Lara Croft is back to the four-color world of comics with Gail Simone and Nicolas Daniel Selma’s Tomb Raider: Season of the Witch. There’s a lot to like about this comic, and there’s a few things that left me in the lurch, but overall, it’s a good place for readers old and new to jump on. This comic, as a sequel to a video game, still manages to function pretty well on its own. It’s your classic adventure story where the unwitting explorers stole four things from the mysterious island; they’re not cursed, but because they stole those things, the island ain’t done with them by a damn sight. I will admit here that unwitting explorers who bring about their own destruction with foolish theft is one of my favorite tropes; it’s probably the reason I love Aladdin so much. There’s some added things in the book about a sun-worshipping cult called the Solarii, and their rituals that Lara and her friends have a part in, but a lot of that tied back to the events of the game and almost made them seem like a Maguffin for the comic.
Selma’s artwork is fantastic. His clean linework reminds me a lot of Jamie McKelvie’s earlier stuff, before he had become THE Jamie McKelvie—it gives the characters a sense that they’re not quite in that video game Uncanny Valley and they’re not quite cartoons, they’re just right there in the middle. He makes some strange choices periodically with shadows, but if those are the handful of things I noticed over the course of six issues, I’m basically nitpicking.
Simone’s writing is some of the strongest she’s ever done. She takes the awkward task of basically writing a sequel to a video game, where things have to make sense and compel you even if you never played the game, and she runs with it and makes it work. She found a plot device that allows for some of that sense of the “the past ain’t through with you” aspect to come through so that people who played the game will get a deeper enjoyment of the game and a true sequel, and those of us who didn’t play the game get an adventurous romp. My only gripe is that I have no idea why Lara, who is apparently young and relatively inexperienced, convinced Roth to pilot the Endurance to Yamatai, but those are events of the game, and I will take them up with the appropriate parties if I must.
This comic is meant to bridge the gap between last year’s Tomb Raider and the upcoming sequel, which is, from a marketing standpoint, a pretty damn good way to keep your property in the front of the audience’s mind. If it’s coming out every month, it’s advertising you’re making money off of until the game comes out. Luckily, Simone and Selma brought a great story to the table, and told it well, so it’s one of the few examples of marketing and tie-ins that I’m super okay with. Had I known the series would be this good, I would have picked it up in the single issues, instead of waiting for the trade to come out.
Writer: Gail Simone Artist: Nicolas Daniel Selma Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $19.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: TPB; Print/Digital