Comic Review: Tomb Raider Vol. 3&4 (Dark Horse)

Simone does quality work. All of the dialogue flows, but the true strength in her writing comes from her situational evolution. Everything just clicks. Normally this kind of writing creates […]

Simone does quality work. All of the dialogue flows, but the true strength in her writing comes from her situational evolution. Everything just clicks. Normally this kind of writing creates a sense of fabrication, but thanks to Simone’s understanding of Lara and her vested interest in glorifying the character, Lara comes off as being intelligent and resourceful as she navigates through an unfamiliar setting. Despite the hyper stylization, it still fits her character as she makes practical, yet bold, decisions using her environment and wits. Lara is very adaTomb Raider 3 Panel 1ptive; it’s the major contributing factor to her survival, which in turn is an incredibly important part of her character. And this volume is all about survival. It fits the tone of the game perfectly as Lara falls from one over her head situation to the next and has to come up with effective ways to escape, that Gail Simone has made incredibly entertaining as well. The other positive aspect that stands out of this particular part of Lara’s story is that it’s not just Lara’s story. We finally get some background in to one of the side characters and how her struggle has aligned with Lara’s. It’s very interesting to see how the character of Reyes came from where she was before to where she is now, and how that journey has formed the opinion that she has of Lara.

There’s not nearly as much inner monologue this time with Lara taking more action than just talking. All in all, it continues the story of the last volume effectively, stays consistently entertaining, and improves our perception of the characters with a better rounded look at someone besides Lara. Of course the usual problem with Simone’s writing is ever present as she writes women as people, and men as men. Most of the negative tropes around male characters are shamelessly on display, but it’s sort of a mainstay if you’re getting in to a story with a strong female protagonist. Regardless, Tomb Raider Volume 3 is the most entertaining of the installments thus far. And despite this minor gripe it’s a great story; if you’re a fan of the reboot. The plot is simple and easy to follow, but is bolstered by clever writing and character driven moments with substance.  The layout of scenes that are supposed to be significant still come off as trivial at times, but the overall look of the series is sufficiently conveyed.  Selma’s characters and action are easy to follow and distinctive, but on the angles lack drama. Howeverm the story is currently in a more narratTomb Raider 3 Panel 2ive focus, and Simone understands what tone the reboot of Tomb Raider was supposed to have and has maintained it since Lara’s first outing in this new comic series. Volume 3 has this tone pitch perfect compared to the previous installments. Despite the change in scenery, the fact remains that Lara kicks total ass.

 

But that’s not all folks!

Volume 4 has an abrupt and almost jarring change in tone when Lara Croft is recast as LIAM NEESON! …Not really, but her sudden change from in over her head, to a hard-ass hunter killer on a quest for revenge after the kidnapping of a loved one…
You know, come to think of it, I doubt I would have even noticed if they started suddenly drawing Liam Neeson in Lara Croft’s place.Tomb Raider Panel 3

Alright, all joking aside, Volume 4 of the 2014 Tomb Raider series continues to trend of clever writing, but the situations take a dip when the events shaping Lara’s story get a little bit too…videogamey (IRONY!). Things need to keep happening in a video game since it’s an interactive medium and the player always needs to be in a position to affect a change in situation or the environment. In most video games, the best way to present a situatTomb Raider 4 Panel 1ion that’s out of hand that the player character would have to deal with is to remove anyone or anything that could prevent it prior to setting off the plot device. LARA GOES TO SLEEP! It’s a cliché in video games to put the main character out of commission to give the player an exciting and dramatic situation to interact with, but in a comic it’s just too obvious. I’m getting ahead of myself though. On the road to this particular plot device, the story seemed to be getting enough idle time for there to be some development in the characters (*cough* I mean Lara! *cough*). Lara gets to really show off her book smarts this time by commenting on every academic moment with a significant command of knowledge. We really get the impression from her mindset that despite all of her woes associated with her intellect, she really has a passion for her area of study. It’s a part of her character that can’t be shut off that increases the perception of her personality.

Her inner monologue here actually does something positive for the story by informing us of things about the world that we didn’t know before, and had no other way of gleaning. It’s a better use of these bits of dialogue to give the reader a more complete picture of the world that Lara lives in, and how she perceives it. Sam comes across as a more complete character this time around as well, by exhibiting defiance and confidence in the face of her dire situation. It’s not “been there, done that” exactly, but you can tell that before her ordeal on Yamatai before, she would have been a lot more affected. It’s a natural progression that doesn’t get enough time to develop, unfortunately. Lara’s “preparation” was a bit much, and her boat escape was severely lacking in both drama and believability, but Volume 4 works as a jumping off point to the more action packed part of the story. My only hope for the series isTomb Raider 4 Panel 2 that Selma picks up his game for this next leg. The art is great, but the scenes lack the dynamic angles necessary to pull you in to the action. And trust me, when Lara is on the warpath, you’ll want to be pulled in to the action.

 

 

-PS

 

Links

http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/22-840/Tomb-Raider-3

http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/22-841/Tomb-Raider-4

http://www.tombraider.com/us/base/agegate?refer=184&

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