Monday, June 21, 2010

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures volume three

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures volume three (Dark Horse, 2010)

We should clear up one fact right off the bat: I probably like Indiana Jones more than you do. A lot more. Other than Shia LeBouef, I don't know exactly what anybody's problem with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was, so if you're one of those boring people who think the character should have been retired after Raiders, you're not going to enjoy this book as much as me.

Dark Horse has completed a full reprint of Marvel's old Further Adventures of Indiana Jones comic, which ran for about three years in the '80s and, when I was in the seventh and eighth grade, was among my favorite Marvel Comics. One or two of my friends harbored some snobbiness about it back then. Real Marvel Comics were the ones with superheroes; this was just some licensed property. Of course, since it was licensed, it was Marvel's to lose, and happily, Dark Horse snapped it up for their fine Omnibus series, each of which collects a couple of dozen issues in a slightly smaller size for about $25.

These are pretty good comics. I remember loving one of the cliffhangers as a kid, one that sees Indy staked out to be drawn and quartered. That moment holds up really well, as do most of the contents. They tend towards mid-80s overwordiness, of course, but Linda Grant, who scripted all but two of the episodes reprinted here, did a very good job using the format well. David Michelinie, who scripted most of the episodes in the second collection, handled those.

Online information about the writer is disagreeably sparse, but it looks like Grant did a lot of work for Marvel's licensed properties in the '80s, and edited some of their superhero books. Because she's not afraid to use either dense caption boxes or lots of speech balloons, she's able to pack a lot of information into the stories. It would take a modern Marvel writer close to 100 issues to get across all the action in these 25.

Most of the artwork is by Steve Ditko, and while it would be fair to say that this is a long way from his best and wildest work, it is still incredibly nice to look at. I really like the way that he lays out the action. The book is incredibly well paced, even if one or two of the stories have no choice but to rush to a conclusion, and just full of ancient prophecies, arcane dealings, double-crossings and Nazi adversaries. I'd happily recommend it, but then again, I liked Temple of Doom.

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