God of Comics – Tomb Raider: Survivors’ Crusade #2
Tomb Raider: Survivors’ Crusade #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
It’s another Tomb Raider comic, but that’s not a denigrating statement. Since the video game reboot, the comics have seen some talented writers hop on board – Gail Simone to start, video game writer Rihanna Pratchett to follow, and now Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly.
If you’re not familiar with the latter two, they’re the mind responsible for Hacktivist volumes one and two, collectively one of the best comics published in the last five years. That tale was full of character and consequence set in a world where corporate types and their bought politicians are trying to strangle the freedom the internet represents, and those that are trying to protect the internet from them. It also showed the dangers of hacking, and what happens when morality is subsumed in favor of an ideal.
What I mean to say is that they’re very good at subtle and nuanced character development, and they bring that same sensibility to Tomb Raider and it works perfectly.
Pre-reboot, video game Lara Croft was an overly confident stealer of relics, a holdover from colonialism mingled with Indiana Jones overtones. The first couple games were amazing and saw diminishing returns in quality and spent whatever goodwill they might have once had. The comics, likewise, were more of the same and not very good, a cross-media attempt that lacked soul or depth.
The reboot, however… the reboot gave us a very different and very human Lara Croft, a young woman put into dangerous circumstances and forced to adapt or die. It was an excellent game with an even better sequel, both rich as rich in mythology and world building as their prior iteration but much more involved. The subsequent comics were announced to tie-in to the video game storyline and are this considered canon, and we’ve learned a lot from them (like the final fate of series favorite Sam Nakamura).
One of the constants in the reboots is Lara’s friendships, most notably her friendship with Jonah Maiava. Jonah’s put up with a lot from Miss Croft, and last issue she took him to Thailand and then abandoned him, not letting him know if she were alive or dead or what had happened to her; this issue deals with the fallout of that.
It’s emotionally compelling because the Lara in this story could be seen as emotionally damaged and traumatized; Jonah sees her that way but knows that she is capable and intelligent and driven. How do you help a friend with those qualities that keeps throwing themselves into danger? Yes, Lara has survived until now, but her combination of luck and skill should give way to fatigue and chance eventually. He’s torn, wanting to stand by his friend, hurt by her casual abandonment and worried about her well-being.
Balancing this sort of complexity is a difficult job, but that complexity is where Lanzing and Kelly live and thrive. Ashley Wood’s clean lines and nuanced expression play well with Michael Atiyeh’s incredible use of color, bringing the whole thing to beautiful life. If you ever liked anything Tomb Raider and wanted to see the characters explored in depth, this is your comic.