Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol. 1 (Dark Horse)

indy-header.jpgEveryone’s favorite ass-kicking archaeologist finds new life in this massive collection of long out-of-print comics.

 

352 pgs. full color; $24.95

 

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis:

(W: William Messner-Loebs, Dan Barry, and Mike Richardson; P: Dan Barry; I: Karl Kesel and Dan Barry)

Thunder in the Orient:

(W: Dan Barry; P: Dan Barry, Dan Spiegle; I: Dan Barry, Andy Mushynsky, Dan Spiegle)

Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold

(W: Lee Marrs A: Leo Durañona)

 

Ever since I was old enough to appreciate snobbery, I’ve been a straight-A student in the school of thought that certain forms of media and entertainment, i.e. toys, movies, comics, should not be translated into other forms of media and entertainment. In the past few years, though, that position has become harder and harder to hold. All too often, it seems, plastic, pulp, and celluloid have merged, making wonderful media mini-empires.

With all respect to Alan Moore, some comics have made great movies. But, with mild resentment towards Michael Bay, some toys have inspired pretty questionable movies. Even if those toys inspired cartoon shows that, through the magic of nostalgia, were probably pretty awesome back in the day.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. So powerful, in fact, that it’s the main reason I made it past the first few pages of this book. But what inspired that nostalgia? Am I so old (or lonely) that I long to relive those rainy Saturdays I spent watching Sean Connery and Harrison Ford escape the Third Reich on a worn-VHS? Perhaps. More likely, though, I kept reading because I remember staying up late, sifting through a box of musty yard-sale comics. Comics my grandparents may have read. The comics that got me hooked on the medium.

The cover to the Indiana Jones Omnibus. Click for a larger image.Beyond the slick cover and splash pages of the Indy Omnibus lie wonderful throwbacks to an era of comics I’d forgotten I appreciated. My years of maturation landed me on a regular diet of mostly independent comics. I grew to thrive on abstract art, even more abstract writing, and anything featuring Wolverine. This book has none of those. The art in all three adventures is a type of pre-war realism that wonderfully and accurately captures perspective and form, but occasionally goes a little haywire on facial features and expressions. (There’s a baffling beard on pages 21-23 and some of the evildoers have faces so bizarre it’s a wonder how they live among the rest of the normal-looking people in the book.)

While just looking at the drawings recalls a very entertaining era of sequential art, reading the story clogs synapses with pure pulpy magic. Watching a bookish college professor turn into a badass Nazi-stomper in the turn of a page is entertaining enough to warrant more page turns from even the most pretentious of comics snobs. Read for pleasure or read it for irony, the book does a great job of propping up the Indiana Jones mythology.

That brings it back to why the book came out; to support movies. This reissue coincidentally coincides with a new Indy film. The seemingly crass money-grubbing behind the book is a turnoff, but it’s a turnoff that’s easy to get over. Art Spiegelman once bemoaned the commercialization of Peanuts characters only to reconcile his anger by saying comic strips were first printed to sell newspapers, and were—basically—a marketing tool.

So while this book is really just a reprinting of mediocre comic books designed to take dollars out of the hands of moviegoers, it’s still some of the best pulp available without the interruption of Charles Atlas ads, which are a far more devious means of grifting nerd dollars. | Gabe Bullard

 

Click here for a 3-page preview, courtesy of Dark Horse!

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