Review | The Last of Us: American Dreams #1

We take a look at the first comic that explores the story surrounding Naughty Dog's upcoming game, The Last of Us.
  • Writer: Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks
  • Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Orig. Published: April 3, 2013
  • Price: $3.99

The PlayStation brand is popular, thanks to its increasing library of original IPs developed by very talented teams. This is especially true when one developer comes to mind, one who has stuck with PlayStation since the PSOne era – Naughty Dog. Starting with Crash Bandicoot, moving forward with the staple Uncharted franchise, the team brings out yet another original title with their groundbreaking title, The Last of Us. To further build hype for what is looking like the game to beat this year, the creative director of Naughty Dog – Neil Druckmann – teamed up with breakout writer Faith Erin Hicks to deliver The Last of Us: American Dreams, a 4-issue mini series telling the story of Ellie before the events of the game. Issue one released today and kick started the mini series off, but does it live up to the hype that the game is showcasing?

From the moment the first page is opened, readers are hit with a shocking twist – the art style. While I am a fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work with Scott Pilgrim vs The World, the clearly inspired art style of Faith Erin Hicks just doesn’t seem to hit the style and tone of The Last of Us, especially as you progress through the book and take note of the clear mature elements that both the game and now comic showcase. Proportions are also off at times, with Ellie appearing almost as tall as a full grown male adult, which is just incredibly odd.

The story opens up with Ellie being transported to a military boarding school and being welcomed rather violently as the new kid. It’s at this point that it becomes clear we are already in the post-apocalyptic world seen in the game’s trailers. The actions of surrounding characters help build this point, along with several nods to the infected. The first issue seems to set up a heavy focus on the character of Ellie and how she has become this on the edge survivor we have come to see in the game’s demos and trailers. Some questions are raised that are sure to be answered in future issues, leaving much to the reader’s curiosity. This, however, can be a problem in itself as several issues are raised in terms of confusion.

Ending with a cliffhanger that could potentially open up the next three issues to a wider area, potential could be seen through the explicit dialogue and copycat art style. The Last of Us: American Dreams is an interesting, albeit enjoyable, read for those who could put up with the punk kid, street talk and out of tone art style. Those looking forward to the game may find themselves enjoying the comic even more, diving into the deeper thoughts of the incredibly interesting character of Ellie. Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks have three more issues to impress, but for now, the comic stands among other mediocre video game tie-in comic books.

Final Score: 3/5