On Things I’ve Been Reading

Well, okay, one thing.

I’ve gotten behind on my comic book reading. You’d think, those little twenty-odd page pamphlets would be a breeze to just sit down, kick back, and go. Life doesn’t always happen like that, though.

However, I did just pick up something, and I read it on the light rail this evening.

Indiana Jones Adventures Volume 1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Philip Gelatt
Illustrated by Ethen Beavers

A few years ago Dark Horse Comics launched a kid-friendly Star Wars title, Star Wars: Clone Wars, in a smaller digest format. About sixty-four pages, full-color, squarebound, pocket-sized. They then followed that with Hellboy Animated, an occasional series of comic adventures based on the animated adaptation of the Hellboy comics. (Yes, it really is that convoluted.) Now, Indiana Jones receives the kid-friendly, digest treatment with Indiana Jones Adventures. Sixty-four pages of fun, drawn in a style not at all dissimilar to Batman: The Animated Series.

Sweden, 1930. Indiana Jones is part of an expedition to find something in a pre-Christian Norse temple. It doesn’t matter what that something is; he just needs something to show Marshall University that he and Marcus Brody are actually finding stuff for the museum. So, on a snowy, cold night, Indy finds his way into the Norse ruins, and there he finds that he’s not the only one looking for relics — there’s someone else there, with their own agenda.

There’s some puzzle solving. Daring escapes. Daring break-ins. Plane trips from Sweden to London to Morocco. Nazis. And, a certain French relic hunter….

The story is a bit shallow, though it’s not especially predictable. There’s one moment near the end that’s evocative of The Last Crusade, and there’s another moment that’s reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Indy in this story is a little younger, a little less seasoned, a little hungrier, basically. It’s a recognizable characterization, and the only flaw there may be that there’s no sparks with the “Indy Girl.”

The artwork is nice. In the main, it’s heavily influenced by the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm style for the DC Animated Universe. There are places, however, where there’s an occasional Mignola influence, particularly in the Norse relics. Does Indiana Jones look like Harrison Ford? Does Marcus Brody look like Denholm Elliott? Not really. But the person reading this probably isn’t looking for likeness accuracy anyway.

The main issue I had with Indiana Jones Adventures is that, in the end, it’s very slight. I read the book in about ten minutes, cover to cover, and at $6.95, that’s a little pricey. At the comics shop, this isn’t an impulse buy.

However, for the target audience — the younger crowd, aged eight to twelve who discovered Indiana Jones with The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — it’s probably worth the seven dollars. The story isn’t that complex. There are some interesting ideas, particularly as regards Norse history, so there’s an educational factor. And the artwork is eye-catching and easy to follow.

And it’s not a bad way to introduce readers — or reacquaint older readers and long-time Indiana Jones fans — with the fun and excitement of Indy.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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