Monday, July 08, 2013

The Last of Us the First of Mine?

Historically, there is a long tradition of comic book tie-ins supporting popular television shows and movies. Sometimes they are "good," such as the current Django Unchained series being published by DC Comics, and sometimes, not so much. In the past fifteen years, there has also been a huge increase in video game tie-ins as well, some of which most mainstream gamers and comic book readers may not even be aware of. (For example, did you realize that Archie Publications has been publishing a Sonic the Hedgehog ongoing comic book since 1993?!)

As a comic book collector and gamer, sometimes these are worth picking up because of the additional narrative insight provided or simply because of the synergy between the two. The admiration of one does not necessarily lead to the collecting of the other; for example, while I enjoyed the Mortal Kombat-esque Injustice: Gods Among Us X-Box 360 game, (and a healthy appreciation of the updated character), I did not jump on board the comic book prequel which, like Django, is also a DC Comics publication.  (DC/Wildstorm had some success, I felt, with the recently concluded 24 issue run of Gears of War.)

Issue #3 cover by series artist
 and co-writer Faith Erin Hicks. 
I recently begin reading the four issue miniseries (of which issue three came out two weeks ago) The Last of Us: American Dreams, published by Dark Horse.  Co-written by the game developer's (Naughty Dog) creative director Neil Druckmann, this prequel to the highly lauded PlayStation exclusive game, The Last of Us, this four issue miniseries introduces a younger version of one of the game's main characters and establishes the narrative tone that is further developed in the game.

A game, regrettably, I may never play as I am an X-Box 360 gamer. But, if I play my cards right, The Last of Us may be the first of mine. The reviews for the game and the quality suggested by the comic book are so strong that I am considering greasing the skids with my wife to purchase a PlayStation unit, solely for the purpose of playing this game. (I have been fortunate that the better Resident Evil games have been re-worked for X-Box to this point, though there has been a wait.)

I have not previously seen the works of writer and artist Faith Erin Hicks, but she is clearly one of the creators I would now pick up at least the first issue of whatever she works on. While Hicks artistic style is clearly influenced my manga, it is not to the point where there is a "large eye" distraction--a pitfall other artists tend to fall into. The framing and execution of action "set pieces" is exquisite and worthy of multiple "re-reads." I intentionally placed "re-reads" in quotes as the series of panels in which these take place often are without words.

At a cover price $3.99, the color comic book (printed on high quality paper--unlike Marvel comic books), is a bargain, something that is not easy to type or say about much of what is published today.

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