The Super Blog Team Up is back and bigger than ever. A group of like minded Bloggers and Podcasters have banded together to talk and write about pop culture expanded universes. What are expanded universes you ask? Well it all starts with a franchise of some kind, whether it be a movie, TV show, book (or comic book), you name it, that eventually become so popular that the stories branch out to other media or forms of entertainment. It could be a movie that other stories are written in novels, or a toy line that also had a cartoon series and a comic book. I think you get the picture. We’ve all picked different franchises to write and talk about. Please take a look at all the wonderful contributors links at the end of this piece, I’m sure you’ll find some fascinating and wonderful blogs and podcasts.
I’ve chosen Indiana Jones for the universe that I wanted to write about. I’m old enough to have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theaters and still remember the fear and revulsion I felt when Indy and Satipo entered the cave at the beginning of the movie and they had spiders crawling all over them. I have loved the Indiana Jones films my entire life and yet I know very little about the broader Indiana Jones Universe. I’ve never played the role playing game, I’ve never read any of the novels. Heck I’ve never even seen all of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles! My brother and I had a couple of the toys so we certainly had our own adventures but that is neither here nor there. So what made me choose the swashbuckling pulp hero of eighties cinema?
Well in the past few years I have picked up the Marvel movie adaptations for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade. Most recently I started working on putting together a complete set of The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, also from Marvel comics. The comic series was released between January 1983 and March 1986. This means that it was released well after the movie Raiders of the Ark – 1981, and well before The Last Crusade – 1989. Temple of Doom was released in 1984 and the movie adaptation came out that summer as well. I do not have the whole Further Adventures series but in the issues I have read there are definitely some incongruities between the events of the comics and the third and *cough* *mutter* fourth movies.
It is actually those incongruities that can make expanded universes so much fun for fans to explore and discuss. We love to compare what is considered canon and then pick apart everything that is “wrong” or “made up” in some other story. We love to look at adaptations of stories and find the differences or extras. In fact, a podcast I really dig, “I Read Movies”, does exactly that. Paxton Holly reads movie novelizations and then discusses the differences between the movie and the book. It’s a great time and I highly recommend checking it out. By the way he’s also joined the SBTU gang for this outing so make sure you check out his piece. Simply put it is a lot of fun to get into the worlds of our favorite characters and find them to be fleshed out, wonderful places we can repeatedly visit.
Script and Layout – John Byrne
Finished Art – Terry Austin
Letter – Joe Rosen
Colorist – Bob Sharen
Editor – Louise Jones
EiC – Jim Shooter
That line up reads like Marvel royalty, but what is interesting is that Byrne only wrote the first issue and provided art for the first two. According to Keith Dallas in the “American Comic Book Chronicles – The 1980’s” John Byrne did not like the editorial process imposed by Lucasfilm. After completing the first issue and finishing the plotting the second one Lucasfilm requested changes to the already approved story. John Byrne left the series at that point and the second issue was completed without him.
That is certainly one of the challenges involved with expanded universes, the owners of the property can be very particular about the stories their characters are used in. In the comics industry Byrne is certainly not unique in being challenged by the demands of Lucasfilm. Roy Thomas created the character Jaxxon, a green bunny-like alien, that Han Solo recruits in the first Star Wars comic story after the adaptation of the movie was completed. Lucas apparently did not care for the character and after that initial storyline he was not heard from again until 2018 and has since become the poster child of Star Wars expanded universe eratta. That’s enough about green space bunnies and prickly writers though, let’s get to our hero, Indiana Jones in one of his earliest non-movie adventures.
The story begins at the university where Indy teaches, in his class, where he is practicing his skills with a bullwhip by knocking a cigarette out of one of his student’s mouth. It is quite over the top. Marcus has just come into the room and is horrified but he’s there to bring Indy back to his office to greet a former student Charlie Dunne. As Indy and Charlie exchange pleasantries we see a mysterious figure outside the office window with a very large dagger, that seconds later ends up in Charlie’s back. Charlie had just finished telling Indy he knows where the Ikons of Ikammahen are before he collapses on the desk. Indy doesn’t believe they are real and Charlie never gets the chance to prove him wrong.
Marcus and Indy do not give chase and instead start going through Charlie’s things before they call the police. They find maps and details about what Charlie was working on and right then and there Indy decides he’s off on his next adventure. When Indy arrives in Krikambo (Africa) he meets up with Charlie’s sister Edith. They get back to her hotel room only to find it ransacked and the perpetrators still hanging around. They fiends grab Edith and take off through a window. Indy cold cocks one of the men and then chases the other one who has Edith.
After a couple of panels with Indy following Edith’s kidnapper through the village he ends up in a booby trapped dead end. An Iron door falls in place behind Indy, trapping him, when another door below his feet opens and drops him down a chute into a room crawling with rats. The chase scene is very similar to the one from Raiders where Indy tries to rescue Marion. Indy eventually breaks through a locked wooden door only to find Edith being held prisoner in a throne room filled with gold. In said throne is a very large, well dressed man named Solomon Black. It turns out Mr. Black was expecting Edith’s brother Charlie, not the world renowned adventurer Indiana Jones. He wants the Ikons of Ikammanen that Charlie had discovered. Under the threat of Edith’s life Indy agrees to work with Solomon to find the Ikons.
We cut to a boat with Solomon Black, Indiana Jones, Edith, and a sea captain whose big, bushy, white beard would rival the Gorton Fisherman. They are reviewing the charts and the captain doesn’t believe there is land where Charlie’s maps indicate. Of course he is proven to be incorrect as they eventually reach the location only to find the island packed in dense fog. The island’s coast is littered with wrecked vessels so Indy, Edith and a couple of Solomon’s goons are forced to take a dinghy ashore.
The landing party finds the beach booby trapped with arrows flying at them as soon as they touch the dry ground. One of Black’s henchmen bites it while Indy knocks Edith to the ground. Indy and Edith eventually make it off the beach and into the jungle. Soon afterwards they reach a village in a valley surrounded by mountains. The village appears to be deserted but it is built around a huge structure that to me looks like a giant chimney but is probably a temple.
Indy and Edith explore the village and make their way to the temple and head inside. In the middle of the building is a round room lined with alcoves. In each alcove is a golden figure most of which have looks of extreme anguish and terror on their faces. Indy examines one of the figures pulling it from its resting place. When he does this it breaks at the ankles and human bones fall out. Before Indy even gets the chance to be horrified he is struck from behind. When he wakes up he’s tied to a chain, with Edith, suspended over a hole in the floor. Below them molten gold. In the room are several men dressed in ceremonial garb, waiting to lower their prisoners to their death and turn them into golden Ikons of Ikammahen!
What an ending! This is exactly what I would want in an Indiana Jones Adventure. Indy has to leave his dull, but necessary, work at the university in order to find a mysterious treasure. Throughout his journey he encounters one peril after another. Joining him for the fun is a beautiful woman. As an adventure story is a perfect fit for a comic book. Turning the story into a serial means the author can stretch it out, introduce new challenges along the way and end the first couple of issues with a cliffhanger keeping the reader engaged, wanting to buy the next issue to see how Indy escapes. Is there a better way to sell a comic book?
Even with all that awesomeness, there are a couple of flaws. The art, while excellent, suffers a bit in my mind because all the characters look like typical John Bryne characters. There is not a lot of uniqueness to them. The highlight of the art is once Indy gets into his adventuring gear, i.e. the leather jackets and fedora, he really does shine. The fact that Edith gets kidnapped and needs to be saved two minutes after meeting Indy is a little bit much with the whole female character needing to be rescued by the big, strong man. Overall though it is a really well done, pulp style adventure.
Plot and Script – David Michelinie
Pencils – Kerry Gammill
Inks – Sam Dela Rosa
Letterer – Joe Rosen
Editor – Louise Jones
EiC – Jim Shooter
I want to talk about this issue for a couple of reasons, only one of which is that I don’t have issue #2 to discuss and finish the previous story. Actually the reason I want to look at this one is that it has a bit more of an Indiana Jones feel to it than the one John Byrne wrote in my opinion.
The story begins with Indiana breaking into a French monastery in order to retrieve an artifact. There is a group of thieves that are posing as monks into order to cover up their operations stealing treasure and smuggling it to parts unknown. Indy gets what he came for but his escape does not go to plan as the gang of the thieves catch him in the act.
Once he is home safe and sound he learns from Marcus that the paper he grabbed to wrap his prize artifact in is actually a map that could lead them to the fabled people of Shintay. Marcus tells Indy that the Shintay are a legend, a tribe of people that left Atlantis and settled in sub Saharan Africa. Their conversation is interrupted by none other than star reporter Marion Ravenwood. After a small lovers spat Marion invites herself on Indy’s quest to see where the map takes them.
Once they are in Africa they are forced to continue their journey into the jungle without guides as all the hired hands joined an expedition that came though just before Indy and Marion arrived. In the depths of the jungle the raft that they are on is attacked by a pissed off hippo. Using his whip Indy is able to get Marion and himself to safety just to end up in a tree with a giant boa constrictor above them and hungry crocodiles below them. They swing away from those monsters but end up in quicksand. They are rescued though by the men from the mysterious expedition that hired all the help from the village.
The rescue is almost too good to be true and in fact is. Indy and Marion are brought back to the camp where they clean up and are offered dinner and a tent to spend the night. Indy is a bit suspicious and snoops around the camp when everyone appears to have gone to bed.
He discovers a tent filled with supplies that after a little poking around are in reality Nazi ammunition and not the medicals supplies the crates are labeled with. Just as Indy figures this out his hosts discover him and bum-bum-ba they are in their full Nazi uniforms. Lousy tricksters. Indy creates a distraction with his lantern, grabs Marion from their tent and gets out of the camp as quickly as possible. The find a small cave to hide in while the Nazi’s search for them. They are not alone in the cave though and the issue closes with a growling beast making its presence known as the Nazi search party passes by.
This story really has quite a few elements that really stand out and make it an excellent tale. First the issue begins with Indy already in the middle of a caper. The reader does not know how he got there or what he’s doing but we sure are along for the ride. It’s an action packed opening that really grabs you right away.
Marion shows up in this issue, but she is not in need of rescue or saving, instead she puts herself in the adventure working as Indy’s equal, a partner. When she’s in danger in the river later in the story Indy is as well. Instead of just Indy saving her and moving on, he is saving both of them and things keep getting worse until they both need help from the Nazi explorers.
Finally the antagonists are Nazis just like the first and third movies. Also like those movies there is a politeness to the adversaries because they are treasure hunters first and foremost and then evil would be world conquerors. All in all the characters in this issue are more dynamic and interesting then the one dimensional ones from the first issue. The story is another good pulp adventure that ends with a cliffhanger that really keeps the reader interested. Both stories are classic Indiana Jones adventures that I really want to find the next issues of so I can see how Indy, Edith and Marion get out of the jams they are in.
That wraps up my entry into the expanded universe of Indiana Jones. I cannot wait to get back out to the dollar bins and comic shows to see if I can track down the remaining issue of the series that I’m missing. Back in 1983 reading these comics off the newsstand would have been a great way for young kids and comic collectors to relive Indiana’s adventures while they waited for the Temple of Doom to be released.
Finally I want to Charlton Hero for leading the charge and the great graphics he provided for all us SBTU-ers. I also want to thank Between the Pages for coming up with the Expanded Universe idea for this event. It was fun writing this piece and working with the SBTU community.
Now, if you enjoyed this look at Indiana Jones beyond the movies I would like to direct your attention to the other entries in the Super Blog Team Up look at expanded universes, just click the links below to go on another amazing adventure!
Super-Hero Satellite: M.A.S.K.: The Road To Revolution
Between The Pages Blog: Fantastic Forgotten Star Wars Characters
Comic Reviews By Walt: SBTU – Expanded Universe: Aliens and Predator
Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog: Logan’s Run Marvel Movie Adaptation
The Telltale Mind: Archie Andrews – Superstar
Radulich In Broadcasting: Flash Gordon Universe
The Source Material Comics Podcast: TMNT/Ghostbusters
Unspoken Issues: Mad-Dog (Marvel Comics, 1992)
Bronze Age Babies: Seven Decades of Apes-mania, and We’re Afflicted! https://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/2020/06/super-blog-team-up-seven-decades-of.html
Echoes from the Satellite – Tales from the Forbidden Zone – The Pacing Place
Black & White and Bronze Comics – Beast on the Planet of the Apes Review https://blackwhitebronzecomics.blogspot.com/2020/06/super-blog-team-up-beast-on-planet-of.html
Pop Culture Retrorama: The Phantom Universe
MichaelMay.Online: Treasure Island Universe
DC In The 80s: The TSR Universe
Cavalcade of Awesome – Jumper Universe
The Daily Rios – Little Shop of Horrors
Lost N Comics Youtube – Expanding the Medium: Motion/Audio Comics