With Naughty Dog’s successfully popular video game release of The Last of Us making waves across the interactive entertainment industry, Dark Horse Comics has decided to team up with game writer, Neil Druckmann and lead artist, Faith Erin Hicks, for a four-issue prequel to the game. The mini-series chronicles Ellie’s journey with her friend Riley, prior to the events that take place in the established video game storyline, as she tries to survive in the violent, post-pandemic world she lives in.
“The Last of Us: American Dreams” #3 continues to provide fans of the game with additional material to expand the critically acclaimed universe, and leads readers to a pretty exciting cliffhanger ending featuring the introduction of another familiar character.
WRITTEN BY: Neil Druckmann & Faith Erin Hicks
ART BY: Faith Erin Hicks
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: June 26, 2013
For those who’ve already finished the game, Riley’s fate is not a mystery. But with only one more issue set for release next month, it’s hard to say whether Druckmann and Hicks will take her and Ellie’s story all the way to its poetic end. In the meantime, they’re content with focussing on jampacking the current issue with an abundance of action, as Ellie and Riley are caught fighting against the military, the Fireflies, and “the infected”. Begrudgingly following Riley’s lead, Ellie is coerced into aiding the Fireflies in their escape, but the young girls’ efforts aren’t received well. The lead-in to issue #4 promises a thrilling finale as Ellie and Riley are captured by the anti-government militia group.
Because these circumstances are so extreme, it’s easy to forget that Ellie is only a 13 year old kid; but Druckmann and Hicks sneak in bouts of vulnerability and naiveté at just the right moments to remind us. There’s not much to show in terms of character building and development, but Ellie’s attachment to Riley becomes palpable as they’re thrust in and out of dangerous situations. It’s both sweet and troubling, considering the series is only one issue away from completion, and Riley still isn’t very likeable.
Hick’s style of art is probably not what most people envisioned for a series based on The Last of Us, but her dark-hued colour palette fits the mold perfectly. She has a simplistic approach to illustration, but when a scene calls for detail, she delivers; for example, in panels where the focus is on the architectural aspects of the post-pandemic city. Readers will probably make comparisons between her artwork and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s art in “Scott Pilgrim”, as both artists seem to have the same technique in regards to drawing faces. Her take is slightly more visually expressive.
Julian Totino Tedesco’s cover artwork for the series is consistently stunning. His take on “the infected” is fantastically gnarly, and worthy of a mention.
Overall, “The Last of Us: American Dreams” is a series derived from favourable circumstances. The video game is doing so well in the mainstream market, garnering critical acclaim from all directions; a comic book series would definitely succeed in reaching out to that same audience. Of course the fandom would be interested in a series that’s made to expand the universe that’s captivated (and is still captivating) them. It’s a smart move by everyone involved. Will this series speak to those unfamiliar with the video game? Maybe, but definitely not to the same extent.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd