“The Last of Us: American Dreams”

“The Last of Us: American Dreams”

As many might know, I’m a player and gigantic fan of the PS4 video game The Last of Us and its sequel The Last of Us Part II. I have a post planned where I’m going to unpack my views of the storyline and characters, and I’ve now gone through a four-part comic/graphic novel which was released some time ago (2013, by Dark Horse Comics): The Last of Us: American Dreams.

Spoiler fair warning: if you haven’t played the original The Last of Us, and the DLC add-on for it Left Behind, and are planning to please stop reading now!

Cover of American Dreams, captured on the iPad Kindle app

American Dreams, written by The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann, with additional authoring by Faith Erin Hicks and artwork by Hicks and Rachelle Rosenberg, provides additional back story to Ellie, and takes place about one year before the flashback events of Left Behind. Ellie is new at the military boarding school in the Boston quarantine zone, and we see the beginnings of her friendship with Riley.

13-year-old Ellie as drawn by Faith Ellen Hicks

It’s a great addition to the TLOU canon. We also get to see a deceased character mentioned in Left Behind, and an pre-The Last of Us introduction to Fireflies’ leader Marlene, and you learn the origin of the letter from Ellie’s mother that you can read by accessing her backpack in the game.

The artwork is different from the game, but captures the feel of the universe very well. Glad I purchased it, and yes, it’s a quick read.

The core story is Ellie and Riley’s first walkabout from the school. They visit the mall also visited in Left Behind, and one gets a very good sense of Ellie’s mind and how she envisions what life could have been absent the Cordyceps apocalypse. Ellie has a vision of the arcade as it should have been, before returning to the present as she has a sense of “It’s coming for you…too late.”

The flashback aspect is something used to great effect in The Last of Us Part II, and I can’t help but wonder if the genesis of that owes American Dreams a lot. It’s important to remember that Ellie never had a real childhood, and that a lot of her character revolves around her trying to grasp things of a life she should have had.

The Last of Us: American Dreams can be had as a one volume set (it was originally released in four parts) for Amazon Kindle for the affordable price of $3.99. Hard copies are more expensive. If you want to go that route, I suggest checking out your local comics stores.

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