I want to share a secret with you about Indiana Jones comics. This is something you may or may not know. Some Indiana Jones comics are really very good. Others are not that great. That shouldn’t be too surprising since the original ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ movie from 1981 had the feel of a comic book adventure come to life, with its many cliff hanger moments and action galore.
The last outing for the franchise, ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Chrystal Skull’ (2008), was nowhere near as good as the first film. In between we’ve had hit and miss movies. As the still to be titled ‘Indiana Jones V’ prepares to film, and with Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford both back on board, I want to take a look here at Indy’s history, not in films but rather- in comic books.
Just like the films they are based on, the Indiana Jones comics can be hit or miss. In its long history as a comic book property, Indy’s adventures have been handled predominantly by Marvel comics and then by Dark Horse until recently when the rights transferred back again to Marvel in 2012 when Disney acquired Lucasfilm.
I doubt it’s possible that there are readers with no idea who Indy is, but for those who have never watched a movie or read a comic about him, the skinny on Indiana Jones is as follows:
Born July 1, 1899 in Princeton, New Jersey as Henry Walton Jones Jr. (taking the name ‘Indiana’ from his dog), Jones learned to love adventure and world travel at a young age after he accompanied his mother and father on a world lecture tour (1908-1910).
Returning to the US, and after the death of his mother, Indy studied linguistics at the University of Chicago under Abner Ravenwood. After this he transferred to Europe living first in France before moving to London to study archaeology. He eventually became a renowned ‘obtainer of rare antiquities’, (actually he’s more of a looter than professional archaeologist). Among his greatest discoveries can be listed: the Sankara Stones, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, and the Crystal Skull of Akator. Basically, Jones is an archaeologist/superhero.
What makes the Indy stories so exciting is the mixture of exploration of exotic and far off locations, the connection to history and the great adventures that unfold in his seeking out (usually) mystical objects. These factors made the movies huge international hits and the spirit of the films was faithfully carried over into the earliest comics published by Marvel.
The Marvel comics featuring Indy are some of the best. The three films ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’, and ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ are all represented by mini-series. The most valuable of these and not likely to be overtaken by another book anytime soon is the very first issue of Raiders of the Lost Ark. This comic currently has a FMV of $85.00 in certified 9.8 grade. It has sold for as high as $179.99 (eBay sale on 11/18/2016) and is not that hard to find. At least not in lower grades. Long term returns have been mixed and over the last three months there have only been 2 copies sold: a 9.6 on eBay on 06/12/2019 for $80.00 and a 9.4 on eBay on 06/12/2019 for$65.00. As in the case of the Marvel Star Wars comics years earlier, the original issues serializing the movie were also published as a special standalone comic called Marvel Movie Spotlight Featuring Raiders of the Lost Ark #1 (Nov. 1982). This comic has sold for as high as $90.00 in 9.8 grade (eBay sale: 12/16/2018).
Marvel also released a standalone series called The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones (1983 – 1986) and most of those issues are also very good. The first two issues of this comic center around the the ‘Ikons of Ikammanen’, which Indy has to find after a former student, named Charlie Dunne, is killed looking for them. Plenty of world travel and intrigue in the Indy style made famous from the movies. This comic can be purchased in pristine 9.8 condition for $50.00. As in the case of the first issue of the Raiders‘ mini-series it has sold for much more; in fact the last eBay sale (on 07/17/2019) went for $75.00. Is this because of the upcoming movie? Hard to say. Again, not a hard comic to find. Keep your eyes open for it.
Finally, this is one of the first, and one of the best, Dark Horse comics featuring Indy. Based on a video game, it tells the story of the discovery of the lost city of Atlantis. This is a great Indy adventure and in 9.8 it will only set you back $32.00. The story has also been reprinted and you can find it in the The Indiana Jones Omnibus, Volume I by Dark Horse. Worth reading if you like Indiana Jones adventures.