Sunday, 31 March 2013

Indy Book Club - The Comics of Indiana Jones (Dark Horse) Part 1

As the days of Marvel drew to a close after the release of Last Crusade, many wondered what would happen to the intrepid archaeologist in comic book format. For fans of the novels, there were still novels being published by the likes of Max McCoy and Rob MacGregor. I'll be covering these in a later article. But in March 1991, things were about to change.

This was the first brand new comic to be published by the current license holder of Indiana Jones. This was a 4 part series that predates the hugely popular game by a year. It follows Indiana Jones as he searches for the lost continent of Atlantis. Aided by his friend and love interest Sophia Hapgood, Indy must race Klaus Kerner to Atlantis before the Nazis get the unlimited power of Atlantis. Like the game it is set in 1939, just months prior to the outbreak of WW2. It was reprinted in 1992 as a trade paperback to coincide with the game's release and then again in 2008, with the launch of Dark Horse's Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol.1.

After the amazing feedback that Fate of Atlantis recieved, Dark Horse released it's second tie in. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles debuted March 4th on ABC in 1992. Dark horse released a 12 issue series that tied in with the series. Issues 1 covered Egypt 1908 (My First Adventure),  Issue 2 covered Mexico, 1916 (Curse of the Jackal). 3 and 4 covered British East Africa, 1909 (Passion for Life). Issues 5 and 6 covered covered Verdun 1916 (Demons of Deception).  7 and 8 covered German East Africa, 1916 (Phantom Train of Doom). 9 and 10 covered Austria, 1917 (Adventures in the Secret Service) and finally 11 and 12 covered Peking, 1910 (Journey of Radiance). Sadly, the series has not been reprinted yet, so the only way to get these at the moment is by tracking down the individual issues. Hopefully, Dark Horse will reprint these comics.

The next mini series to be released by Dark Horse was Thunder in The Orient in 1993. It follows the story of Indiana Jones and Sophia Hapgood racing the Imperial Japanese Army this time to Shangri-La. The journey takes them through India to Nepal to Afghanistan and then finally through enemy occupied China towards their goal. It was a six issue series. There are several references to the Young Indy Chronicles within the comic. Indy states that he remembers riding with Pancho Villa and Indy also states that he worked with French Intelligence during World War 1.  It was recently reprinted in the Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol 1.

Storming off the back of Thunder in the Orient in May 1994, Dark Horse released their next storyline. Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold. Set in 1937, the story follows Indy as he travels to South America in search of Chimu Taya Arms of Cuzco. A set of golden armour belonging to an Inca emperor. Oddly, as the story takes place in South America, most of the people he encounters speak Quechea, Indy relies on a translator, though he should already know and speak Quechea as he rode with Pancho Villa and his men, who did speak Quechea. The story is spread over 4 issues and was reprinted in the Indiana Jones Omnibus vol 1.

Only a month after Arms of Gold had finished, Dark Horse released their next story for our intrepid adventurer. It was a two part story called The Golden Fleece. It hit stores and newstands in June 1994 and is set in Greece, 1941. In this one, the Nazis and the Cult of Hecate are after the Golden Fleece, which would mean supreme victory for the Nazis if they got their hands on it. Indy must recover the Fleece before the Nazis or the Cult of Hecate get their hands on it. It was first reprinted in Dark Horse Spotlight in 1994 and then again in 2008, in the Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol.2.

Penned in October 1992, the same month as Young Indy Chronicles, Dark Horse released their big story Shrine of the Sea Devil. The story was published in Dark Horse Comics Anthology to begin with, rather than a separate series dedicated to Indy. The story is set in 1935, prior to the events of Temple of Doom. Indy is in the South Pacific, searching for the Shrine of the Sea Devil, an underwater palace that's supposedly filled with vast wealth and treasures beyond comprehension. It was later reprinted in 1995 in a trade paperback format, but hasn't been reprinted since.

This is just the first part in a look at what Dark Horse had to offer in terms of Indiana Jones stories since they took the license in 1990. Next week, I'll be finishing my look at Dark Horse stories that;ll cover the end of 1995's run and then into the 2000s. Most of the stories have been reprinted in the omnibus format, which can be found online. Though some collectors may want the individual issues, which can be found in comic shops and online largely cheap these days.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Indy Book Club - The Comics of Indiana Jones (Marvel Comics)

First off, I want to apologise for not putting up a blog last week, but this one has been so big, that it's required a full two weeks or so to prepare and put together. It's a very special one for the Easter holiday.

You can name any movie or TV series and it will more than likely have had a comic book tie in. Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, RoboCop, Aliens, Predator, Buffy and much much much more. Indiana Jones has been no exception.

In 1981, a few months after the release of the movie in theatres, fans were treated to the official comic book adaptation from Marvel Comics. The three issue series was penned by Walter Simonson and drawn by Sal Buscema, both of them famous already in the Mighty World of Marvel for their work on the likes of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Thor and Star Wars. Like the movie, there are some subtle differences between the comic version and the movie. In the comic, Barranca isn't killed by the Hovitos. Toht is killed in Gobler's car when it drives over the cliff. The Cairo Swordsman does not appear in the comic. There are two scenes in the comic which were inspired some deleted scenes from the movie and it does explain one other. In the comic, Sallah explains to Indy after the Flying Wing scene that he was able to escape punishment by claiming that he believed Indy was infact a German officer. As to how Indy got to the island on the U-Boat, he lashed himself to the periscope with his whip, losing his hat on the way. Other than that, it's largely the same moments from the movie. It was reprinted in Marvel Comics Super Special 18, an Annual and in the recent Dark Horse Indiana Jones Omnibus: Further Adventures Vol.1

In September, 1984, Marvel released their second adaptation. This time of Temple of Doom. This time, it was penned by 90s Spider-Man scribe, David Micheline and drawn by Jackson Guice. Like Raiders, it largely follows the plot of Temple of Doom, with some differences like the novel. Like the novel, Short Round learns that fire can cure the Black Sleep after witnessing a thuggee guard get burned by lava and returning to normal, only for him to be carried away to be reconverted. It was also shown that this was a deleted scene. Chattar Lal is killed in the comic when he and Indy fall into the flame pit, however, Indy is able to climb free, leaving Lal to fall to his death. For some reason, Mola Ram is drawn wearing his cattle skull headdress for majority of the comic, unlike his movie counterpart of wearing it for the ceremony only. It was reprinted in Marvel Comics Super Special 30 and in Dark Horse's Further Adventures Omnibus Vol.2.
Though after the release of Raiders, Marvel released a spin off series. It was The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones. It ran from 1983 to 1986 and filled in the gaps of the story from 1935 to 1937. The first story, Ikons of Ikammanem picks up only weeks after the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The series ran for 34 issues overall. It featured all the classic Indy characters and even what they got up to post Raiders. Marion ran her own nightclub called The Raven's Nest. Indy even meets the sister of Arnold Toht, Ilsa. All 34 issues have been reprinted in the Dark Horse Indiana Jones Omnibus The Further Adventures vol 1-3.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1

In 1989, Marvel released their third and final comic book adaptation. The Last Crusade launched on September 1989 and was penned once again by David Micheline, though this time drawn by Brett Brevins. It follows the plot of the movie more closely than the others with fewer noticable differences. It took place over 4 issues, much like Temple of Doom was. Some of the changes were that there is no motorcycle chase in the comic book adaptation. All of the Hatay tank crew were Germans. The adaptation was collected in The Further Adventures omnibus vol.3.

Overall, the series has had it's ups and downs. Some have liked it's art and some haven't. I've been reading them and I've been enjoying the series. If you love your Indiana Jones and you love comics. I highly recommend collecting either the original issues, most of which you can get very cheaply at comic book stores, garage sales, flea markets and even eBay, or there are the Dark Horse reprints which you can find in comic book stores and online.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Disney and LucasFilm

I can understand many of my readers being a bit confused as to why I'm only just writing about this now, but I wanted to get more facts before I wrote a blog. Now that the legal dust has settled and all the information is here, it's time to throw my hat into the ring.

The biggest announcement of October 2012 was that Disney had bought LucasFilm and all it's subsidaries from George Lucas for a whopping $4 billion. Everyone I knew was excited. FaceBook, Twitter and the forums were alive with the news as well as thoughts and hopes for the future. Many people were excited and thought that it'd be amazing. Some thought that Disney were turning into a monopoly after previously acquiring Marvel. But to be honest and fair, Disney have largely left Marvel to their own devices comic wise and only really stepped in with distribution of movies.

The news broke that in 2015, Star Wars would return to the big screen for Episode VII and it'd have the original trilogy cast in it again. Once again, everyone was taking to the internet to explode about how great this was and what it would do for the Star Wars franchise as a whole and now that it'd be owned by Disney. Fans across the world have been in speculation ever since.

But then the interest turned to Indiana Jones. Where did the intrepid archaeologist sit in this deal. The answer is sadly tossed aside on the scrapheap. Despite there being several attractions dedicated to Indy across it's theme parks, the stores and the piles of merchandise with Indy's likeness on it available at the parks, as well as an overall box office record for all four movies of $1.9 billion worldwide, many people thought that Indy V would be a no brainer. The biggest issue that came up was Paramount holding the distribution rights for all Indiana Jones movies on formats. Though, this isn't much of an issue as Paramount currently distribute many of Disney's movies and have recently distributed the Marvel Cinematic Universe on DVD and Blu-Ray and there's no sign of that deal ever stopping. So if it's not that, what could it be? 

There are a few theories, so lets have a look at them. 

  • Spielberg tired of directing action movies
In a recent interview with TV show 60 Minutes to promote Lincoln, he claimed that the thrill of action has faded on him as the years have gone by. .“I knew I could do the action in my sleep,” he said. “At this point in my career, in my life, the action doesn’t hold any — it doesn’t attract me any more.”.

As Indiana Jones at it's core is an action-adventure movie, it doesn't hold much hope for a return to the franchise. But he hasn't totally given up on the action genre, as he's currently set to direct "Robopocalypse".  However, if Indy was to get new life in Indy V, how would fans feel if Spielberg didn't direct and instead, someone else took the helm?

  • Frank Marshall claims that "Crystal Skull" was Indy's "Last Hurrah"
Frank Marshall was the producer for Raiders, Last Crusade and Crystal Skull. While on the promotion trail for his most recent movie, The Bourne Legacy, Marshall was asked about Indy V by Collider and he had this to say:  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was “the last hurrah” for the franchise. He added that the principal Indy creative brain trust — Spielberg, Lucas, Harrison Ford, and himself — still “talk about” a fifth Indy film. “But there’s no idea [for a story]; there’s no MacGuffin.”

  • Harrison Ford's age
There's no denying it and no getting around it. Ford will be 71 this year. Sure, he's in fighting shape when he filmed Crystal Skull five years ago and he's still making movies even to this day. But how long can he keep doing action? The other point is that suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Can we really see a 75 year old Indy in the 60s, getting into fights with communists like he did in the 30s?

  • Shia LaBeouf is done with Hollywood
This one will affect people differently. There's Indy fans out there who like Mutt and then there's some who can't stand him. It seemed that in Crystal Skull, Mutt would be taking over the franchise at a future date and be the hero of his own series of adventures.  However, things changed when the news broke in 2012 that Shia was quitting mainstream Hollywood for more independent movies as he believed that “there’s no room for being a visionary in the studio system — it literally cannot exist.”

Now, compare his statement about Hollywood to the statement he made when he apologized for Crystal Skull. “[Spielberg's] done so much great work that there’s no need for him to feel vulnerable about one film. But when you drop the ball you drop the ball"

It seems to me that after a flagging career over the years, bad movie choices over the years, his drunken antics off camera and then the thinly veiled attack at Spielberg, his career within Indiana Jones is slowly looking dimmer.

Now, I believe that these challenges and hurdles could be overcome with a killer script, some recasting and a new director. But with Spielberg occupied with other projects and Disney/LucasFilm looking at expanding the Star Wars universe, Indy's fedora is going to be hung on the rack for another long while to come.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Indy Review - Mickey Mouse as Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is one of those movie characters that will forever be engrained into pop culture iconography. From the many parodies on TV from the likes of Muppet Babies to even Tiny Toon Adventures, Indiana Jones is everywhere. This leads perfectly into the wonderful and amazing world of Disney, though more specifically it's Theme Parks.

Indiana Jones has played a massive role in shaping these parks, I'd personally say on par with Star Wars as external franchises that aren't created by Disney themselves. Now, over the years, we've had many items in the theme parks that tie Indy into Disney. These have ranged from pin badges to plush toys of Disney characters wearing the hat and jacket.

In 2008, Disney Theme Parks released an exclusive PVC figurine for it's theme parks. Mickey Mouse as Indiana Jones.

Indiana Mickey as many fans call him stands at about 2 inches in height. He's not an action figure in the strictest sense, but he does swivel at the waist, neck and arms. His accessories include the gas mask bag, a whip and an idol in gold plastic that resembles a smaller Mickey Mouse. he can hold either the whip or the idol his hand, but the hand seems a little too open for the whip. If you want to pose him with the whip in his hand, I would recommend using a small bit of sticky tack on the whip to keep it in place.

As for the overall sculpt, there's no denying on who it's supposed to be. This is Indiana Jones. It keeps an Indiana Jones flair, while keeping with the whole animated style of Mickey Mouse. As is expected on PVC items there are mold lines and minor paint bleeding.

As a collector, I'd highly recommend this to anyone who doesn't already have him in their collection. He's a must for anyone who collects Disney memorabilia, or collects the Disney/Muppets figures and of course Indiana Jones collectors be they casual or die hard.

If you are ever at the parks, they retail in there for $10. If you can;t get there, you can find them with online retailers or even eBay.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Indy Game Club - Infernal Machine

After the LucasArts Point and Click Adventure era slowly came to a close, LucasArts turned to new styles of games for their franchises. Star Wars went deeper into the way of the shooter, going into first and third person combat as well as space. There were even RTS games.

LucasArts had already had a massive hit with the ever popular and cult favourite: Fate of Atlantis. So how could they make the intrepid archaeologist a hit for the dawn of the new millennium? The answer? Hal Barwood, famous for his work on the previous Indy hit, Fate of Atlantis, came upon the idea of making Indy into a 3rd person adventure game.

In 1999, LucasArts unveiled their new game. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. The game is set in 1947. Indiana Jones is met on a dig in Utah by his friend from Fate of Atlantis, Sophia Hapgood, who now belongs to the newly formed CIA, explains to Indy that the Russians are searching in Babylon for the Infernal Machine, which allowed the ancient Babylonians to contact their god Marduk. The Russians intend to find the Infernal Machine, the lost parts which are scattered in locations around the world and use the Infernal Machine to win the Cold War. With the clue of Babylon and an ancient gear that Sophia gives him, Indy sets off all over the world trying to keep one step ahead of the Russians and get to the Infernal Machine before the Russians can get a hold of it first.

The game has some exotic locales, ranging from Utah in the US, to Kazakhstan, to Mexico and the Phillipines. Fans of the series will enjoy a bonus level which can be accessed if the player can find enough treasure within each of the game's levels, a map can be bought which takes the player back to Peru and to the Chachapoyan temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The level still has many references to the movie as the remains of both Forrestal and even Satipo can be found. After recovering a second golden idol from the temple, Indy muses that "Belloq isn't around to get this one" and after the pedestal sinking and escaping yet another boulder, Indy mentions that he "still can't speak Hovitos".

The strategy guide from Prima actually contains some prequel material for the game. Indy and Henry Sr. are currently living together in New York and Indy is preparing to start a semester at Barnett College and the trip with students to Utah as mentioned in the first level of the game. Henry Sr. is going to be looking after Indy's classes while he's away and Henry reminds Indy to be weary of those "Godless Communists."

The game looks, feels and plays very much like a big hit of the era, Tomb Raider. Indy moves in 90 degree angles to himself in all directions. He can run and jump onto certain ledges. There's obvious blocks which can be pushed and pulled to provide a higher platform to reach others. Other items that can be used are statues and bits of wood where Indy can whip and swing across large chasms that are too big to jump across.

The game was released in late 1999 on PC and N64. An entirely different Gameboy Color version was released around the same time, however it was an isometric adventure and released by THQ instead of LucasArts. A Playstation port was announced and set to be released, however, it never made it to the console. Sources claim that poor sales of the N64 version were the reason behind the cancellation.

To end this blog, I'd personally say that Infernal Machine is quite an interesting game in it's own right that deals with the supernatural again, being as there's gods and ancient robots for Indy to fight. However, it's done in the right way that still keeps with the Indy theme. I do feel with the amount of action, the game could work as an interesting Indy movie. I'd say that if you have an N64, a PC that could run it or even a Gameboy Color, I'd say check out this quite cult Indy gem.