Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Philip Sevy, Michael Atiyeh
Release Date: 17th February, 2016
Acting as a sequel to the events of the recently released Rise of the Tomb Raider game, this latest adventure featuring everyone’s favourite kick-ass lady archaeologist centres on a mushroom (?) from ancient Chinese legend that grants immortality to those who consume it.
The issue opens with some promise, and we see a frantic and injured Lara attempting to find her bearings in what looks like a cavern. We quickly segue into the past where the story’s central object is surreptitiously introduced, before a neat twist on the blind martial arts master (or in this case, mistress) trope is employed to explain where Lara acquired the skills we see her attempting to use in the opening sequence.
The problems soon begin to mount up, though, and for me the biggest hurdle is the core element of the story: the mushroom of immortality. Mariko Tamaki’s choice of MacGuffin doesn’t quite have the lustre of a sacred amulet, a jewel encrusted sword, or a solid gold golem, and I quickly found myself disengaged from the story. My attempted reconnection was made difficult when an apparent reworking of the zombie trope was also added to the mix at the issue’s conclusion.
My secondary concern is with the introduction of a mostly superfluous – at least at this juncture – supporting cast, many of whom perform no real function within the plot. I can only assume that Lara’s companion for the majority of the issue is an important character from the game, but as his name is never mentioned, it’s the best I have.
Joelle Jones’ stunning variant cover and Michael Atiyeh’s subtly textured, realistic colours are on-point, and help elevate things on the art front; however, the interior work is not without its problems. Philip Sevy’s Lara is rendered as you would expect, as strong, svelte, and beautiful, and his general character work is very good. His backgrounds and environments, too, are solid throughout, and the use of circular panels to symbolise hearing is a nice touch. However, some of his storytelling is a little too obvious at times, and there are certain panels that do not quite communicate the tone of the dialogue. Action sequences are problematic too, with confusing compositional choices and actions making scene geography and panel flow awkward, leading to further breaks from the narrative flow.
As an almost life-long gamer, I find it sad that there haven’t been many successful video game tie-in comics, and unfortunately this opening issue has done little to redress that. It is early days, though, and thus plenty of time for the series to improve, but at the moment, its flaws outweigh its strengths.
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The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
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