Review - Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt #1

"We found Yamatai. But we lost most everything else."

Lara Croft is one of the most enduring icons in pop culture today. She burst onto the scene way back in 1996 with tons of publicity and heralding a new age in lead characters. Almost countless games later, Crystal Dynamics recently decided to reboot the franchise and offer her a fresh start in Tomb Raider, a critically acclaimed return to roots for her and the franchise. Dark Horse is picking up that reboot torch and running with it in Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt #1. The issue is written by Gail Simone, penciled by Nicolás Daniel Selma, inked by Juan Gedeon and colored by Michael Atiyeh.

Following the events of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is wracked with survivor's guilt following her expedition to Yamatai, an island in the Dragon's Triangle off the coast of Japan. She ventured there on the Endurance, yet what her and the crew experienced was something both mysterious and horrifying, leading to the loss of some lives. This engenders survivor's guilt in Lara, fighting to live her life after those harrowing events. As it turns out, she's not the only one faced with a daily routine that's almost a chore and when you mix in a crazy natural phenomenon, things clearly aren't going to be easy for Lara ever again.

It felt somewhat inevitable that Simone would make her way to the Tomb Raider property and she brings her unique touch to the work. Lara Croft is portrayed in line with her reboot, which makes sense because the book picks up where the game leaves off. Having said that, it's not required that the reader play the game beforehand, but it does help as it provides a ton of context for what Lara's going through. She's somewhat shattered and not really knowing why leaves the reader at something of a disadvantage in relating to her troubles. It's also a little odd to see Lara in what appears to be an apartment, considering she comes from extreme wealth and pomp. The story moves along quickly enough, with Lara seeking to reconcile the events on the island with the remaining survivors, despite the clear supernatural influences that seems to have followed them back.

Illustratively, the book looks a lot like Archer. Selma, Gedeon and Atiyeh combine to present characters who are accented by strong, black outlines that prompt the characters to stand out--almost a little too much. There's little attention to detail in the backgrounds, but the characters look sufficiently broken as a result of the events on Yamatai. There are some good panel layouts throughout the book for the action, most of which help the book read almost like an in-game cinematic of sorts. Some of the character designs look a little too rigid, which makes the action seem to fall on the robotic end of the kinetic spectrum.

Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt #1 is primarily going to be popular among those who played Tomb Raider. It picks up directly after the ending of that and is rumored to be leading directly into a sequel. Simone effectively maintains the redefined Lara's persona throughout the book and really emphasizes the chilling effects the Endurance expedition had on the crew. The art is very character focused and does a great job showing off those characters, even if there are some panels where it feels they're just sort of floating in space. Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt #1 is worth checking out if you're a fan of the franchise, but if you haven't played the game you might not really get the full gravity of the story it's telling.

Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt #1 is in stores February 26 with interiors below.