Monday, May 30, 2011

31 Days of Comics #30

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #22
By David Micheline, Jim Owsley and Joe Brozowski

I was nine years old in the summer of 1984, and I was all about Indiana Jones.

Weirdly, I had managed to miss Raiders of the Lost Ark completely – and it would be another three or four years before I eventually saw the first movie – but I had been to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom three times at the cinema, and would have gone to see it every day if they would have let me.

These were the last days of the pre-video age, but that didn’t do me much good. The only chance I had to enjoy Temple of Doom over and over again was to get the comics. Marvel’s three issue adaptation of the movie was a fairly average affair by David Micheline and Jackson Guice, but they had terrific covers and little bits that had been cut out of the movie, so I wanted them bad.

But this was New Zealand in 1984, and expecting any consecutive issues of an American comic book was foolhardy. I got #1 and #3 easily enough, but I couldn’t find #2 anywhere.

So when my Mum said she was going to get the new Indiana Jones comic from the bookstore when I had the flu, I was excited as hell. When she ended up giving me The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #22 instead, I was horribly disappointed. I didn’t even say thank you, because it wasn’t what I wanted, and because nine-year-old boys are little shits.

Twenty seven years later, and I’ve still got that comic. I did get that #2 of the Temple of Doom comic a few years later, but got rid of all my Indiana Jones comics years ago, except for this one. (I really wish I still had #14, because it was the other Inidana Jones comic I loved as a kid, and because I just found out it was drawn by – bloody hell – David Mazzucchelli, but I haven’t seen it around in ages.)

I’ve still got The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #22 because when I read it I can feel the aching embers of that passion for All Things Indy, and because it’s still a surprisingly okay comic.
Artist Joe Brozowski could be mistaken for John Buscema if you squinted hard enough, and with a plot by Micheline and a script by Jim Owsley, things hum along nicely, with an ancient macguffin, trains tearing through the countryside, copious exposition, a failed raid on an indomitable fortress, Indy fighting a bear by shooting it with a champagne cork and a villain consumed by a demonic black flame.

Owsley would later change his name to Christopher Priest, and the kind of quick banter he would become known for is already in place. Indy’s thought balloons during his fight with the bear are priceless, showing his real fear as he blusters outwardly, and thinking about how much he hates those red shoes Marion is always wearing as he is crushed to death.

You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. I ended up reading this comic a thousand times in that summer of 1984 and I love it still, from the price that is still etched on the cover in ballpoint pen ($1.19 in NZ money) to the final result of a contest of wills. It was one of those cornerstones in my history of reading comics, a single issue that sparked a fire that still burns today.

Thanks, Mum!

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