Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma’s Tomb Raider series for Dark Horse is one that started off slightly iffy, but has gotten better over time. Continuing the story of last year’s award-winning Tomb Raider video game reboot, Gail and Nicolás’ story is one that deals with post-traumatic stress and the feelings of guilt that Lara has since she survived where many of her friends did not. And in addition to all that, the Solarii are back again to screw with her life and this time she isn’t going to blunder along to a victory. This time she has a plan and she’s pretty driven.
In the new issue, Tomb Raider #4, we see Lara being incredibly proactive for once and part of the mystery of what is happening with the Solarii and what their agents are doing, going after Lara and her remaining friends, is solved. This was something that I was rather looking forward to, because I thought it was high time we got some sort of a reveal on that front and Gail and Nicolás definitely delivered on that front. This issue has Gail’s best writing to date on this series and Nicolás’ art is also fairly top-notch.
Last issue we saw that the Solarii agents had kidnapped Sam’s roommate and friend Sam Nishimura in order to give Lara some much-needed motivation to acquiesce to their demands, among other things. We also saw that the Solarii agents had unleashed something, something that has to do with the island of Yamatai, which was the scene for the video game’s action last year, a place that still gives Lara and her surviving friends nightmares. Now, we see how that tale continues as Lara continues to look for answers but ends up with a few dead-ends, so she takes a rather drastic step: going back to Yamatai. And this time, she means to go prepared for what she will undoubtedly encounter there.
Lara’s friends Jonah and Joslin are characters that I’ve enjoyed reading about in this series, particularly Jonah who had some fits of dire proclamations in the first couple issues and who really spooked Lara as a result. Now he’s on the road to recovery and ready to join Lara in whatever she undertakes. The bond of friendship between the survivors (Lara, Jonah, Sam and Joslin) is pretty strong, despite everything and perhaps even in spite of it, and that is reflected well in Gail’s writing. When Jonah is talking with Lara or when Joslin is talking with Lara, you really get a good strong vibe that these three are close to each other, despite their differences and all. That kind of chemistry between characters isn’t easy to pull off in my experience, but Gail handles that quite admirably.
But then again, Gail has always been a master at such things. Whether she is writing Savage Wolverine or Birds of Prey or Red Sonja or Batgirl or Tomb Raider, Gail’s characters are almost always the best thing about her work, and this is no different to that, not at all. The easy camaraderie between Jonah and Lara is certainly a highlight, and it is even a teensy bit emotional.
If there was any fault to this comic, it was that some of the dialogue felt off, and that was only when Gail is approximating the British style of speaking. I’m hardly one to comment on this since I have no experience at all, but these bits of dialogue felt a little stiff and forced. But thankfully, that is the only negative of the writing this week!
On art, Nicolás and Juan Gedeon and Michael Atiyeh and Michael Heisler are back for another installment and this time they all do some significantly improved work. In fact, I’d say that they are all really stellar this time. Nicolás’ characterwork is much better this time, Gedeon’s inks are much better and Michael Atiyeh’s colours have always been good of course, so that hardly bears a mention especially. Some things you can well take for granted and I had a much better visual experience with Tomb Raider #4 than I have had with any of the previous three issues, and that’s saying something.
And I should add that while Stephanie Hans’ cover for this issue isn’t all that reflective of the story, it is still a pretty damn good cover and I’d love to see her do more on this series, and in others as well. Top marks on the cover!
Gail Simone and her art team strike once again and this time it is a home run.