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Review: ‘The Last of Us: American Dreams’ #4

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Game writer, Neil Druckmann, and lead artist Faith Erin Hicks, turn in the fourth installment of “The Last of Us: American Dreams”, closing the final chapter of Dark Horse Comics’ noteworthy prequel to Naughty Dog’s original creation. Chronicling Ellie’s journey prior to the established video game storyline, this mini-series proves to be as accessible and thrilling to new fans, as the game is illustrious and esteemed in the industry.

WRITTEN BY: Neil Druckmann & Faith Erin Hicks
ART BY: Faith Erin Hicks
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: June 26, 2013

Those who have already completed the game are probably wondering whether Druckmann and Hicks chose to take Ellie and Riley’s story to its poetically tragic end. As it turns out, there is definitely more pre-game universe ground that can potentially be covered, should both writers choose to expand upon the series in the future.

The final issue begins where the last leaves off; with Ellie and Riley being captured by the anti-government militia group, also known as The Fireflies. The end of issue #3 introduces a familiar face from the game ‘verse: Marlene. In this issue she provides Riley with some cold hard truths regarding the bleak reality of what it really means to join the Fireflies, and shocks Ellie after relaying a surprising amount of knowledge that she’s accumulated about her. Bound and imprisoned, the girls must handle threats from both The Fireflies, and a band of gun-wielding smugglers who have stumbled upon them.

Druckmann and Hicks end the series on an unsurprisingly somber note, given the violent, post-pandemic setting “The Last of Us” exists in. Disillusionment and despondency sneak up on the characters when they’re faced with the fact that “all roads lead to the same end.” It’s a hopeless and dark message, but essentially ties off the series’ dramatic narrative in the most appropriate way. Both writers really deliver authentic drama and raw intensity throughout this entire installment, something that was missing in the previous issues.

It’s been difficult trying to get behind Riley’s overall personality in this series, generally speaking, she’s not a very likeable individual, but the character development seen in issue #4 will dissolve any reservations readers may have. Her final scene on issue #4 will really resonate with readers.

The artwork remains consistently good. Hicks’ style isn’t overly complicated or detailed, but visually expressive when it matters. She conveys an array of emotion when illustrating the characters’ expressions, and knows how to build up suspense through lively panel work when the script calls for high-action scenes. Colourist Rachelle Rosenberg sticks with just the right palette of dark and murky hues in order to effectively portray the grim universe; and artist, Julian Totino Tedesco delivers another beautifully illustrated cover for the series. His work always hits the mark.

“The Last of Us: American Dreams” finally concludes its Dark Horse run, but there’s still room in the pre-game universe for a larger story to be told.

4/5 Skulls

Review by – ShadowJayd