Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Nicolás Daniel Selma
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: February 26, 2014
Picking up in the wake of the 2013 videogame reboot and its recent next-gen rerelease, Tomb Raider #1 continues the adventures of a young Lara Croft. The action heroine archaeologist is just 21, trying to settle back into normal life after the events of Yamatai Island, but vampiric sun queens and their creepy cults still haunt her. She’s barely had time to process the trauma of the ordeal when one of her fellow survivors reaches out to her, plunging her deep into another perilous adventure.
Croft has spent nearly 20 years among the most enduring and recognizable characters of pop culture, and for good reason. She’s smart and resourceful with iron nerves. It’s evident from this first issue — and considering Gail Simone’s recent runs with Red Sonja and Batgirl — that this incarnation of Lara will not only be rugged as ever, but also complex. This younger adventurer will need to make sense of her new life and booby-trapped escapades if she’s ever going to become the hard-boiled, pistol-wielding explorer we got hooked on in the pixelated PSone days of yore. That journey is the crux of the series, and Simone’s got it nestled right in her pocket. This is a Lara fearing for her own stability, cursed with nightmares and survivor’s guilt. While it’s tempting to cast her as a monolithic force of badassery, it’s refreshing to see her as a daunted human being, too. It’s also wonderful watching her swing that pickaxe.
The art is just as dynamic as the character. Whether his new leading lady is dodging bullets or jumping off cliffs, illustrator Nicolás Daniel Selma keeps the action moving smoothly. One of his more noticeable tactics, though, uses negative white space to define momentum and plot. You’d think an artist would feel compelled to fill the void, but he harnesses this flourish to his advantage. Occasionally, Selma will break Lara free of bordered panels, framing her against stark nothingness, zeroing in on an object or emotional effect.
While the game may be the springboard for the book’s plot, and having played it first would certainly give a fuller appreciation of the story, a visit (or revisit) to your Xbox or Playstation is not absolutely necessary. The fact that the whole narrative looks back at a beloved character’s origins, and is essentially one huge jumping on point, may save Tomb Raider the source material catch-up complaints afflicting other licensed properties, like Serenity. Either way, watching this young, pre-archetypical Lara Croft grow into the immortalized Tomb Raider should be pretty cool, and hopefully better than the movies.