Review by Win Wiacek
The Dark Horse Omnibus line is a wonderfully economical bundling of old publications into classy, colour digests running about 400 pages per book. This initial Indiana Jones volume (of three) chronologically re-presents the first dozen Marvel interpretations following the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, also including the adaptation of that celluloid landmark by Walter Simonson and John Buscema.
Set in the days before World War II, Hitler’s paranormal investigation division gathers occult artefacts from around the planet, crossing swords with a rough and ready archaeology professor from a New York university, the unconventional Doctor Indiana Jones.
The movie’s format – baffling search for a legendary object, utterly irredeemable antagonists, exotic locales, non-stop chase action, outrageous fights and just a hint of eldritch overtones – became the staple for the comics that followed. These continue impressively with ‘The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones’ a two-part yarn from Jack-of-all-genres John Byrne, with veteran scripter Denny O’Neil pitching in for the concluding ‘22-Karat Doom!’ Indy swears to complete the research of a murdered old student, seeking an African tribe who can turn men to gold. He’s tracked by a maniac millionaire with no love of mysteries or antiquities, but possessed by a deep and abiding love of profit.
That escapade ends with our hero plunging out of a doomed plane and into ‘The Devil’s Cradle’ (by O’Neil and Gene Day) when he lands in an American hillbilly wilderness. A rogue US Army Colonel and a band of witch-burning yokels separately hunt a 400 year-old alchemist.
David Michelinie and Ron Frenz’s ‘Gateway to Infinity!’ sees the archaeological adventurer en route to Stonehenge, as Nazi spies again fail to kill him. A crystal cylinder is dated to the Triassic period, millions of years before Man evolved, so the murderous Aryans will stop at nothing to make it theirs. Luckily for Jones – but not the Reich – the spies eventually succeed.
Howard Chaykin illustrates the wonderfully classy ‘Club Nightmare’ (plotted by Archie Goodwin, scripted by Michelinie) as Marion opens a swanky Manhattan night-spot only to run afoul of mobsters and worse even before it opens. Michelinie and Kerry Gammill have Indy globe-trotting again in ‘Africa Screams’, as a tussle in Tuscany with tomb-robber Ian McIver provides a solid clue to an even deeper mystery. Following an old map, Indy and Marion are soon on their way to the Dark Continent in search of a tribe of pale giants, outcast from and last survivors of fabled Atlantis. Unfortunately, McIver and those ever-eager Nazi scavengers are also on the trail and in ‘Crystal Death’ the vast power of the Shintay nearly wipes out half of Africa.
German spies again target our artefact hunter in ‘The Gold Goddess: Xomec’s Raiders’ (Goodwin, Michelinie, and Dan Reed – sample right), leading to a series of death-defying battles in the lofty heights of the Big Apple and the depths of the Brazilian jungle.
This volume concludes in epic style with a breathtaking global duel and a brand-new villain as Indy is seduced by nefarious antiquities collector Ben Ali Ayoob into hunting down a persistent Biblical myth: ‘The Fourth Nail’. Jones travels from the Australian Outback to Barcelona trying to find the unused final spike that should have ended Christ’s suffering on the Cross, but his quest is dogged by bad luck, Arabic ninjas, guardian gypsies, immense insane bandits and irascible bulls looking for a handy matador to mangle.
This is a splendid chunk of simple escapist fun: the type of buried treasure any fan of any age would be delighted to unearth and rejoice over.