Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review - Last of Us: American Dreams #1

Last of Us is poised to be a major AAA release from Naughty Dog Studios, previously known best for the Unchartered series. It's a game set in a world beset by a parasitic fungal outbreak, where everyone struggles to survive however they can. While gamers won't see the game until June 14, comic fans can get a jump start on a prequel comic in Last of Us: American Dreams #1 from Dark Horse Comics.

The first issue is written by Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks, with art by Hicks, colors by Rochelle Rosenberg and letters by Clem Robins.

Ellie is a new arrival in Boston, one of the last remaining quarantine zones. She's recently been transferred to the military prep school where all orphaned teenagers attend upon turning thirteen. It's a dangerous, post-apocalyptic world, where Ellie must handle all manner of danger, whether it be prep school bullies or the actual parasitic outbreak.

As the comic is a prequel to the game of the same name, Druckmann and Hicks aren't really afforded much creative leeway. Having said that, what they do with the first issue is very expansive. They really give readers a glimpse into the downtrodden world the characters of the franchise will inhabit and make it readily known that danger lurks around every corner. Ellie is more than capable enough of handling the world on her own, with a feistiness that almost makes up for her relatively diminutive status.

Hicks also handles the illustration for the book and she does a great job with it. The panels filled with fighting seem to explode of the page, with lots of action jammed into a slew of different panels. The characters do have a cartoonish, Scott Pilgrim look to them which doesn't entirely fit with the narrative. It's not bad, just seems a little disconnected with the subject matter. Again, not to sell Hicks short, as her work is phenomenal in the book.

Lots of folks have been looking forward to Last of Us when it hits the PS3 this summer. In the meantime, fans can get their fix with Last of Us: American Dreams #1, a prequel comic that sets the table well for the impending video game buffet. The story establishes the setting exceptionally well and is accompanied by strong art that handles action equally as well. Definitely worth checking out if you're looking forward to the game.

Last of Us #1 is available now.


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