Overview

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Credits

  • Words: George Lucas, David Koepp, & John Jackson Miller
  • Art: Luke Ross
  • Inks: Fabio Laguna
  • Colors: Dan Jackson
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $5.99
  • Release Date: May 21, 2008

Hat? Check. Bullwhip? Check. Ancient artifacts with deadly secrets and bad guys out to get them? Check. Just another day for Indiana Jones.

When dealing with comic book adaptations of other media it is never easy for the writer. In this case John Jackson Miller is given the difficult task of adapting a screenplay by David Koepp which in turn was written from ideas by George Lucas. Miller has taken a two hour plus movie and condensed it down to a 56 page, well, I’m going to call it a graphic novel rather than a comic. The question is, how good of a job does Miller do?

It is 1957 America and the years have worn on intrepid archaeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones. Still, the bad guys just won’t leave him alone. With the Nazis long gone Indy finds himself kidnapped by a new group of villains – Russian agents after an artifact he recently uncovered. From there it is a race and chase and series of narrow escapes as Indy discovered two people from his past have fallen into peril courtesy of the Russians. With young "Mutt" Williams at his side, Indy must uncover the secret of the Crystal Skull, save his friends, and prevent the deadly agent Irina Spalko from getting her hands of a power that could control humanity.

The story itself is interesting as it contains many references to Indy’s past and acknowledges the passage of time. In addition to changing the villains from Nazis to Communists, there are noticeable changes in Indy’s world. Old friends are gone, the world is a different, and more suspicious, place and our intrepid hero is being pushed into the atomic future. There are some great bits of dialogue from screenwriter Koepp that acknowledge this passage of past to future as well as just being witty as all get-out. The thing is the Indiana Jones series of movies have always been long on action and set pieces and short on long dialogue scenes and it is in translating the action pieces that the comic falls down.

Obviously, in trying to fit the over two hour movie into a graphic novel, some things had to be cut and Miller largely chooses to skimp on the action. What is probably a wild ride on a rocket sled in the movie happens between panels in the comic. Another bit, a car-motorcycle chase between Russian agents, Mutt and Indy, which I imagine covers several minutes in the film, is reduced to three panels in the comic and the dynamism is lost.

Artist Luke Ross is well known for his realistic-influenced style and he gets a chance to go a bit wild here with both suburban locations and exotic ones. Ross also has a particular talent for celebrity likeness and that is on display here as he accurately hits the older Harrison Ford in this grizzled Indy and the young Shia LaBeouf in the impetuous Mutt among others. Ross can also well handle the size and scope of the more impressive settings but the action sequences still lack a sense of urgency that cannot solely be chalked up to a chopped up script.

In the end, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has a few too many strikes again it. Miller has chopped off a lot of the action which cannot be balanced out by the sparkling dialogue and swift turns of fate. With the $5.99 price tag readers are better off saving their money for a movie ticket.

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