By Mike Badilla
We begin Tomb Raider #9 with a flashback to Lara's childhood, a situation where she was playing with some other children in a sandbox. She discovers a bone and shows the other children, only to have them scream and run away. Lara remembers feelings of loneliness such as this, as she had interests that were different than most other children.
We arrive back to present time in Bamberg (I thought they meant Hamburg so I Googled it and Bamberg is a real place) Germany. Lara is researching maps and trying to figure out where her friend Sam could possibly be, having gone missing in previous issues. This leads to memories of Lara and Sam together, which makes Lara sad. We also see memories of Lara running to rescue Sam (as Sam was destined to become the replacement body of an old god named Himiko). Lara questions whether she saved Sam in time, and it is apparent she has not.
Just outside Hamburg (not to be confused with Bamberg, where Lara is), Germany, a van of women from a college (including Sam) are taking a road trip. They stop at a gas station for food, and Sam goes inside where she is heckled by some men because they think she is a real hot lady. Sam is overtaken by some dark power (Himiko, I'm betting) and starts beating on one of the hecklers. The rest of the women from the van all start destroying the gas station while Sam stands triumphantly.
At the university in Bamberg, Lara is speaking to a professor that studied something called the Wei mirror, that has something to do with Himiko. The professor knows about Himiko as well as things like ritual and possession, of which Lara wants to know more about. At a local tavern they discuss more topics of possession, as Lara attempts to figure out whether Himiko is possessing Sam more and more as time goes on. There is more talk of the Wei mirror, and we see a scene of someone taking it out of a storage crate and holding it up to the sky, summoning dark power. The professor then takes Lara to a local church to discuss possession more, when the two are attacked! Back at the gas station, Himiko continues to take over Sam, who orders the girls to burn the gas station to the ground, while stating that they are on a path to Yamatai, Himiko's holy place.
Let's start on the art; not great. Extremely uneven throughout the book. Wonky eyes and faces that look like mashed up clay getting punched and prodded between every panel. The backgrounds were fine, a little boring and sterile but compared to the people I'd almost bet they're done by a different artist. I just couldn't get past the fact that people's faces looked different in every scene. Weird shaped heads, strange proportions on body parts.... really distracting from the overall book.
Story wise, I wasn't impressed either. How long will this whole hunt for Sam go on? I like the idea that she is possessed by this ancient god, and that she was the only one able to be this whole time as she is somehow related to Himiko. I get it. My biggest problem isn't even this hunt so far as it's just all so utterly boring. I don't care about this long conversation between Lara and the university professor. I don't care who the people are that attacked Lara at the end. This book didn't do anything to inject any kind of interest into a new reader, but instead offered up a bland-wich with a side of sigh-der.
Tomb Raider #9
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Phillip Sevy
Colorer: Michael Atiyeh
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics