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‘Tomb Raider Archives Volume 3:’ Advance Hardcover Review

Why do I enjoy the Tomb Raider franchise so much?  I want to say it’s because it reminds me of my grandfather, but it’s really thanks to lessons learned from Lara Croft.  Although, I’m not a fan of Lara in the way that most people are fans of hers, but we’ll get to that…

When I was a kid, my paternal grandparents had more video game systems than I did.  That’s because they often babysat my cousins and me, as well as some of the kids in the neighborhood, and what better way to entertain mostly growing boys than with video games, am I right?  I still remember playing the original Tomb Raider game as a youngling, only to have the screams of my grandfather bellowing behind me, telling me what to do and where to jump as he’s watched my other cousins play on separate occasions.  

In reality, however, I love Tomb Raider for its heroine, Lara Croft.  I want to say that Ms. Croft was the first female hero I can remember growing up, and yet, she was more badass than all of the other heroes I knew.  I mean, in the second level of her original game, she guns down an actual Tyrannosaurus Rex with pistols.  PISTOLS!!!  She can’t fly.  She doesn’t have super-human strength.  But she’s smart.  She solves puzzles to unlock the secrets of the world.  And in this day and age, with “fake news” flying around all over the world wide web, intelligence and wit go a long way.  

Well, luckily for us, there’s a new archive of Tomb Raider comic books by Dark Horse Books.  Tomb Raider Archives Volume 3 is a collection of Tomb Raider #35-#50, originally published between 2003 and 2005 by Top Cow Productions.  Titles from this collection include multiple 2- or 3-part storylines such as “The Black Legion,” “Blood Stones,” “Spirit Walker,” “Tower of Souls,” “Gathering Storm,” and more.   

From her adventures in The Superstition Mountains with Joe Notafraid (Yes, that’s his actual name!) to a brand new discovery at Stonehenge, from lost legends to hidden gold mines, from mythical gods to magical crystals, these stories sure don’t miss a beat in what it truly means to be a Tomb Raider.  Oh, and don’t forget the blood and bullets.  There’s plenty of that, too.  

There’s also definitely a sexy side to these stories that was missing from the more recent Tomb Raider comics I’ve read.  I don’t know if this is good or bad (I’d like to say that this means we’re starting to treat women as people instead of sex objects, but just turn on the news and…nope…), but on more than one occasion, Lara finds herself fighting in her underwear…or sexy lingerie…or her bathing suit.  She even puts on a good birthday suit now and again; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t turned on even as a gay man…

With too many artists and storylines to mention by name, I will say this—each adventure stands perfectly well on its own.  The artwork is more than stunning with the turn of every page, and each new character is well developed, with many “good guys gone bad,” as is to be expected in any Tomb Raider series.  And the one character that never loses herself in each story—regardless of who wrote her or who drew her—is Lara Croft.  With her frequent inner monologues, we always seem to know what Ms. Croft is thinking, getting to know the softer sides of Lara, and ignoring how much clothing she has on at the time.  

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Lara Croft over the years, it’s that regardless of how we make her look—as if any actual explorer would wear as little as she does—she never dies. That always seems to grasp my attention, but not because we need her around for the next film reboot (which is coming in March 2018!), but because she never gives up!  She can dodge a bunch of bullets or get pushed off mountain cliffs, but she still finds a way to keep going.  That’s why Lara Croft always wins, and that’s why most women are stronger than us: because they simply keep on going…

So, here’s to you, Lara Croft, and may your franchise live long and prosper…

(Sorry, wrong franchise…)



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