Tomb Raider regulars, writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, aren’t giving Lara Croft a break anytime soon. After sending her on a trip around the world in Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade, Lanzing and Kelly are taking the famous franchise’s name very literally by adding (you guessed it) a giant tomb. In Tomb Raider: Inferno #1, Lara finds herself up against a frequent foe: Trinity. But what starts as a simple enough mission quickly makes a turn for the worst as more and more of Trinity’s cryptic plans unfold.
Illustrated by another Tomb Raider veteran, artist Phillip Sevy, this first issue in the four-part miniseries certainly feels like it was created with a deep understanding of the franchise. Although it’s the first issue, Lara’s character is already fleshed out and her personality is easy to recognize. While Lara doesn’t get a whole lot of dialogue (most of the issue is narrated by a member of Trinity), the creative team knows this character so well that they’re able to showcase her fearlessness and persistence through sparse words and choice action sequences.
Still, I think Lara’s character could have been better represented if Sevy’s anatomical renderings looked a little more realistic. Sevy’s pencils shine in backgrounds. Every building, glacier, and helicopter in Tomb Raider: Inferno #1 looks nearly photographic. His figures, on the other hand, are heavily stylized and carry none of that same realism. Sometimes Sevy nails Lara’s determined expressions, but at other times he misses the mark and the character appears decidedly unnatural. Sevy worked on Tomb Raider: Choice and Sacrifice and clearly knows both the franchise as a whole and Lara’s character. But, for me personally, the heavily stylized figures don’t match Sevy’s backgrounds or the grave tone of the series so far.
But, Sevy’s lackluster art doesn’t mean this isn’t a good issue. For new fans of the Tomb Raider franchise, Tomb Raider: Inferno #1 is the perfect jumping on point. It isn’t an origin story but it does give readers a quick glimpse into what made Lara Croft into the hero she is today. Within the first few pages, Lanzing and Kelly mention Lara’s father, who was killed at the hands of Trinity. Without having to delve into years and years of Tomb Raider history, that gives Lara an easy motive for wanting to take down the secretive organization. Readers with little knowledge of Lara and her adventures will find Tomb Raider: Inferno #1 an easy and enjoyable read.
It was a safe move from Lanzing and Kelly to make the antagonist of Tomb Raider: Inferno Trinity since we’ve seen them so many times in past Tomb Raider comics, video games, and films. Within the last few months, Trinity appeared in Lara’s most recent silver-screen adaptation, the 2018 Tomb Raider film. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Tomb Raider: Inferno has the same antagonist as the new film. I also don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.
For longtime Tomb Raider fans, this issue might come across as a little monotonous and boring since it deals with a villain that Lara’s encountered numerous times. However, for new fans of the franchise, Tomb Raider: Inferno #1 can be read as a sort of continuation from the recent film. Comics are hard to jump into without reading countless back issues. The fact that Lanzing and Kelly are trying to make Lara’s latest adventure accessible to casual movie fans is a good idea.
If you’ve been playing Tomb Raider video games since the ’90s, Tomb Raider: Inferno #1 may be a little heavy on the nostalgia. But, if you’re a recent addition to the Tomb Raider fandom, this issue is for you.
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