Friday, March 21, 2008

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

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