Percy Fawcett, meet Indiana Jones
In her Sunday review of David Grann's "The Lost City of Z," Karla Starr describes how the adventures of Col. Percy Fawcett "reportedly inspired the creation of the character Indiana Jones." Fawcett was obsessed with the legend of El Dorado and was convinced that it was linked to Z, his name for a civilization he believed was in the Amazonian jungles.
Already fixated on finding the lost city, Fawcett became even more intent on making a search after Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Grann's narrative presents how the explorer struggled to raise funds for an expedition. He was finally successful and then, in 1925, he disappeared in the jungle.
Dark Horse Comics has published "Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures," which collects the comics series that followed the box office success of 1981's movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
The omnibus begins with the comics adaptation of "Raiders": It's interesting to see how the illustrators treat familiar scenes from the movie. Sometimes their choices of what to show -- and what not to show -- are strikingly different from the film. Where the movie, for instance, shows Indy facing a Cairo swordsman and wearily dispatching him with his revolver, the comic avoids that moment entirely. Perhaps the illustrators tried the scene and it seemed too violent in print (it's too bad that the omnibus doesn't include an introduction that might have described some of the back story).
After "Raiders," the omnibus continues with "The Further Adventures" series that ran during the 1980s. After the excitement of the Ark but before the Temple of Doom, it seems Indy was just as obsessed with adventure as Fawcett. Here, in this collection, he pursues an elixir of immortal life, a crystal that can turn Stonehenge into a time-traveling portal and plenty of other legendary stuff -- not to mention dealing with Nazi baddies every step of the way.
Some of today's series that draw on myth -- "Rex Mundi," for instance, a dark, heavy offering also from Dark Horse -- could learn something from the plotting and pacing of the people who handled Indy's adventures. John Byrne, Terry Austin, John Buscema, Howard Chaykin and many others created original scenarios while still managing to stay true to the light tone of "Raiders."
"Y'know Jones," Marion says, as the pair venture into the Congo on a search connected to the city of Atlantis, "despite the tsetse flies, the rain, the heat that could melt a Studebaker engine block, this has been kinda nice!"
-- Nick Owchar
Image: Dark Horse Comics