Hello and welcome to Comic Plug’s Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW) – a weekly series that shines a light on female comics, characters, and writers. This week we’re super into THE Tomb Raider, Lara Croft. This badass Brit has been a leading lady since her first video game in the mid-90’s. Since then, the very successful character has had numerous games, two full-length movies, and now Dark Horse Comics has a new series that continues Lara’s story from where the Square Enix games (Tomb Raider & Rise of the Tomb Raider) left off.
As we enter the story Lara is falling through the floor of a cave. Flashback – she is attending the University of Minnesota’s archaeology conference and Professor Robert Demur is introduced. She leaves early for an intense combat training session. Lara is presently approached by Professor Demur’s assistant requesting a meeting with her. Lara declines, but later chooses to seek out Professor Demur (after finding his assistant dead). Professor Demur is investigating a mushroom of immortality, and could use Lara’s skills to find it. And so the adventure begins!
Though she is not the first female protagonist of a gaming series (that honor goes to Ms. PacMan) she is arguably one of the most famous, and for good reason. Lara Croft is seen by many as an empowering figure for female gamers. As an archaeologist, she is informed in other cultures and extensively knowledgeable in history, philosophy and lore. Also, she conducts much of her research on her own, which shows her self-reliance. She has the strength and cool-headed logic of a survivor; harvested from the tragic plane crash she sustained. No, grave robbing is not a commendable occupation. But what women would not want to see herself as smart, independent and strong? And sexy. Don’t forget sexy.
Lara Croft is hot. There’s no denying it. She was designed that way. She’s a smart, low-maintenance, gal who would rather go out to the shooting range than spend five seconds in a mall. Not to mention what all the adventuring does for her figure. And though you can’t help but notice her -ahem- physique it is not the center of attention. The story and art do not revolve around Lara’s body, and she is not made into a sexual object. In the comic (and many other media platforms) she wears clothes that fit her adventurous lifestyle in a practical way. She does not spelunk in stilettos. She is not fighting off sharks in a bikini. And in this new series she is not in skimpy pajamas or a revealing business suit unnecessarily.
Furthermore, Lara’s sexuality and amorous relationships are minor subplots; if they exist at all. Depending on the media you are following Lara has had several romantic relationships with men. What is so exceptional about Lara’s story is that the relationship does not become the focus of the story. The game, the movie, the comic – whatever- continues to focus on the relic Lara is trying to find or the ancient evil she is trying to stop. Lara never gathers her girlfriends to ponder aloud why he hasn’t called. In this comic Lara’s only interaction with other women is her combat training. There has been some speculation that, in this iteration of Tomb Raider, Lara may be a lesbian. Whether that is the case, or not, it will be irrelevant if the focus remains on adventuring outside of Lara’s bedroom.
Thus far Dark Horse has only one issue of Lara’s current story released. Based on the interactions of the characters so far I have high hopes that Dark Horse will continue improve upon the Croft legacy and add even more dimension to this beloved treasure hunter.
What did you think about our #WCW this week? Who or what would you like to see featured? Let me know in the comments below!