Marvel Comics Adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Aren’t comic books wonderful little inventions? Through a combination of words and pictures, readers can relive hit movies and bestselling novels, or delve into previously uncharted territory. Advances in technology lend new dimensions to the artwork, but prices have gone up a bit, as well (people used to be able to get a whole book for a dime, but that was way before my time).
The focus of today’s discussion will be the comic book rendition of Raiders of the Lost Ark, released by Marvel. I was sorting through an old box of comics and I stumbled upon this little three-issue gem from 1981. I suppose the title is now somewhat inaccurate, since the movie was renamed Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (can’t George Lucas ever just leave things alone?). The movie is divided into three separate issues. Issue #1 ends just when Nazi henchman Toht is about to interrogate Indy’s part-time girlfriend, Marion Ravenwood, with a red hot poker tip. Issue #2 ends just as Marion is thrown into the Well of Souls by Toht, where she falls thirty feet (you can see a theme developing here). Issue #3 ends where the movie ends (thankfully, Marion is no longer in danger by Toht — if you remember from the movie, Toht does an ice cream sandwich melting on a hot sidewalk impression as the Ark fries him. Toht’s comic book death is less spectacular, as will be explained below).
For the most part, the comic books remain quite true to the actual movie plot, but there are a few slight discrepancies. Here are a few that caught my attention:
- At the beginning of Indy’s adventure, when he loses the Chachapoyan golden idol to his arch rival Renè Belloq, he then (as in the movie) makes a run for it from a tribe of angry natives, but the comic book leaves out the scene where Indy has to swim to the seaplane piloted by his friend Jock Lindsey, as well as the brief, but terrifying encounter with Reggie (Jock’s pet snake).
- No turbaned swordsman during the Cairo fight scene (how does the comic book leave THIS out — one of the best scenes in moviedom ever. Kenner even made an action figure of the swordsman for crying out loud, and Spielberg parodied the scene in the Temple of Doom sequel).
- Much later in the adventure, we find Indy and Marion trying to sabotage the Nazi plans to load the Ark aboard a Flying Wing. Here is another point at where the book and movie differ. In the movie, we see Indy get beat half to death by a muscle-bound plane mechanic, but in the book, the mechanic gets clubbed over the head from behind by Marion, with a wrench. (she actually knocks out the pilot of the Flying Wing in the movie). Just before blacking out (in the comic book), the mechanic fires a gun at Indy, which manages to clip the gas tank of the Flying Wing, and BOOM!! In the movie, it’s a gasoline leak from a separate vehicle that accounts of the Flying Wing’s doom.
- In the scene where Indy fights off a whole infantry of soldiers to take command of a supply truck (with the Ark onboard), we see in both the movie and comic book, a transport car with German soldiers aboard go over the edge of a cliff. In the comic book, Toht, the guy who keeps almost killing Marion, was one of the car’s unlucky passengers, but in the movie, he’s one of the even unluckier guys who looks inside the Ark, only to have the flesh melt from his bones by supernatural forces (my very favorite movie death scene).
It’s not uncommon to see creative liberties taken by folks who are charged with recreating an original story, but, for the most part, the comic book rendition of Raiders of the Lost Ark is quite true to its source material. Even though some key movie elements are MIA, this comic book adaptation is still a classic, and gets two nerdly thumbs up.