After a somewhat disappointing first story arc, Dark Horse Comics’ Tomb Raider comic series kicked off a brand new story arc in August 2014 with Tomb Raider #7.
Co-written by comic writer Gail Simone and acclaimed game writer and long-time Tomb Raider afficionada Rhianna Pratchett, “Losing Her Grip!” (or is it “In Memoriam”?) is the first part of a new story arc that promises a return to the globe-trotting adventures of yesteryear.
I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of the reboot game or of the new, more “human” Lara Croft so my opinion of the Dark Horse comic series is certainly tainted by personal bias. Aside from Roth, I didn’t particularly care for any of the Endurance crew or Lara’s friends (especially Sam) so my heart sank when I saw Reyes on the cover and the word “Yamatai” in the synopsis. The cynic in me wondered if the ones losing their grip were Crystal Dynamics and their writing team. Will Lara ever leave Yamatai behind? And will she ever stop falling off cliffs?
At this point, I’d like to warn readers that there are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read Tomb Raider #7 yet, look away now.😉
Lara and Reyes are hiking in Snowdonia, Wales, to pay homage to the late Conrad Roth when Alex, one of the deceased members of the Endurance crew, appears to Lara in a vision, begging Lara to save “her” (who turns out to be Kaz, Alex’s sister) and generally creeping out Lara (and the reader). Lara, who is visibly freaked out by the whole incident, almost tumbles off the edge of a cliff and is saved from certain death by Reyes.
Meanwhile, we find out that Sinister Organization of the Month (in this case, Trinity) is looking for a woman, possibly Kaz, in Reykjavik, Iceland. Still struggling to come to terms with her crewmate’s death, Lara calls up Alex’s mother and finds out that Kaz might be in Ukraine. Spurred on by a need to respect her dead friend’s wishes, Lara heads to Ukraine, sneaks past a manned checkpoint, and makes her way to Pripyat, the abandoned and derelict city that once housed the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and their families before the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. But she’s not alone and someone is out to stop her from finding Alex’s sister…
Things I Liked:
- The artwork - The artwork in this comic is lightyears better than that of the first story arc. Derlis Santacruz has done an amazing job of illustrating the action scenes and infusing Lara with the sass and bad-ass attitude we’ve come to expect from Ms Croft. Some scenes wouldn’t have looked out of place in the old Top Cow series. More of this, please!
- The nod to Core Design’s Lara - I know Crystal Dynamics is quite adamant about reinventing Lara for the 21st century but the outfit that Lara’s wearing in the flashback scenes looks remarkably similar to the outfit Young Lara wore in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and Chronicles, doesn’t it? I thought it was a nice touch, a reminder that our old Lara hasn’t been completely forgotten.
- Breaking into Pripyat - This was by far my favourite part of the comic. The Lara we see is resourceful, deadly, and a little snarky. She seems far more sure of herself than she did in the game or in the comic’s first few issues and she’s left the bow and arrows at home. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to “classic” Tomb Raider in the reboot franchise so far. Well, bar the young Lara outfit mentioned above.😉
Things I Disliked:
- More sinister organizations - OK, I know Trinity were mentioned on a couple of occasions in Tomb Raider 2013 and it’s clear that they’re going to be playing a role in the next game…but a bit more background would have been nice. Are they looking for Kaz or for some other woman? And who the heck is “Lucya”? It could just be down to the nature of storytelling in comics (after all, the writers need to build up suspense and get us to buy the next issue) but it’s all becoming a little repetitive at this point. Solarii, Solarii worshippers, and now Trinity. After the last story arc, I feel I’ve already had my share of sinister cults and secret organizations. And it seems I’m not the only one…
- The Endurance crew - Urgh. Just urgh. Can we please ditch Reyes and Sam before Rise of the Tomb Raider is out? Or is Lara condemned to spend the rest of her tomb-raiding career just rescuing her friends (or their estranged relatives) and dealing with survivor’s guilt? I don’t begrudge the girl a few friends and can understand that she needs time to deal with what happened on Yamatai but I do miss the old, confident lone wolf adventurer. At least the lone wolf makes an appearance in the latter half of the comic, breaking into restricted areas and sneaking about without Sam and the rest of the gang tagging along.
- Tombs? What tombs? - For a series called “Tomb Raider”, there really is a distinct lack of tombs, or indeed anything ancient, in this issue. Judging from the synposes for upcoming comics, I’m guessing this won’t be a problem for much longer but I’m really beginning to pine for the old comics and games. I miss the MacGuffins and booby-trapped tombs. Sigh…
To sum it all up, Tomb Raider #7’s an improvement on the previous story arc and am glad to see that we’re slowly moving on from Yamatai and Himiko but I do miss the light-hearted nature and beautiful artwork of the Top Cow comics. I’d also love to see an end to stories involving the Endurance crew, especially those which see Lara rescuing people from generic evil organizations. Lara is meant to be an adventurer and archaeologist, not a one-woman A-Team. If I could sum up this issue in one word, that word would probably be “meh”. Let’s see what issue #8 holds in store for us.
Do you prefer your reviews in haiku form? Stella’s got you covered…
@TRArchaeology Yay! We've got some guns! Oh shit! Another bear trap! I'm tired of Reyes.—
Stellalune (@stellalune) September 21, 2014
Have you read Tomb Raider #7? What did you think of it? And am I being unnecessarily harsh? Leave your comments below!
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