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Tomb Raider: The Greatest Treasure of All #1

Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2005
By: Kelvin Green



Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Joe Jusko

Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow


Itís easy to be disappointed when youíre looking forward to something, but it takes a very special kind of talent to disappoint me when I really wasnít expecting to ever beÖ umÖ appointed. But Jurgens and Jusko have managed exactly that with this one-shot. Really, how could you fudge up a Tomb Raider story? All you need is a bit of mystery, some gunplay and violence, and plenty of opportunities for the artist to draw Laraís prodigious mammaries. Itís not a concept that demands complex storytelling, so it surely canít be difficult to achieve a basic level of quality.

And yet, astonishingly, this creative team does somehow face great difficulty producing a basically competent comic. The plot is somewhat simplistic, reading almost like something from a title aimed at younger readers (which this patently isnít), except that a title like Teen Titans Go! doesnít normally have nearly as many clunky bits; the twist ending is remarkably contrived and unconvincing and Laraís sidekick is completely surplus to requirements and contributes nothing to the story, seemingly only present so that Lara can rescue him every other page. Thereís some suggestion that the big twist is there to teach this character a lesson, but if so, that highlights yet another failing in that the story is then not actually about the lead character; whatís worse is that the lesson learned is one that could easily be applied to Lara, effecting change without upsetting the character concept.

The script is similarly kludgy, full of hopelessly dire puns and entendres that just barely scrape from single into double status. The dialogue, beyond some half-arsed flavour text (Lara says ďbloody hellĒ because sheís English, and thatís what English people say, and Chase, as a tough no-nonsense American, drops his gís when heís talkiní), is flat and lifeless, with no personality coming through at all.

To be fair, the art isnít nearly as bad; the painting is rich and textured, and there are some interesting panel layouts and storytelling choices. But the figure work is of the photo referenced variety, specifically of the ďas stiff and lifeless as the scriptĒ variety. Some artists, such as Greg Staples or Simon Davis, do painted comic art very well, but most seem to have this problem in which itís obvious that the figures are posed and still, as opposed to snapshots of objects in motion; Juskoís work here is most definitely of that inflexible type. At some point the US comics industry will realise that painted comic art still has to be good comic art, but until then, weíll have to suffer misfires like this. At least itís not Alex Ross; Iím not sure the world is ready for Fat Lara Who Looks Suspiciously Like Alex Ross In Hotpants.

I really didnít expect a Tomb Raider comic to actually be good, but competent would have been a happy compromise. Sadly, we donít even get that much here. Bloody hell.



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