Monday, 8 June 2015

Tomb Raider, Volume 1: Season of the Witch Review (Gail Simone, Nicolas Daniel Selma)

Spinning off from the enormously successful 2013 Tomb Raider reboot is a comic sequel of sorts, Season of the Witch, which is set after the events of the game. It also continues the trend of crap comics based on brilliant games!

Lara Croft and a small group of her surviving buddies have made it off of the cursed island Yamatai with some valuable booty. But the trinkets are acting as beacons to the evil island cult and each of her friends is being targeted. When her best pal Sam is kidnapped, Lara has to grab her bow and arrows and trusty pickaxe and head back to Yamatai to once more save the world!

This is probably some of Gail Simone’s laziest writing I’ve read in some time. To be fair, this is obviously a cash-grab because of the game’s popularity and I don’t think Simone would say this was a passion project knocking around in her head for some time; rather, it’s the work-for-hire opportunity it is, like all comics based on games, to make some scratch. As a result, not a lot of effort is put into it and it’s not a very compelling read.

Season of the Witch is an international-spanning mystery involving ancient artefacts, which is very Tomb Raider, but seeing Lara go through the adventure without controlling her yourself is much less fun especially as a lot of the adventure is pretty generic: run away from the bad guys, leap across obstacle, fight, find the missing piece of the puzzle, etc. It’s pretty unimaginative if you’ve played the game and seen her do all those things before.

Lara remains the only fully-realised character with the supporting cast appearing as more or less blanks. The bad guys – literally men in black – couldn’t be more stereotypically bad guy-y if they tried and the new character introduced is very weakly written. His twist reveal at the end is shocking in how corny it is.

The comic is let down visually by the very bland artwork of Nicolas Daniel Selma, in stark contrast to the lush and highly detailed graphics from the game. It all looks hurriedly sketched with the bare minimum of effort – looooots of blank space everywhere! That said, the characters all resemble their models in the game very closely.

Season of the Witch is lazy in how its researched too. In one scene set in Dublin, Lara takes advantage of the rivalry between Celtic and Aberdeen football clubs by mentioning to some Celtic fans that her attacker is an Aberdeen fan – anyone spot the problem here? Celtic (who are incorrectly referred to as Celtics, plural!) and Aberdeen are SCOTTISH football clubs, not Irish! Why would whole gaggles of them be in Dublin for a match!? Scotland and Ireland are both Gaelic nations but they’re not interchangeable – the simplest google would’ve solved that stupid error!

I just followed my own advice and googled Celtic and Aberdeen rivalry – and there isn’t one! Hearts and Celtic maybe, Aberdeen and Rangers yes, but a Celtic and Aberdeen rivalry? Nope! I understand with all the supernatural stuff in the comic that realism shouldn’t be an issue but that scene felt deliberately included to add a specific grounded element to the story and it fell flat on its face. Sloppy work, Gail Simone!

Season of the Witch is an uninspired, uninteresting cash-grab comic that fans of both the recent Tomb Raider game and Gail Simone will be bored with. The good news is the true game sequel is expected later this year!

Tomb Raider, Volume 1: Season of the Witch

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