Tomb Raider #1 comic review

Available right now in-store and online is the first issue of the new Tomb Raider comic. And all in all, it’s a solid start for a series intended to bridge the gap between the 2013 video game reboot and its top secret next-gen sequel.

Published by Dark Horse, this is the first comic book to centre on globe-trotting, gun-toting archaeologist Lara Croft since the Top Cow series concluded with its fiftieth issue back in 2005. In a coup for the new series, it’s written by Gail Simone, arguably the most important female comic writer of the past decade or so. Simone has won much love from readers and critics for her nuanced treatment of heroines like Batgirl, Wonder Woman and, most recently Red Sonja – rescuing all these icons from vapid sex kittendom. For the record, Simone has ever so briefly touched on Lara Croft before, having scripted the Pre-Teen Raider animated short.

For the first arc of the Tomb Raider comic, Simone is joined by penciller Nicolas Daniel Selma – who also drew the first half of last year’s video game tie-in. Juan Gedeon inks.

Without giving too much away (Alright, it does scream Survivor’s Guilt! on the cover), the first Tomb Raider storyline deals with the aftermath of the disastrous Yamatai expedition. Twenty one year old Lara Croft is having nightmares about the island. So too is her best friend, documentary-maker Samantha Nishamura… although surprisingly it’s Lara who is holding it together while maybe-roommate Sam is in denial about her post-traumatic stress. Later on in Issue #1, Lara rushes to the aid of another expedition survivor whose mind seems to have cracked. Or could their irrational behaviour be justified after all? This is Tomb Raider though – so what do you think?

American Simone does alright in terms of inserting British-isms. Soothing cups of tea, Jaffa Cakes and “Bugger!” all make an appearance. This said, my personal highlight of the issue is Lara’s icy interaction with a yokel when she ends up in the arid US Southwest.

Lara may be exceptionally kind-hearted towards her friends but the shy, trusting girl met at the beginning of the 2013 game is definitely in transition. She’s clearly already on track to becoming more like “Classic Lara”, the snarky adventurer of the original Eidos-Core Tomb Raider games – who doesn’t suffer fools at all. In Tomb Raider #1, when her driver dismisses her as a pretty but ill-prepared trust fund baby, Lara is quick to put him in his place. Simone’s Lara isn’t above a little well-timed intimidation, typically in the form of flashing her climbing axe, which seems to have become her new never-leave-home-without-it accessory.

There are a few gripes to be made about the new comic. While his work on globetrotting backgrounds is excellent, and he depicts action crisply and coherently, Selma’s facial expressions can sometimes jar with the moment depicted. For example, after hearing her friend scream herself awake in the middle of the night, why would Lara be grinning over biscuits two panels later?

And that’s another thing: some of the character interactions don’t ring true. Even if Sam didn’t want to talk, surely Lara’s brush with the supernatural (no matter how fleeting to date) would mean she’d push the issue when her companion wakes with a hand-shaped bruise on her forearm? As per the 2013 game, this Lara doesn’t come across as the smartest take on the character. The reader typically connects the dots a lot faster than she ever does. Then again, perhaps I’m expecting too much of the character so early on in her career.

Either way, as of Issue #1, Tomb Raider: The Comic seems to be less about character and more about action. But this, of course, is a complaint that can be made about most mainstream comics of recent years.

Still, I intend to stick along for the ride. Drawing Lara’s adventure out over just 24 pages a month is frustrating, but I want to see if she is finally forced to make the sacrifice that was so frequently mentioned in the 2013 game but which never actually materialised.

Issue #2 of Tomb Raider, subtitled The Four Guardians, is out on 26 March.


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