Saturday, 20 April 2013

Indy Book Club - Last Crusade Adaptation

Another post about the comics? Yes, I understand that I only just put up a blog about the comics only a few weeks back, but the UK version of the Last Crusade adaptation came through my letter box this morning and I felt it was perfect to write about in an article.

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The cover itself is rather plain. Just a cropped version of the movie poster against a greyish tan background. There's a picture of Indiana Jones in the corner looking at the reader. It tells the reader that it's a "holiday special". UK readers who are familiar with Marvel UK will know that they produced special comics around the time of the British Summer Holidays around July/August, so that kids on holiday somewhere could read comics like Indiana Jones, Spider-Man, Transformers, Visionaries, Zoids and Real Ghostbusters, but I'll be saving a review of the Marvel UK run for another time.

The comic is essentially a reprint of the US comics, just in black and white. There was a colourised version, but it was serialised in the Incredible Hulk Presents comics, which also featured Action Force and Doctor Who stories. It features the same art as the US comics, which I think feels a little dated, more late 1970s, early 80s than the 1989 era of comics when it was penned and released.

I picked this awesome comic up on eBay for 75p with free shipping. If anyone out there is interested in this comic, I really do suggest tracking it down and adding it to your collection. It's a rather unique piece of British memorabilia.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Disney and LucasArts


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Gaming fans around the world are still reeling from the news that Disney chose to close down LucasArts, the gaming arm of LucasFilm, which it bought last October for a record $4 billion. There have been many divided opinions on it across the board as some loved LucasArts and some thought they went downhill over the years. However, the fact is, it's still a sad day to see a beloved developer finally close it's doors for the final time and no longer make games.

First conceived in 1982  by George Lucas as a way of expanding what he had and making a multitude of entertainment across all formats. Their first game, Ballblazer was released in 1985 for all home computers and the NES under their name of LucasFilm Games. They released several other games under this brand, the most iconic of which was Maniac Mansion in 1987.

As a gamer, I started playing LucasArts games. I remember playing some of their best games like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Last Crusade, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, The Dig, Monkey Island, Zombies ate my Neighbors. Dark Forces, Rebel Assault, TIE fighter, X-Wing and so much more. They were a staple of my childhood and I will remember them fondly. I'm not blinded by nostalgia, LucasArts is far from perfect. Who can ever forget stinkers like Masters of Teras Kasi or Demolition? It seems that in the era post 1998-2004, LucasArts were more interested in quantity and not quality, pumping out loads of sub-par Star Wars games and licensing them to other developers.

However in 2004, Jim Ward took over and I respect him. He made some very difficult and tough choices for LucasArts at time time, such as making games that would put LucasArts back at the top of the ladder. He also reduced the staff from 450 right down to 190. He was concerned with making games that were about top quality, rather than just pumping them out. Under Ward, there were major successes in the Republic Commando game as well as the Battlefront games. As well as having later hits with episode 3, Galaxies and Force Unleashed, he also made new IPs in Fracture, Mercenaries and Thrillville. He also kept up the good relationships with other developers like Free Radical.

However, when Ward left in 2008 for personal reasons, his replacement Darrell Rodriguez changed things up. Things went back downhill with the mediocre Force Unleashed 2 and because of it's low scores, Rodriguez reorganised LucasArts once again and laid off more staff. His only success so far is the hugely popular MMO The Old Republic, which is one of the most played on the planet. LucasArts kept experiencing layoffs until 2010, when he was replaced by Paul Meegan. Under Meegan, the average Star wars Kinect was released and then we got the talk of Battlefront 3 and Star Wars 1313.

However, with the subsequent news of Disney shutting down LucasArts, all future projects have been canned to make way for Episode VIII. Disney later revealed that LucasArts would no longer create or develop any games and all future titles would be made by Disney Interactive or licensed to third party developers. This resulted in massive lay offs from LucasArts and ILM.

As a gamer, I am sad it's happened and we have lost an awesome studio with an awesome library of games. Sure, not all of them were perfect, but what studio is? It was inevitable as the quality of games had indeed slipped over the years and things were getting worse. I hope though with the licenses they do have, the best ones end up with studios who will cherish them, like Telltale and I hope this doesn't mean the end of classic franchises and IPs.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Indy Book Club - Dark Horse Bonus

Since the main series is done, I just thought I'd make a smaller article showing off the shorter one shots and bonus stories.


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The first story was a short 2 page story in the Young Indiana Jones Magazine. It's set between the Mexico portion of Spring Break Adventure and the start of Love's Sweet Song. In this short adventure, Indy overhears a German spy trying to start a mutiny on the steamer he's on. However, thanks to his quick thinking, he and Remy save the day. It's only appearance was in the only issue of Young Indy Magazine.

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Now, I know what you're thinking. Aside from Ford playing both, what does Han Solo have to do with Indiana Jones? Well, in 2003, Star Wars Tales published a story called Into The Great Unknown. It's an uncanon short in which The Falcon escapes from an Imperial Star Destroyer, however, a damaged hyperdrive and a blind jump cause the Falcon to crash somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Han believes they've made it to Endor. However, Han and Chewie are attacked by Natives. Chewie flees the scene and becomes the basis for the sasquatch myth. 125 years later, Indy and Short Round come across the wreckage of the Falcon. Upon exploration, Indy notices how "eerily familiar" a set of remains are and the pair decide to leave it be. Look for it in Star Wars Tales issue 19, or in the Star Wars Tales vol 5. trade paperback.



In 2008, Dark Horse released a one shot mini trade. Called Indiana Jones Adventures Vol 1. Set in 1930, it follows Indy from Northern Europe on the search for a statue that's worth millions and has incredible powers. However, Belloq is also after the same statue. Will Indy get to it in time?

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In 2009, Indy returned to comics again, but this time in a one shot. The Dark Horse Free Comic Book Day special. It was a flip comic, with one side being a Clone Wars story and the other being the Indy story. The Temple of Yearning. The story follows Indy in Thailand as he's found an old temple with a combination. However, his college intern has stolen a copy of the combination and plans to steal the vast treasure within. Indy decides the treasure is too dangerous to get a hold of, leaving his greedy intern to his fate.



The final short was Indiana Jones Adventures Vol 2 - The Curse of the Invincible Ruby. It was published in 2009 as a digest sized trade paperback, following from it's previous installment, Adventures Vol 1. It's set in 1931 and Indy investigates a series of burglaries of animal statues from around the world. The authorities believe that it's a simple burglary for the black market. However, Indy and Marcus believe otherwise. According to legend, the statues stolen are the keys to unlocking the Invincible Ruby, it's now down to Indy to rescue the statues and prevent them and the ruby falling into the wrong hands.


That's it folks. That's everything by Dark Horse covered. It's been a load of fun putting together these articles as it's given me and the fans reading this an insight into the world of Indiana Jones. All the stories I mentioned from marvel right through to the end of Dark Horse are all worth picking up, so please do if you don't already have them.


Indy Book Club - The Comics of Indiana Jones (Dark Horse part 2)

Welcome back to this super special look at the world of Indiana Jones comics. It's been a roller coaster ride through the Mighty World of Marvel's take on the intrepid adventurer. We've seen their adaptations of the movies and of course, their own take on adventures between the movies. We then took a look at the world of Dark Horse and their take on Indy's world. The first half of the story is complete, but now, back to the story, where we learn what happened in the world of Indy from 1996-2009.




 

After their successes right up until 1995, Dark Horse changed things up storyline wise and made their first story about Indy set in a post-war world. Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix was set in 1947. A world where the Nazis were long gone, Russia was on the march and Communism was on the rise throughout the world. This story saw Indy on the hunt for the Philosopher's Stone. A mystical artifact that a secret cabal of Nazis planned on using to resurrect Hitler.

A video game was planned of the adaptation by LucasArts, however since European laws meant that any games that have Nazi images in them, especially in Germany are banned, the game was shelved. However, LucasArts were infact credited in the pages of the comic. It was reprinted in Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol.2.

 


The next story to be released was Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny. It was a four part series set in the closing days of WW2. It featured Indy and his father in Ireland, searching for the Spear of Destiny, which is what Nazi agents want. With the spear in their hands, they could dominate the world and be invincible. It's up to both Jones boys to save the day. It was reprinted in the UK Indiana Jones Adventures comic as well as in the Indiana Jones Omnibus vol. 2.

 

The final story of the 1990s is perhaps a cult favourite of the fans. Indiana Jones and the Sargasso Pirates was a 3 part story set in 1939. In it, Indy is in the Arctic, searching for a Viking ship, when he's betrayed by the people he thought he could trust. Now, his only companions are a conman who's pretending to be Indy's brother and a woman who's on the run from the law. There's plenty of action, adventure, intrigue and betryal. Who do you trust? The story was reprinted in the Indiana Jones Omnibus Vol 2.


Sadly, after Sargasso Pirates hit in 1995, Indy was largely silent from 1996-2008. However, in 2008, Dark Horse released their adaptation of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


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Presented in 2 issues, each with it's own variant cover. It's set in 1957 and largely follows the plot of the movie with some minor differences. In the comic book adaptation, there is no race between the Soviets and the American teenagers. Some of the scenes in the comic are based around deleted scenes from the movie. It was reprinted as a trade paperback and in the UK Indiana Jones Comic.




The most recent Indy comic was Tomb of the Gods. It was released in 2009 and is set in 1936. Indy is tasked with finding 3 pieces of a stone key that will open the Tomb of the Gods. He's joined in his quest by Marcus Brody and a mysterious treasure hunter. Is she friend or foe? The story was partially reprinted in the UK Indiana Jones comic and it had it's own trade paperback release in 2009.

That pretty much covers all the major story lines and series released by Dark Horse. Will we ever see another Indy story? I'd like to see it. With Disney owning Marvel now and with the licenses for Indy and Star Wars comics supposedly expiring soon, will Disney take them back under the Marvel umbrella and we see them back under the Marvel brand? It's certainly possible. Feel free to comment on this and other articles.

Once again, if anyone out there is interested, the issues can be bought online or if you'd rather have them on a bookshelf, then you can find the trade paperbacks easily as well.