The Comic Book Survivor

If the advertisements leading up to the 2013 release of Tomb Raider are to be believed, Lara Croft is a survivor.  Years of being relegated to a blend of lady-hero badass and video game sex symbol have worn heavy on the virtual explorer.  In spite of exploitative media and rumors of nude codes, Lara has returned in a solid action-adventure game.  Similarly, the recent release of a new comic from Dark Horse has provided her with a rebirth in print media as well.

TombRaider50It was back in 1997 when Lara Croft made her first appearance in comic books, as a cross-over in Tomb Raider/Witchblade #1.  From this initial Top Cow Productions offering, Lara went on to have a comic book run of fifty issues based on the original games from Core Designs.  A glance at a gallery of art from these comics reveals that many of them featured the Lara Croft of the early PlayStation days: top-heavy, scowling-yet-seductive, and often wearing an improbable wardrobe for adventuring.  Just as the latest game took heavy redesigns for the beloved character, the offerings from Dark Horse follow suit with a fresh comic for the British bombshell.

TombRaider2So here we are in 2014 with a new Tomb Raider comic from writer Gail Simone (Batgirl, Deadpool) that picks up some time after the events of the latest game.  Haunted by the horrors she witnessed on the island of Yamatai, Lara has been having nightmares that she fears will break her mind in two.  And it seems she isn’t the only one.  Her roommate and best friend Sam has been experiencing these waking nightmares as well.  Before the two get a chance to hash out the details, Lara is summoned to a desolate valley in North America to help yet another survivor of the Endurance: her Maori crewmate Jonah.  The kindest of the former crew, Jonah has become a paranoid shell of his former self.  He warns Lara that each of the survivors have taken a piece of the island with them, and “he” is coming to claim these items.  Before Lara has a chance to decipher the messages (and help her destructive friend), a massive deluge floods the arid valley, leaving Lara high and wet on the side of a cliff.

TombRaider3The artwork from Nicolas Daniel Selma is a welcome compliment to the new story for Lara Croft.  Clean line work with muted tones provide a realistic setting for the youthful archeologist in the early pages of the comic.  It feels like the color schemes for each page are used to their fullest potential; creating a distinct feeling of climate to each scene.  Every character is well-proportioned, which contributes to the realism that this comic tries to achieve in between the extraordinary circumstances of its cast.

Now for the big question on everyone’s mind: can I read this comic and enjoy it despite an utter lack of playing Tomb Raider?  This writer is confident that Dark Horse’s rebirth of Lara Croft will provide readers with the means to dive right into the story and leave them hungry to play the latest game.  After all, that should be the point of most of these video game adaptations; to encourage new readers to seek out the video games from which epic stories are crafted.

As an aside, two awesome video game-based comics in so many weeks?!  2014 is shaping up to be a good year for players and readers alike, thanks to Dark Horse Comics.

For more bits and pieces on video game comics, be sure to check out Geek Force Network every Monday.  More info can be found here.

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