Last of Us is one of the most popular video games of 2013. Set twenty years after a spore-based disease turned most of the human population into violent, zombie-like Infected, the game follows Joel as he journeys across the United States with his companion Ellie. The Last of Us: American Dreams comic mini-series is a prequel to the video game. It chronicles the adventures of Ellie and her friend Riley in one of the last remaining quarantine zones sheltering survivors. Through their eyes, we explore the world of Last of Us, a grim future full of Infected and desperate humans trying to survive.
Comic is true to the video game
Great character development
Lack of Infected attacks in the mini-series
Artwork seems out of place in this dark, bleak future
LAST OF US: AMERICAN DREAMS #4
Writer: Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks
Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Editor: Brendan Wright
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Last of Us: American Dreams: Ellie follows a student named Riley to an abandoned mall where they meet Winston, a local patrolman. After a nice horse riding lesson, Winston is called to duty after the Fireflies, a rebel anti-military group, attack outside the quarantine area. Seeing this as an opportunity to avoid the military drafting her at sixteen, Riley, with Ellie in tow, find the Fireflies and help them escape from the military with some smoke grenades. On the run from the military, they are ambushed by Infected. They are eventually saved by the Fireflies, who capture the young pair and take them to their secret hideout.
DO NOT CALL THEM “ZOMBIES”
Last of Us: American Dreams #4 is the last issue in Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks’s mini-series. Ellie and Riley are captured by the Fireflies, and things go from bad to worse. Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks keep to the dark themes and bleak tone of the video game that made it so popular. For example, like the video games, humans such as military troops, Fireflies, and smugglers can be much worse than the Infected that lie outside the quarantine area. In a world where there is very little order and the military controls everything, it is easy to understand their hostility. There are many instances of this in this comic, like when smugglers confront the Fireflies. Unlike the video games, there is an absence of Infected in this issue, and were rarely seen throughout the series. Still, the characters make up for the lack of zombies. Riley desire to get out of her situation is horribly crushed, a common theme in the comic book and the video game. Marlene, who is a prominent character in the video games, makes an appearance in this issue. She serves as Ellie’s protector and mother figure in this comic, and considering what happens to her in the video games, her current motivations clash with her future goals. Meanwhile, Ellie is a silent observer to the events transpiring before her. She does not actively participate, only when called upon to act at the end. This is similar to her role as the escort character in the video games.
ELLIE VERSUS THE WORLD
Faith Erin Hick’s artwork completes the Last of Us: American Dream’s final issue. Her characters greatly resemble those of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series art. Compared to the realism of the video game, the art comes off as cartoon-like. The colors help portray a dark tone throughout the series, but her use of wide, stylized eyes do not fit this type of comic book. Unfortunately, this takes away from the brutal and violent nature of the Last of Us world. Despite this odd artistic choice, there are some powerful scenes helped by Faith Erin Hick’s panels.
BOTTOM LINE: A SOLID TRIBUTE TO THE VIDEO GAME
For anyone who was a fan of the Last of Us video game, this is a great pickup. If you are not familiar with Last of Us, you may get lost trying to decipher the plots, themes and characters. Although there is a lack of Infected in this zombie horror mini-series, it gives a great deal of background to some of the main characters and the Last of Us world. Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks do an excellent job aligning their comic to the video game.