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Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Yesterday I bought a copy of Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide. I've long been a fan of DK Publishing's Star Wars books, which have been in the format of visual dictionaries and beautifully illustrated cutaways of locations and vehicles in the Star Wars saga.

Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide continues DK's tradition in providing lush eye candy and detailed information, this time about a certain globe-trotting archaeologist. Written by James Luceno (who has been praised on this blog numerous times for his Star Wars work), the book covers most of the span of what we know about the life and times of Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr, beginning with the birth of his father in Scotland in 1872. Indy himself is born in 1899 and considerable space is devoted to his early exploits (which were documented in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series). The book pics up the pace with the events of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1935, on through Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, while also covering material that was introduced in various novels, comics and video games. And being that this is the season of (finally!) a new Indiana Jones movie, it's only fitting that there is sumptuous information regarding Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, including more about Mac, Mutt, and Spalko. The book concludes with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Indiana Jones movies, and some of the merchandise and marketing that has been done for the franchise over the years.

This book is going to be one that I will certainly appreciate having on my shelf for many years to come. However, it's not absolutely complete in my opinion. There is nothing at all about "Older Indy", the 93-year old version played by George Hall in the bookends for ABC's original run of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. In addition to how those aren't in the DVD sets and haven't been shown in the occasional reruns on television for some time, it's enough to make me wonder if George Lucas now considers those not "canon". Which would be a darn tragedy 'cuz the bookends with George Hall as Indy were awesome! And strangely, the events of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, considered by many to be the finest Indiana Jones video game ever and one of the best of the entire graphic adventure genre, are not mentioned at all (although Sophia Hapgood is referenced, as is the Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine game).

But in light of what else is in this book, Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide is still a must-have for fans of Indy. I particularly enjoy the cut-away illustrations for the buried city of Tanis, Pankot Palace and the Thuggee mines, and the Grail Temple (along with the catacombs beneath Venice: it turns out that St. Mark is buried down there too).

I was expecting nothing but goodness to come from Luceno and DK with their treatment of the Indiana Jones saga, and they have certainly delivered fortune and glory with Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide. Heartily recommended!