Greg Rucka, fine purveyor of tales has once again delivered with his independent opus – Lazarus. Aided on art duties by his co-creator Michael Lark, they craft a story of a woman who lives for family and duty, not knowing that she in fact was created to do so. Featuring deceit, lies, action, honour, betrayal and many other concepts, all of which make for a great book, it is a joy to read. Much like the many books they have written and drawn beforehand, they pour their all into this story and make it something special that any reader can enjoy.
The book takes place sometime in the future United States with an attack on the Carlyle compound and their Lazarus, Forever, getting killed. It is a violent act that starts off the book on a path that could lead to war with another Family, but as the reader soon finds out, masks something else entirely. Members of the Family Carlyle seem to be the same as everyone else; they fight and bicker and scheme, but being in charge of their ‘kingdom’, their actions have larger consequences and usually ends up with Forever, the house Lazarus, taking care of the problems they create.
Rucka has created a very intriguing story that almost seems to draw parallels to today’s society. Introducing a class system is a smart idea and really sets the book apart from other future-type tales. Three main classes are represented with the Family being the highest, depicting the ruling caste in charge of various territories of the country. The Family is much like the government and the rich today; in charge and powerful and ruling all by means the average person does not have. The middle class or the Serfs live to serve the family at their whim, surviving day to day on little but the Family’s good will. Finally the Waste or the poor, represent literally everyone else in today’s economy – the unfortunate, the homeless and those left to fend for themselves and make their way as best they can. Whether this alliteration was intentional or accidental, it is interesting to note just how much the average reader can relate to the class system concept.
Resurrection though not a new idea, is a great one when used in conjunction with that of a bodyguard. It opens up so many possibilities for story ideas, especially as Forever believes that she is a member of the Family, when the reader knows different. It also lets the reader question what is going to happen as those possible storylines that have not, or may not come to fruition keep the reader guessing. What if Forever finds out the truth? What will happen if she declares war on her own family? What if the Family turns on her? The tale, while keeping you hooked on the actions currently taking place, is thought-provoking when thinking about the bigger picture and possible outcomes.
Lark who has proven himself on many fine books from Gotham Central to Captain America is the artist who brings Forever and her world to life. His art is a perfect fit to illustrate a dystopian world and seems re-invigorated from his previous efforts on Winter Soldier and the aforementioned Captain America. His work was by no means terrible by any meaning of the word, but moving onto a creator-owned property, by perhaps having a personal stake in the book, has made him take it up a notch. His depiction of Forever is perfect, making her strong, tall and almost regal – more so than the rest of her family members who are supposed to be the rulers of their particular territory. The action scenes are dynamic and exciting and the moments between the scheming members of the Family as they plot amongst themselves is enthralling and all of that is in no small part due to Michael Lark’s great pencils.
Lazarus, which has only a handful of issues released, including a collection of the first four issues recently, is a definite must-buy for any fan of genre books. It is written and drawn expertly and features one of the best science-fiction tales being published today. Currently being released by Image Comics, it has joined the ranks of other independent books by big-name creators making a splash outside of the Big Two. Thanks to Rucka, Lark and their book Lazarus, they have now made the comic book landscape all the much brighter for its existence.
4.5 out of 5