Review: Indiana Jones Adventures Volume 1

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With the success of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls (i know someone’s going to disagree, but come on, $282 million ain’t nothing to sneeze at), it was only a matter of time before Dark Horse came up with a new Indiana Jones series to ride the coat tails of success.  While the movie adaptation was a bit awkward, the digest sized Indiana Jones Adventures Volume 1, rocks the house.

indianajonesadventurescover.jpgIndiana Jones Adventures Vol. 1
Writer: Phillip Gelatt
Artist: Ethan Beavers
Colorist: Ronda Pattison

At first glance, Indiana Jones Adventures appears to be targeted to the younger crowd, with its digest size, kid friendly art, and what appears to be an easy enough story to follow, but I think kids of all ages will enjoy this adventure.

At a time when Disney comics are seldom found at the check out counter of the local grocery store, the small size of this issue make for perfect “mom, can I have?” placement.  While the standard comic format may appeal to many, the digest size makes it more convenient to throw in a backpack or briefcase without worrying about ripping pages or raising the eye of those “normals” on the plane, train, or bus. Had this been a normal size issue, I have a feeling, the panels would have been rearranged to fit the 22 page format instead of enlarging panels.

The art by Ethan Beavers is beautiful, and appears to be a cross between Mike Mignola and Bruce Timm.  If you like your characters cartoony, you’ll love this style.  Unlike the 90s Indiana Jones titles you can actually believe the character on the page is Indiana Jones.  The art is only enhanced by the colors by Ronda Pattison.

And what of the story?  This tale takes place in 1930 as Indiana Jones, and his faithful companion Marcus Brody, travel to Sweden to look for a fabled Norse temple.  Along the way Indy meets a beautiful British archeologist, long time villain Belloq, and yes – Nazis!  Knowing what we know about Indiana Jones through the four movies, writer Philip Gelatt gives subtle winks to the movies without making it a blatant roll your eyes groaner.

For example, the museum that sent Indy and Marcus to Sweden is strapped for cash following the stock market crash, and when the main relic – a golden ring – is snatched away from Indy by the British archeologist, Brody suggests that Indy move in with his father until things get better.  Bringing in these little treats into the story not only ties the issue with the rest of the mythology, but fleshes out the story as well.

The story does move very quickly when it is discovered it isn’t the ring that is the prize, and that is when the Nazis show up.  There are a few fight scenes, and a build up to a potential giant chase scene, but that is quickly dashed when Indy falls off his horse.  If there is one thing I really missed in this tale, it is the big chase.  Also missing are the melting faces, but there is a great Berserker moment that makes up for that.

Is this tale marketed to kids?  That’s a tough call.  The tale is certainly kid friendly enough, and the deaths that do happen, occur off panel, making this a PG title at worst.  However, some of the bigger words, ties to other Indy properties, and overall theme of grave robbing and stealing tend to make me think it may be too much for the pre-ten year old.

Other than that, Indiana Jones Adventures is a great read, and the promise of other volumes has me hoping we’ll see more of Indiana Jones in this art style, real soon.  I’m giving Indiana Jones Adventures a very high 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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