Apparently, there were more debuting comics this week than Doomsday Clock. Problem is most debuts this week were forgettable at best. Take Dark Horse Comics latest video game adaptation for example cause we sure are. In a week of weird Vertigo titles and independent comics, we’re going tomb raiding for a Thanksgiving edition of ONE OR DONE reviews.
TOMB RAIDER SURVIVOR’S CRUSADE #1
Story: Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly
Art: Ashley A. Woods
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Based on the video game adventures of Square Enix’s Tomb Raider series. Tomb Raider Survivor’s Crusade continues the story of 2015’s award-winning game Rise of the Tomb Raider and the previous Dark Horse book. Laura Croft, the female blend of Indiana Jones and 007 is on a mission to track down her nemesis, shadow group Trinity, in order to uncover the truth about her father’s death. Issue one of this limited series sees Laura go spelunking in the caverns of an underground chapel in Italy. In an action packed few pages, Laura will have to battle her way out using her guile and a DIY bow-and-arrow (that I’m still not 100 percent sure where it came from).
Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly pen a script that relies heavily on action to earn the attention of the reader. Soo much so that it forgets to be welcoming to new readers and rationalize anything going on in these pages. Someone coming into this series never having read the previous one or played the game will be quite lost. You’re barely told about her dead father and just have to accept there is a big deal about the reason Laura needs to know why this cabal killed him. She’s a different character from a vengeance-fueled lad like The Punisher, but as an audience, we need some reasoning about her not becoming a female Charles Bronson and simply murdering everyone involved. If this was a tomb she raided for treasure or needed to stop this group from obtaining an ancient weapon it would make sense. Honestly, on the surface, she just looks like an as***le; skewering dudes simply trying to get rich. By the final page, she doesn’t even take the shiny treasure that, if it were a video game, would obviously lead to an in-game unlockable. There are some tidbits of decent character work as the entire issue is narrated by a voice mail she’s trying to leave someone, we’re to assume is special to her. However, when Laura does speak her dialogue can best be described as by the numbers or lacking punch.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the stumbles in the art of Ashley A. Woods. Her previous work on the Boom! series Ladycastle was a fantastic vision of fantasy. One I couldn’t speak highly enough of. In contrast, the artist’s work on this Tomb Raider premiere leaves much to be desired and shows limitations. While panel layouts are solid, the action inside is where the story loses traction. Early pages have proper emotion to the little our title character is doing but when it comes time to ramp up the action everything simply falls apart. In one page, we see Laura crafting an explosive and quite frankly she looks bored. Even in key panels of her fight she almost comes off as annoyed rather than having conviction. Another twelve-panel fight sequence feels a bit more pro-wrestling than high stakes life-or-death. Something which could have been improved with a bit more brutality to each blow rather than showing a second after its landed. Woods is still relatively new to the bigger stage comics and with a bit more direction from editorial, could be great on this series.
Dark Horse has produced some good books out of the Tomb Raider license which gives readers expectations for anything with that name on the cover. This one just faulters on multiple levels. Survivor’s Crusade is a book where art and writing don’t voltron into a big beautiful mech of a story.
[DONE] Tomb Raider Survivor’s Crusade is more in line with the pre- Rise games than its modern generation incarnation.
Here’s the rest of this week’s #1’s
- DEMON HELL IS EARTH #1 (DC)
- DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 (DC)
- IMAGINARY FIENDS #1 (DC/Vertigo)
- VOID TRIP #1 (IMAGE)
- APOCALYPSE GIRL #1 (AMIGO COMICS)
- BETTY AND VERONICA VIXENS #1 (ARCHIE COMICS)
- DR RADAR (STATIX) #1 (TITAN)
- FORLORN FUNNIES #1 (FANTAGRAPHICS)
- MAXWELLS DEMONS #1 (VAULT COMICS)
- VILLAIN #1 (RED GIANT)