Pulp #621

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Pulp #621

Ah, Dark Horse Comics — the place where popular franchises go when they’re adapted for comic books. They’ve adapted so many popular titles, to varying success; they’ve had a whole heap of Star Wars titles, hosted the comic continuations of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and expanded on the already-excellent universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. That’s without mentioning their original content, either; Mike Mignola has been writing Hellboy for them for years, and you’ve already heard my thoughts about The Goon. Dark Horse have — for the most part — been great at slotting their stories in to the established universes of their adaptations. For example, I picked up a copy of Mass Effect: Redemption years back, and during my replay of Mass Effect 2 recently, I realised that the events of the comic are actually mentioned in game during dialogue with an NPC. I don’t know if it’s just because I haven’t been reading the right comics, but I always get a bit of thrill out of games referencing their companion stories.
All my waffling about Dark Horse aside, the comic that landed in my lap this time around is Tomb Raider: Season of the Witch. Season of the Witch collects the first six issues of the ongoing Tomb Raider series, and is written by Gail Simone, who you might know from her excellent Batgirl run over at DC, or her ongoing work on Red Sonya. I’ve been a fan of Simone’s work for a while now; her Batgirl run was pretty high up on my pull list, and I enjoyed it consistently — a trait, unfortunately, that a lot of DC series’ don’t share.
Season of the Witch picks up right where the 2013 Tomb Raider game left off — Lara Croft and the remaining crew of the Endurance have survived their ordeal on the incredibly hostile island of Yamatai, and are attempting to reintegrate into society. Lara isn’t having much luck, though; she’s plagued by visions and nightmares, with the ghosts of her dead friends seemingly haunting her. When her friend Jonah calls for her help and they survive a tsunami in the middle of the desert (yes, you read that correctly), Lara works out pretty quickly that something fishy is going on (pardon the pun). With a sinister group lurking in the shadows and the survivors seemingly being drawn back to the hellhole they barely escaped, Lara must find a way to shut down the machinations of an island that just won’t leave her alone.
While I have every faith in Gail Simone’s writing, I was a little nervous when approaching an adaptation of a game that a I really enjoyed. I had a ball playing the game when it came out, and I didn’t want to ruin my appreciation for the story with a half-assed continuation. Thankfully, Simone came through, and the story — while a little mind-bending — is really solid, and matches the gritty survivalist tone set by the game. While its artwork — courtesy of Nicolás Daniel Selma (S.H.O.O.T. First) — is pretty average, I didn’t really notice it too much. While I would definitely prefer higher-quality art on a series I’m enthusiastic about, I’m happy to overlook it providing the story meets my standards. Thankfully, Simone delivers, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. While having finished the game will definitely help your understanding — if you’re reading the comic, you probably played it in the first place anyway — it’s not a necessity, and Season of the Witch is great as a stand-alone.
Written By Alastair McGibbon