Forever Changing — Lazarus #1 Review

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Family is at the basis of Greg Rucka’s new Image series, Lazarus. Set in a future where oligarchies control the world’s resources, each Family stakes its power with money.

That money is represented in each Family’s Lazarus, the one chosen to defend and protect the Family’s interests. Given the best in technology, training, and physical care, each Lazarus can go above and beyond what normal humans can in the line of duty.

Rucka’s story focuses on Forever Carlyle, who begins this issue recounting the last time she died. Forever lost one of her lives defending her family’s property, and were it not for the technological advancements given to her, she would have stayed dead.

Death is familiar to Forever, and so is combat. Five pages almost devoid of any wording show how capable Forever is at killing, and Michael Lark’s artwork is a sight to behold. Lark’s panels are clear, detailed, and cinematic — the action sequence is methodical and packed with force as Forever disarms, dodges, and makes easy work of the three men.

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Though it’s just another day in the life of Forever, something has affected her on an emotional, perhaps spiritual level. Conflicted by guilt — the attackers broke into the supposedly uninhabited guest house, hoping to find food — Forever confides in James, the Carlyle Family’s chief physician.

Things continue to go south for Forever when she heads to a facility attacked by soldiers from the Morray Family. Working under the assumption that someone in the facility opened the door for the Morrays to invade, Forever is forced to make an example of a senior member of the technical staff who willingly takes a bullet to protect his own family.

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The issue is loaded with emotional tension, and Rucka’s scripts are tack-sharp. There are no wasted panels and no fat left to be trimmed. Lazarus is a title that mirrors its main character — efficient and precise to the point. Through Forever, a character whose given name suggests her family’s confidence — or arrogance — in itself, a fine line is drawn that will divide families and reveal the person she really is.

Lark’s artwork, for the bulk of the book that isn’t loaded with action, is well-composed. Characters are expressive, and Lark uses body language to convey what’s happening in the text bubbles.

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To that end, Santi Arcas’ colors are atmospheric with tones and shades influenced by lighting. The overlays on Lark’s inks add dimension, and while Arcas’ colors are a bit muted and flat, they’re appropriate for the book and subtle in laying down the various moods.

Lazarus is very much a futuristic sci-fi story grounded in a tale rooted in the Occupy movement. Issues concerning life and what some people will do for family are explored, bringing in a deeper question: What is family?

The word forever suggests stability, strength, and predictability. Forever is a constant. In Lazarus issue #1, Rucka shows how many levels he’s working on. Take a look at the main character’s name. Forever Carlyle couldn’t be more aptly — or ironically — named.

Lazarus #1 (2013)
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Words: Greg Rucka
Art: Michael Lark
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters: Michael Lark

Next Issue: Lazarus #2 Review

Buy Lazarus #1 from Things From Another World!

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