I really like the format of these Omnibus Editions that Dark Horse is publishing. They’re sturdy, pack a lot of pages and are a nice size to take with you anywhere. Of course, it’s no coincidence of timing that Dark Horse is releasing their classic Indiana Jones tales just a few weeks before the premiere of the first Indy film in nearly twenty years. This first volume is a perfect way to get you back in a sweeping adventure frame of mind and is a great reminder that, when handled correctly, Indiana Jones lends himself very well to the comic book medium. There were attempts earlier by other companies to chronicle Indy in the four color world, but they fell pretty flat. Granted, translating a film or TV property to comics is a slippery slope, but Dark Horse has proven that they are unmatched in quality when it comes to doing so.
It seems odd attributing the word “classic” to comics that are only about fifteen years old, but these adventures truly are. Contained herein are three mini-series from the early ’90s, “Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis,” “Thunder in the Orient,” and “Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold.” The first adventure is adapted by William Messner-Loebs and Dan Barry from a LucasArts video game with art by Barry and Karl Kesel. The second adventure is all Dan Barry goodness with art assist by Andy Mushynsky and Dan Spiegle. “The Arms of Gold” is written by Lee Marrs with the pictures provided by Leo Duranona.
Of the three collected mini-series “Thunder in the Orient” is definitely my favorite. Dan Barry had such a perfect grasp of Indy’s world, which makes sense as he previously did the Flash Gordon and Tarzan newspaper strips. His pacing is definitely in keeping with the flavor of the old adventure serials and his art grabs your eyes and drags them happily along for the ride. “Orient” and “Fate of Atlantis” compliment each other very well, sharing a stylistic continuity and the great female lead character physic Sophia Hapgood. Much like Marion Ravenwood and Willie Scott before her, Sophia is a strong, independent woman who is wise to the charms of Doctor Jones while not being entirely immune to them. Both of the Dan Barry stories are on par with any of the films and even surpass one of them (rhymes with demple of toom). That these were Barry’s last comic books is wonderful in the sense that he went out at the top of his game, but sad in the loss of any further adventures.
So, does that mean that I hated “Arms of Gold?” Not at all. For me, it’s not as strong a story as the previous two, but it’s definitely worth being collected with these. Saying it’s my least favorite mini-series in this collection should not be taken as a slight to Marrs and Duranona. “Arms” is a rollicking Indiana Jones adventure and is a lot of fun to read. It’s still Indy doing what he does best, preserving a priceless, ancient artifact while narrowly avoiding death and managing to keep his skin, hat and whip intact. My personal preference would be to read this one first, but that’s just me.
Anyway, this is one terrific collection and, at 352 pages, a great value as well. Watch the three films again, sure, but also read these classic tales in whetting your appetite for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. You’ll be glad you did.