Gail Simone: TOMB RAIDER - New Lara's New Adventures

Tomb Raider Cover
Credit: Dark Horse

The "Definitive Edition" of the critic and fan-lauded Tomb Raider reboot hits stores on January 28th, so players with next gen systems can experience the new adventures of Lara Croft. She's younger, more impulsive, and in more trouble than ever before - but she also kicks even more ass.

For fans wanting the next chapter of this new version of the Tomb Raider world, they don't have to wait too long. Scheduled for a February 26, 2014 release, Tomb Raider #1 by Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma takes place in the same world as the game, with complete approval of the development team. Picking up the action shortly after the game's ending, the series will help bridge the gap until the sequel is ready to hit video game systems.

For more on the series, why Simone is drawn to Lara Croft, and what fans need to know to get in, we talked with the writer.

Tomb Raider #1 Interior page
Tomb Raider #1 Interior page
Credit: Dark Horse

Newsarama: Gail, now that the series is only a month away and you've been writing, has your approach to the series or character changed at all from your initial impressions? What has surprised you about Lara and Tomb Raider so far?

Gail Simone: I have two Lara Crofts in my head, actually. There's the Lara in the recent game, whom I adored, who feels fear and guilt and anxiety and pain and regret very acutely, who is just learning how to turn the world to her will.

And then there's a Lara I believe she will become, something even more formidable. For me, it's a blast writing that first Lara, knowing that second one is in there waiting to come out. We see flashes of it right away, but this is still very much LARA CROFT: YEAR ONE, and that makes me happy.

Nrama: This is a direct follow-up to the Tomb Raider video game reboot from last year. For those that haven't played the game or are waiting for the Ultimate Edition on next-gen consoles in the next week here, what do they absolutely need to know when picking up Tomb Raider #1?

Simone: Good question!  Let's see...Lara's parents are missing and presumed dead, and Lara survived a shipwreck during an expedition to find a lost island. That's it, really, it's nothing like the daunting amount of backstory in most superhero books. Lara in the game and the comic is at the very beginning of her journey, so she is both the hero and the point-of-view character. We experience the weirdness and danger with her, not as an observer.

Tomb Raider Cover
Tomb Raider Cover
Credit: Dark Horse

Nrama: With the series taking place (at least at first here) directly between two games – how much is Square Enix involved, and how does that change your approach to the story?

Simone: It's a team effort, they want the best possible story that doesn't damage the character they care so much about. And they have made it very clear that they want my input on some writerly things, motivations and character.

Nrama: There have been several attempts at video game comics – what works in the translation, and what are some things you specifically want to avoid?

Simone: I have read a few where I felt alienated, because they traded good storytelling for accuracy to the game. You still need character, you still need plot. No one cares who invented the space gun your character uses if the character him/herself is uninteresting. If I wanted to play a game, I'd play the game. Readers want a story.

Lara is sort of built in with a compelling nature, that helps a lot.

Nrama: Spinning off of that question, as an avid gamer yourself, how do you compare storytelling overall between the video game and comic book mediums? What appeals to you in each format?

Simone: I have done a couple things with video game companies, and the non-linear nature of the games I worked on was fascinating and a little bit difficult for me to grasp at times. But what I love is that it's become clear these games need writers. Great graphics are not enough anymore, players want a decent story, they mock bad dialog. They have taste, and they have high expectations. Games like Tomb Raider and The Last of Us should be a signal to other companies that the stories need as much attention as the gameplay.

Nrama: Diving into the story itself, what is Lara's next adventure, and what's driving her to continue exploring after the events of the game?

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Simone: Sometimes a man follows a storm, sometimes the storm follows the man.

Lara is adjusting to what happened to her on the island, and she finds gaps in her memory, gaps that people would kill for her to remember.

Nrama: What other characters will we be seeing join Lara here? Are you getting to add anyone new to the mythos?

Simone: There are a couple new characters and some favorites, but I can't say more than that. But Sam's there, for sure. Dang!

Nrama: What makes Lara Croft unique from other explorers/adventures out there?

Tomb Raider Cover
Tomb Raider Cover
Credit: Dark Horse

Simone: I think this Lara is a hero who bleeds and has doubts and fear, which makes her willingness to do these feats even more terrifying and heroic. She's not the biggest adventurer, she's not the fastest, she's the one that gets back up when you knock her down.

Nrama: Finally, Gail, do you have any last teases or a particular moment from the first issue or two that you're especially excited for fans to see?

Simone: Well, Lara is briefly in America for a change...that's good fun.

I hope people give this a try – I'm excited about it. Lara Croft is one of those great characters, like Wonder Woman and Red Sonja, who inspired dozens of characters to follow, to try to match that particular mix of chemistry that makes a superstar.  I am delighted to write her adventures.

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