With Alicia Vikander’s (Ex Machina, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Danish Girl) Lara Croft expected to hit theaters in a matter of weeks, Dark Horse Comics has also taken this opportunity to salivate our reading palettes with a collection of Tomb Raider stories from 2014.
The last time I wrote a review for a collection of Tomb Raider comics, I recalled the importance of Mrs. Croft’s character and what she meant to me. Lara is a powerful heroine who remains constant throughout her 25 years in gaming, film, and illustration, and Tomb Raider: Library Edition, Volume 1 starts exactly where any good comic book collection should start: “The Beginning.” (An issue that apparently has never been collected until now.)
So, where was Lara in the beginning, before the release of her 2013 video game? It appears she was helping Dr. James Whitman film a live expedition for the Lost Kingdom of Yamatai. Kudos to script writer Rhianna Pratchett for including Sam and Jonah in Lara’s journey right from the very beginning. If there’s another thing that’s kept Croft constant over the years, it’s her friendships.
With 19 issues in this entire library of comic books, it’s tough to mention every team member by name, but Gail Simone appears to take over as script writer for many single issues before both she and Rhianna Pratchett join forces again for “In Memoriam.” Gail tells a fantastic tale, as she takes Lara and her friends on a journey they’ll most certainly never forget. The Island of Yamatai clearly changes their lives forever, especially for Lara’s girlfriend, Sam.
When I first started reviewing Tomb Raider comics from Dark Horse—it was February 2016—I must have picked up right where these stories left off. I remember Lara having to help save her friend Sam by learning more about The Sun Queen, which seemed to have possessed Sam at some point during the stories in this collection, so it’s nice to see “how it all began.”
The latter issues in these comic books seem to deal with Lara’s ever-growing enemy, Trinity. Who’s behind this evil organization? What does Trinity want? And how are they always so close behind Mrs. Croft’s trail? Or sometimes, even steps ahead? All of these questions and more are the main focus of Lara’s latter stories in this collection.
What I think I enjoyed most about these comic books in particular, however, is how Lara was portrayed. The character of Lara Croft has always been one with a “sexy side,” so to speak. Lara is the epitome of a gaming character with a sexy physique, as even portrayed in her first game when she wore nothing but short shorts and a tight tank top.
But the artists in these issues—in particular Nicolas Daniel Selma, Juan Gedeon, Derlis Santacruz, Andy Owens, and colors by Michael Atiyeh—rarely showed Lara in clothing less flattering than jeans and a t-shirt. I applaud these artists for making a difference and showing us that women don’t have to "look sexy" in order to be sexy! The fact that Lara Croft can solve any mystery shows us that she’s smart. Intelligence has always been sexier than looks in my book, and that’s coming from a gay guy.
I also enjoy the relationships developed between Lara and her friends within these 19 issues. Friendships are the keys to life’s journey, and Mrs. Croft certainly couldn’t have gotten by without hers. Her relationship with Jonah is both loving, yet mysterious. Are they lovers? Are they just friends? And her dedication to Sam is also a true testament to what true friendship looks like.
At the end of this collection, Dark Horse has also collected all of the cover art from each of these 19 issues and put them together so that readers can enjoy each image on their own, without titles and other miscellaneous text. I think this is a great idea, as it values those artists many of us don’t realize are usually different than the interior comic book artists themselves. Many of my favorites are those drawn by Andy Park, as he has a unique talent for capturing both sunlight and shadows.
For those of us rushing to see the new Tomb Raider in theaters on March 16th, I highly recommend catching up on some of Lara’s beginnings in Dark Horse’s Tomb Raider: Library Collection, Volume 1.
Creative Team: Gail Simone (writer), Rhianna Pratchett (writer), Nicolas Daniel Selma (penciller), Derlis Santacruz (penciller), Andrea Mutti (penciller), Juan Gedeon (inker), Andy Owens (inker), Pierluigi Baldassini (inker)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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