Friday, June 13, 2008

The Indiana Jones Comic Book Revue #2

All books are rated on a 0 to 5 Fedoras system.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #3
(Marvel Comics Group)

Written by: Denny O'Neil
Pencilled by: Gene Day & Richard Howell
Inked by: Mel Candido & Danny Bulandi
Cover by: Richard Howell & Armando Gil

"Here I am again, doing what I seem to do best; making it up as I go along!"

Dateline 1936

"The Devil's Cradle" picks up immediately after the events in the second issue with Indy jumping out of Edith Dunne's ill-fated aircraft. He lands in an undetermined location, described in the story only as 'a mountain'. After landing, he stumbles upon a small mob who are trying to hang an unarmed man. Naturally, Indy intervenes and escapes with the man only to find themselves running afoul of the American military led by Colonel Bulldog Hannigan. They give both groups the slip and then the man leads Indy to a cave where he and his grandfather, Prospero, have been living.

The cave sits below a rock formation known as The Devil's Cradle, and in the cave is a pool of water that is integral to the work being done by Prospero and his grandson. They are working on an elixir that grants long life but the military, believing the rock formation will eventually destabilize and roll down the mountain to the camp below, wish to destroy the Devil's Cradle. This appears to be no skin off Prospero's back, because he intends to blow the thing himself using dynamite. When Indy protests, there's a scuffle and Prospero's enhanced strength helps him physically beat Indy into submission.

Indy wakes up tied to the rock with the explosives ready to go off and escapes only to be captured by the military who think he is a traitor and a saboteur. Another escape leads Indy back up to the Devil's Cradle where he prevents the army from discovering the well, stops Prospero from destroying the army camp, and once again saves Prospero and his grandson from armed thugs. Following this, having no further quarrel with Indy, Prospero and his grandson lead Indy off the mountain helping him get back to civilisation and ending his adventure.

This is not one of the best comics I've ever read, but it wasn't one of those books where you read a few pages and you know that, despite your love for the character, you'll never manage to continue reading, either. It's a little stiff, sometimes pointless, and often downright silly. Still, I can't completely condemn this one. Had it come first in the series, expectations may have been a bit lower and it would have had an easier time passing muster for me.

I think O'Neill never truly found his footing in the Indiana Jones universe. Granted, he wasn't given a whole heck of a lot of time to do so, but in interviews with the man he admits to not having a good time writing the stories and welcomed the opportunity to leave the series. The artwork by Day and Howell is decent but never really grabs me by the collar and gives me a shake, if you know what I mean. There are some nice moments, like the double page spread in the cave, but overall an uninspired offering from a great artist like Gene Day. And in case you were worried I would leave the other artist, Richard Howell, free of criticism, fear not! Howell's contributions were more than a little stale and unsatisfying on several levels.

To be honest, I think this issue suffers mostly from following immediately after the very entertaining two issue debut by Byrne and O'Neill (who clearly was scripting over Byrne's existing outline on issue two). It was a tough act to follow, in my opinion and, had I been buying the series at the time, I don't know if I would have continued beyond this issue. The Coming Next Issue blurb of "Next: Stonehenge" might have drawn me back for number four, but there's no guarantees.

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