Yeah. *sigh*
Jesse P Hill: i know
Jesse P Hill: sucks dude
Jesse P Hill: i miss the old days.
Jesse P Hill: you know.
Jesse P Hill: WWII.
Me: Well, there's always the American Nazi Party. I could start a fight with them. I don;t think they're trying to steal any cool, occult artifacts... but then I don't actually KNOW that.
Jesse P Hill: that's true...
Jesse P Hill: but yeah
Jesse P Hill: i think they've kind of lost that whole magic edge that the SS used to have
Jesse P Hill: and now theyre just redneck morons without the benefit of ritual knives and german accents
Me: True.
Me: I wonder if there's a local branch of the Thugee cult...

Jesse P Hill: ha ha
Jesse P Hill: or any money-hungry counter-archaeologists who want to take your findings and sell them to private collectors...
Jesse P Hill: hmmm.
Me: Hmmm...
Me: Perhaps I could find an arch-nemesis at the Ohio Historical society. We could do battle over arrowheads and potshards.
Jesse P Hill: yeah. you could be like an indiana jones. who sucks.
Me : Ha!
Jesse P Hill: too bad the spear of destiny was already found
Jesse P Hill: you TOTALLY coulda found that.
Me: Yeah. 3 or 4 of them
Jesse P Hill: ha
Jesse P Hill: really?
Jesse P Hill: guess that makes sense
Jesse P Hill: i wanted to do a story of the relic thiefs from back in the day
Me :I had an idea for a story i never did anything with. back at the turn of the previous century, dinosaur hunting was super-competitive. I pictured rival paleantologists fighting over a T-rex skeleton. It would have involved a train chase, etc.
Jesse P Hill: naturally
Jesse P Hill: can't have a turn-of-the-century action story w/o a train chase.
Me: Of course not.
Jesse P Hill: unless you were a communist.
Me: I could fight Commies!
Jesse P Hill: oh yeah!
Jesse P Hill: you totally could
Me: There have to be plenty down on campus.
Jesse P Hill: HA HA!
Jesse P Hill: there totally are
Jesse P Hill: PLENTY
Jesse P Hill: but i dont think theyre the kind that, you know, know anything about anything.
Jesse P Hill: they just listen to ani defranco and get high.
Me: Yeah. my enemies list is looking pretty pathetic.
Me: Can you carry a bullwhip in Cols. City limits?
Jesse P Hill: pretty sure you can.
Me: I have a revolver, but you can't take it inside anywhere...
Jesse P Hill: yeah but you can walk around outside with it.
Jesse P Hill: i think
Me: You know, all those stickers on the doors telling you not to.
Jesse P Hill: oh those aren't meant to be taken literally.
Jesse P Hill: that's more of a "leave your metaphorical gun outside"