After struggling to escape it, Lara is now back on Yamatai for the sake of her friend. Although she is better prepared for the island’s dangers this time, it still holds many secrets and challenges — some of which she may not be ready for.
Note: Spoilers are below so beware.
The whole reason Lara returns to Yamatai is for her beloved friend, Sam. The issue begins with how the two met four years prior to the events of this series. We see how they were both polar opposites — Lara shy and reserved, Sam outgoing and spontaneous — yet they connected and in many ways, complimented one another. There are various postcards and pictures of their globe trotting adventures which show the two having a great time together. It’s an intro which perfectly illustrates why Lara is risking her life.
It doesn’t take very long for things to turn extremely violent and Lara is able to kill off her would-be captors with brutal efficiency. Here, she ponders whether the island made her such a proficient killer or if it is something that was already inside of her. Unlike before, she doesn’t feel bad about killing her enemies and even kills one who pleads for his life. There is no time for sympathy on this island; a lesson that she had to learn the hard way before.
Despite how cold and disconnected Lara is while she kills, the same can’t be said when she is unconscious. She passes out after hitting the water hard after nearly being killed by a nasty rockslide. In her unconscious state she sees a vision of her friend Alex who sacrificed himself in order to save her in the video game. This — like her dream about Sam — is a manifestation of the guilt she feels over her friend’s death. This scene was very disturbing because of how mangled Alex’s body was but it was powerful and one of the few times where we saw Lara be vulnerable in this issue.
This comic finally starts to reveal some of the secrets which have been presented in earlier issues. In particular, we learn what the Solarii worshipers intend to do with Sam. Despite what Sam (and Lara) think, these guys don’t want to use her to resurrect the Sun Queen Himiko. Sam is just bait to get to Lara. Lara is actually the one they wish to sacrifice in order to bring back Mathias, the leader of the Solarii and “the one true disciple” of Himiko.
We also learn about the four great calamities, which Jonah kept rambling about in earlier issues. Two have already happened (the flood from issue #1 and the burning sea from issue #4) and another happens in the form of the aforementioned rockslide. What they all have in common is that Lara is at the center of them. A fourth and final calamity must happen in order for Mathias to be resurrected, according the a prophecy. This has yet to happen.
Matsu-Sama, the leader of the Solarii worshippers, tells Sam about the four guardians. He is one of them as are his two daughters who themselves are the hosts of the monster women who have appeared previously. There is a fourth guardian who has yet to be revealed but I suspect is Danny, the man who saved Lara back in issue #3 and does so again in this issue. He claims to have worked for Lara’s father and that she can trust him but I’m not so sure she should.
The issue ends with the monster women showing up and threatening to kill Danny if Lara doesn’t surrender to them. Despite barely knowing him, Lara feels indebted to Danny for saving her twice so she lowers her weapon and gives herself up. She could have fought if she wanted to but perhaps she didn’t want to be responsible for having more blood on her hands.
The pace of this issue was fantastic and when I finished it I was surprised by how abrupt it felt because I was so engaged while reading it. This is the penultimate issue of the arc and it’s definitely leading to a finish that I’m excited for. In a way, it’s a bit of a retread of the video game but not so much that it hurts the book. With the way this issue went, I predict that the next one will have a very satisfying and thrilling conclusion.