CCI: Comic Character Investigation #7

1 mars 2011 Non Par Comic Box

[ENGLISH] This month: Lara Croft. Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.

The Time of  Tomb Raider

Side-arms and sunglasses. Sexy and with a never-quenched thirst for adventure. Her name is Tomb Raider and she has graced many a comic in her time. The sultry explorer first became popular in a video game released in 1996 which was to become quite a hit and to date, few people are ignorant of the name, “Tomb Raider.” She has never died out in popularity and new games have been and are continuing to be generated starring the action heroine.

With the jump to comics, one of the early attempts at bringing video game characters to comic life, she really made her mark. Igniting her popularity in a new medium, she shared stories with another character called Witchblade but she would soon fly solo and absorb audience interest all on her own as she did in the games. Today, that kind of broad-stroking across multimedia platforms is commonplace but at the time it seemed a bit surprising that a video game character could not only become a popular comic but one with a windfall of financial success beyond that usually seen. The sales of her books was in the hundreds of thousands per month. Most titles are not so healthy in the marketplace.

Such success may have been due to the popularity of the video games. Or perhaps it was due to the adventures of Lara Croft in different parts of the world hunting down exotic artifacts. It may have been her beauty and style, her determination and skill, or the allure she held for readers in her many sensual outfits. They certainly didn’t hurt. And neither did a cool name like “Tomb Raider” which immediately conjures up images of adventure and intrigue.

That adventure came with a price tag, however. While her parents were quite rich, they did disown her for preferring an adventurous life over a “proper” place for a lady in England. It didn’t stop her. Her drive for archaeological discoveries was also equipped with the special skill sets necessary to be good at what she did and she gained world renown in her journeys and made enough money of her own to continue her quests.

Lara Croft has had quite a few titles and in each readers could find the girl they craved, one with that archeological bent, a fast pair of guns, short shorts and a tight top, and often just a little bit dirty. . . from raiding all those tombs, of course.

Popularity like this always runs its course and it wasn’t long before Tomb Raider would become not one, but two major motion pictures starring Angelina Jolie who was perfectly cast since she could meet the tough but sexy standards of her video-game and comic book counterpart.

Of course, with Lara Croft, it wasn’t just about her sexy look and the interesting places she visited. She was smart, strong, and skillful. She knew her business and had the money to finance her adventures. Lara could have chosen the way of the comfortable life after her many successes and let the world pass her by without a care in the world. The problem with that, though, was the world had called to her. It called her to action. It called her to take risks, and it called her to live dangerously. Somehow the comfortable life couldn’t comfort her. It was the risk that glowed with power and which tugged at her restless spirit to make new discoveries.

Since she first arrived, many other video games have become comics but you can still find Lara Croft running through those tombs, engaged in firefights with multiple enemies, going underwater to recover lost cities, flying to strange deserts and sporting very little sportswear.

She’s still there and always will be, waiting to be discovered by new readers looking for an exotic find themselves. Lara always delivers. And while it may not be very soon that we see something quite equal to the likes of Miss Croft again, perhaps somewhere, in some distant land certainly, a woman who reminds us of her may greet us in new stories and new adventures. And if she is anything like her lovely, action-packed predecessor. . . what an adventure that will be.

[James Parducci]

James Parducci is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.