(This scene not featured in the comic)
Hey you know what I love; stereotypes, who doesn’t love some stupid, lowest common denominator stereotypes. I also love jumbled chase sequences with no sense of geography, terrible pacing, constant meaningless intercutting that deflates the tension, with a peppering of dull flaccid action like sprinkles. I didn’t actually mean any of that, those things are all terrible but if you actually like them boy you’re gonna love Tomb Raider #3. For those in my audience who weren’t marooned on an island for the last few decades, whether by crashed boat, superhero origin story, or contrived stupidity that lands you a job making god awful Star Trek movies let’s talk Tomb Raider recap. The Tomb Raider video game series is arguably one of the most successful game franchises there is and with the possible exception of Samus in Metroid it’s protagonist Lara Croft is the biggest female protagonist in gaming, thanks in no small part to having the biggest…talents…in gaming (I like that I was perfectly fine saying Boobage in the Conan The Avenger review yesterday, I’m all about consistency.)
In any event the Tomb Raider games eventually settled into something of a lull during the last console generation after newcomers like Uncharted did a lot to surplant its place on the thrown of action adventure on the novelty of a protagonist with D-cups had sufficiently worn away. As such in 2013 the series saw a reboot with Tomb Raider (hope that’s not confusing) meant to ground the series in the modern era of gritty realism while also working to give Lara Croft more of a personality beyond her mommy zeppelins.
Though not an immediate hit the game actually ended up quite a success through sleeper sales helping to re-cement Lara Croft as a viable brand, thus leading to this comic by super star writer Gail Simone, one of the most beloved women working in comic books today. With a collaboration like that it’s not surprising that this comic has been awful. The series has taken great pains to undo any character development Lara received during the plot of the reboot game while also penning a narrative that is wholly contingent upon that game, so if you didn’t play the Tomb Raider reboot you might as well just skip this review as this comic hates you. No we’re catering specifical to the hardcore crowd that loved the plot elements of that game like the marooned shipwreck island setting and the evil cult but didn’t like having Lara be effective or dangerous and instead had wanted more running and flailing.
(Try making that face, it’s wholly unnatural)
In case that gargantuan expository paragraph didn’t clue you in I’m running a little low on things to say about the Tomb Raider comic that I haven’t already said so let’s get to summarizing a little bit more. Where the reboot game utilized the tight claustrophobic setting of a lost island, populated solely by a murderous cult of shipwrecked lunatics, to force Lara into a position where she had to become a hardened survivalist killer to survive (much like First Blood my favorite Stallone film) the comic throws Lara out into the world with a sort of murder mystery plot but not really. It’s been revealed that Lara and 3 other survivors from her shipwreck brought with them 4 artifacts from the island which bore sacred significance to the cult that inhabited said cursed spit of land. As such the cult has now followed the 4 out into the world to seek brutal revenge to reclaim their stolen artifacts.
On the surface this isn’t a bad concept for a plot and seems kind of worthwhile as a good way to explore Lara’s survivors guilt while also forcing her into a conflict of reintegrating into civilian life and managing to adapt her scrounging and crafting skills from the island into an arena like a big city. This premise is entirely squandered however; the cult now somehow has billions of dollars and influence across the globe despite being created by a gang of scrounge-ey shipwreck survivors, Lara never uses any of the skills she developed on the island and as a character has reverted back to being weak and timid often panicking in the midst of tension, and the plot jumps around the globe like crazy. The globe trotting nature of the story is a serious drag too as it presents us with the notion that Lara can just go anywhere with no form of restriction while also never making legitimate use of any of the various settings.
(Thank you anonymous bar patron!)
This entire issue is meant to be a chase/fight sequence through the streets of Glasgow but it honestly could take place anywhere but for a “hi-larious” scene of some Scottish soccer fans menacing some guy, it’s tedious (and there’s a dialogue flub when the American Lara calls it football instead of soccer.) I realize that this review is a bit more disjointed than usual but really all the problems of this issue of Tomb Raider are endemic to the series at large: we’re never given a good reason to care about anyone’s fate other than that we’re told they’re main characters. Lara is panicky and a poor fighter despite learning amazing survivalist skills, her survivors guilt is a phoned in attempt at character that goes exactly nowhere while the arc of becoming a stronger person is just shameful recycling. The plotting is uninspired, the enemies are lame and way too overpowered while making no sense within the series’ continuity, and the entire comes off as tragically flaccid and with no energy. It’s all just so much white noise, just bits of time occupying bits of space, none of it funny, interesting, or scary but I can’t deny that there are pictures with dialogue on them, if that interests you fine, go for it, but for everyone else stay far away from Tomb Raider.