Material based on a franchise from another medium is rarely done right. Before the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was a Captain America movie with exactly one fight scene and no connection to WW2 whatsoever. Half the time when a movie is based on a novel, it fails to live up to the book’s story and characters. And don’t get me started on movies based on video games, or the reverse for that matter. Video Games to comics are no different. While you’ll get the occasional good one like the Mass Effect comics (although they’ve been going downhill lately), there’s plenty of junk. There’s the hilariously bad doom comic, the Super Mario Bros “Comic system”, the wildly stupid Gameboy comics (yes, they exist), Halo Uprising (the interlude between Halo 2 and 3 that finished a year after Halo 3 released) and the dreadful Silent Hill comic series. Thankfully, Tomb Raider 1 is one of the good ones.
Written by Gail Simone, a legendary female comic writer and self-proclaimed avid gamer, Tomb Raider 1 takes place in the aftermath of last year’s reboot. Lara Croft is suffering from survival guilt, opening the comic with a disturbing dream. The rest of the comic introduces the story involving a group of powerful “guardians” with seemingly unimaginable power. The ending action scene is intense, and perfectly fitting for a Tomb Raider story. The plot details are vague enough to keep the mystery alive.
The character work is very good. Each of the survivors are dealing with their trauma in different ways, some better than others. Lara remains strong despite having killed her way to survival, but isn’t without her issues of paranoia. Her narration does a great job at further exploring her mindset and the way her wheels spin. Sam is in denial and Jonah, well … I won’t spoil it.
The art is also very good. Each character is perfectly recognizable from the game, even though I haven’t played it since the month it released (I want to replay it before the sequel releases.) Environmental details include pictures of those who didn’t survive and all sorts of artifacts. Jonah’s trailer is messy and in disrepair, which only helps explore his mindset. The art also helps tell the story, matching Lara’s narration perfectly. There’s one point where she’s reaching for her climbing axe on an acquaintance, but pulls her hand away after further consideration.
Tomb Raider’s new comic series is off to a great start. While it references the game a lot, it’s still easy to understand if you didn’t play it. If you enjoy the games but have never tried a comic before, you should definitely give this a shot. If you’re not into games, Tomb Raider is very similar to Indiana Jones, just with a female lead and in modern times. If that sounds appealing to you, this is an easy recommendation.