Tomb Raider isn’t just a comic title; rather, it’s an institution. It started as a video game franchise, and – in no time at all – it grew into this massive entertainment franchise. While the motion pictures weren’t my cup of tea, I could certainly see the merit in the lovely, luscious character of Lara Croft. She was tough. She had spunk. She was smart. And she knew how to handle herself when the going got tough. It’s no wonder that she survives to mythic proportions even today … though I suspect she might need a bit of a cinematic makeover if this particular version from Gail Simone takes hold in the pop culture.
Wanna know more? Hang on after the break …
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
The way of the true action hero would, Lara Croft has defied the odds: not even a flood of Biblical proportions (and one with plenty of Biblical allegory) could wash her away, and she even manages to save a life in the process. But survival alone isn’t enough as she realizes she has only one piece of a slowly emerging puzzle … one that might spell certain doom for Lara and her friends if she doesn’t act fast!
Ok. Look. I get that for whatever reason Gail Simone and the stewards at Dark Horse Comics felt it was time to go another way with Lara Croft. Essentially, they’ve taken a seminal character of the video game revolution and given her a curious makeover. Gone is Lara’s slick hairstyles only to be replaced with something that occasionally looks like it’s never had a comb run through it. Gone are the tight, revealing t-shirts in favor of out-of-season blouses two sizes too big. Gone are her Daisy Duke shorts and, in their stead, are baggy blue jeans or something that looks like bargain basement brown stirrup pants. I mean … have you seen Lara in the panel at the center-bottom of Page 17? (Note: page numbering can be notoriously different from digital to print versions.) She’s wearing what I’d honestly suspect just came off a homeless person.
At some point, makeovers get ridiculous. I’m laughing, Gail Simone, and I don’t think that’s what you intended.
I get that you wanted to show that an action heroine didn’t need to have D-cups in order to dish out a quality story, but you might want to encourage your creative team to avoid dressing her in the latest Ross sales gear as well. I’ve no problem with taking a character in a bold new direction; I just didn’t realize that meant readers would have to shuffle through page after page of seeing Lara Croft looking like she was dressing in drag. And bad drag, at that.
To my delight, this second issue is a marked improvement in terms of story. The first issue had a respectable amount of action, but it wasn’t all that interesting, nor did the pacing feel right. This time out, Lara gets from Point A to Point B with a noticeable increase in intrigue: the mythology elements are in place, and there’s even an Asian-looking baddie showing up threatening to kill people at a moment’s notice. You get an A for improvement in that department, but the constant affinity for drabness is now starting to smother what could be an otherwise interesting adventure in the life of every fanboy’s favorite shapely adventurer.
At this point, I can’t imagine this title sinking any lower.
TOMB RAIDER #2 is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Gail Simone; the pencils are drawn by Nicolas Daniel Selma; the inks are supplied by Juan Gedeon; the colors have been filled in by Michael Atiyeh; and the lettering is done by Michael Heisler. The issue bears the cover price of $3.50, and – despite the underwhelming nature of it all – that’s still a fair price to pay for the quality of what’s packed between the covers.
RECOMMENDED. It isn’t as if I’m not enjoying this TOMB RAIDER reboot. Author Gail Simone’s script is interesting enough, and the story certainly contains some of the elements one could expect from characters in such a tale (i.e. action, adventure, intrigue, international players, ancient mythology, etc.). It’s just that so much of it is poorly presented from the art team of Selma, Gedeon, and Atiyeh (mentioned above). There’s no spark of magic. There’s no thrill of the chase. As a consequence, Lara Croft feels more like ‘Plain Jane’ in this artistically tepid makeover.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital reading copy of TOMB RAIDER #2 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.