Lara Croft’s life has transformed with the death of her father at the hands of the secret organization known as Trinity, which poses a threat to every person on the planet. And while she has made it her mission to bring Trinity tumbling down, the cabal may have the perfect match to stymie Lara’s efforts: a zealot who has observed Lara’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that could cost Lara her life. In Tomb Raider: Inferno #1, out this June from Dark Horse Comics, writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and artist Phillip Sevy will guide Lara as she attempts to stop Trinity from using the secrets of the Tomb of Eden in their efforts to tighten their grip on the world. Time will tell whether Lara makes it out unscathed in her one-woman mission.
Misters Lanzing, Kelly, and Sevy spoke with me recently about where we find Lara Croft at the beginning of Tomb Raider: Inferno, Lara’s frame of mind at the start of Inferno, and what we can expect to see in the book going forward.
Also, be sure to check out process art Mr. Sevy has shared from the first issue!
FreakSugar: For folks joining in, what is the conceit of Tomb Raider: Inferno?
Jackson Lanzing: This is Lara Croft’s descent into darkness… and perhaps into madness. In the aftermath of the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara has isolated herself from her friends, dedicating herself to a one-woman crusade against Trinity, the secret organization that killed her father. That war has led her to a dangerous mystery: an ancient site spoken of in whispers throughout history – from ancient Egypt to renaissance Italy – known as the Tomb of Eden. It purports to be the “location of God” – and Trinity has already found it. If Lara is going to keep the secrets of this tomb out of their hands, she’ll have to commit to a full assault on Trinity’s compound.
But Trinity’s brought a weapon to this fight: a warrior who has studied Lara the same way Lara has studied antiquity. After all the crazy things Lara has faced, it may be Trinity zealot Nadija Katlego who finally stands victorious over the Tomb Raider.
FS: What kind of change do we see in Lara at the beginning of Inferno since we last saw her in Survivor’s Crusade?
Collin Kelly: One of the most exciting things about this project was that we always knew that we were getting the chance to tell two acts of the same story. To those ends, Inferno actually picks up a very shortly after Survivor’s Crusade closes, perhaps even less than a day. But in that time, Lara has taken her instinct – to stop reacting to Trinity, and instead to go on the offensive – and, if you’ll forgive the pun, weaponized it. The Lara we’ll meet in Inferno is prepared for this assault, mentally and physically. She’s starting the adventure fully armed, prepped for subzero survival and, perhaps most importantly, recording her experience.
All things considered, that is the biggest difference Tomb Raider fans will find in Lara: as Inferno starts, she knows she’s walking into Hell… and there is a very real chance she’s not coming back out.
FS: The solicitations for the book suggest Lara might be at a disadvantage against Trinity in Inferno. What does that sort of thing do to her frame of mind as someone who is used to being on solid footing?
JL: That’s a great question. Lara’s mind is the subject of our entire run on the character. It’s what drew us to her in the first place. Who is this woman who can push herself so far past her breaking point? How does her resilience and survivor’s guilt affect her relationships, her mental health, her well-being? How does she keep moving – and why? Who does she truly care about – and how does she perceive herself in relation to them? Survivor’s Crusade showed Lara wrestling with how to proceed on her path – but Inferno is about what happens when that path turns out to be darker and stranger than you ever imagined.
Anyone interested in what Lara’s mind looks like from the inside should look out for issue #3 of this series. It is, without a doubt, one of the most introspective and experimental comics we’ve ever created – and Phil’s work is going to blow everyone’s expectations away.
FS: How would you describe the state of Trinity at the beginning of Inferno? What’s their level of influence and power?
CK: What’s their level of influence and power? How’s this: they are, hands down, the largest single global threat to the survival of the human species. A secret cabal of power players who have tuned their organization to utilize modern techniques towards ancient ends, they have agents in the highest levels of power. Their funds are virtually limitless, their soldiers are zealots, and they’ve been feverishly hunting the most powerful artifacts of the ancient world for a decade towards one end: irrevocably changing the world.
What they’re closing in on in Inferno is their ultimate target to date, a tomb of such global importance and impact that it’s influence can be felt back through the modern age of Tomb Raider stories, and into the future of the franchise.
FS: Following up on that, Trinity shares with it traditions of other power-based organizations and societies. Beyond the comics and video games, what influences impact how you write the organization?
JL: From the name on down, Trinity has roots in Christian traditions – but it’s not an explicitly Christian organization. It’s a conglomerate, with many hands doing many different things – so we’re not writing Trinity so much as we are writing individuals who work in Trinity’s name. In INFERNO, Nadija Katlego is a new kind of Trinity operative, one with personal motivations for her search and incredible skills with which to finish the job.
FS: Phillip, what’s it like returning to the Tomb Raider universe? Does it feel like coming home? How have your experiences away from Tomb Raider changed how you approach the character, if at all?
Phillip Sevy: I absolutely love the Tomb Raider universe – both characters, creators, and fandom. It was so exciting to get invited back and to be able to team with Collin and Jackson on this story. I had always felt that I was just starting to get comfortable drawing Lara and friends when my first run ended.
I’m excited for fans of the series to see the work I’m doing on it now. Collin and Jackson really challenged me and forced me to up my game. And the 15 months I spent drawing between Tomb Raider stints really changed and evolved my art. I’m coming back with renewed energy and a different approach that works even better than before.
Colorist Michael Atiyeh, the one true constant on Dark Horse’s series, has been doing some amazing work on this series too. I think our collaboration together on this series is leagues beyond our previous series.
FS: Is there anything you can tease about what we can expect to see going forward?
PS: If you’re a Tomb Raider fan and have been following the games/comics – there are things in this series that you will talk about for years. I don’t want to overhype it – but I can hardly wait for the issues to come out and see people’s reactions. You DO NOT want to miss this. I promise you.
Tomb Raider: Inferno #1 goes on sale Wednesday, June 13th, from Dark Horse Comics. FOC for the issue is this Monday, May 21st.
From the official issue description:
Trinity is on high alert–they know Lara Croft is coming and now, under the shrewd command of a new officer, they’re ready for any surprises, but Lara is steadfast in her quest to uncover their secrets. Though typically equally prepared, this time Lara may just find herself one step behind.
* Perfect for new and existing Tomb Raider fans!
* Artist Phillip Sevy returns to Tomb Raider!