In the near future, the world has been split into territories: each controlled by a powerful family who use their resources to keep what’s theirs and defend their domains. Each of these families has a child known as their Lazarus, an enforcer who has been modified specifically for combat and to repair themselves when injured and/or killed. Such is the world of Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s comic series Lazarus.
The story opens with Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of her family, at a doctor’s appointment. She recounts the entire story of her latest fight to her doctor, is treated and then sent on her way back to the family’s agricultural facility, Harvest One, where the incident occurred. The investigation determines that it was either “Waste” (humans who are not in serfdom to the Carlyle family) or serfs from the rival Morray family that broke in, but they could not have gained entry unless the door had been opened from the inside. A brief confrontation with all the senior staff follows and after a brutal solution, all are dismissed.
The family is summoned to their father’s compound for a meeting and it becomes readily apparent that the Carlyles are not exactly a loving bunch. When Forever is asked to remain behind to speak privately with their father, the others jealously bicker in another room, and actually resort to physical violence against one another. There are broad hints at something going on within the family and that some of it has to do with Forever herself.
It is apparent that she is not considered on equal footing with the rest of her family by some, as if she is more property than family member– for example, the doctor reassures her that all conversations will remain confidential, but then immediately calls someone to report on her condition and administered treatments. Her siblings seem to be jealous of the attention Forever receives and the trust placed in her by their father because when Forever is sent to broker a truce with the Morray family, some of them put schemes into motion and her return trip almost ends terribly. There is an interesting bonus comic in the back of volume one that gives great insight into why some members of the family might feel the way they do, and I’m glad it was included. Not only is it a beautiful short story, but because it also gives a bit of context.
The story of Forever Carlyle and her family is intense. As one might imagine, since she is their enforcer, there is violence and bloodshed. It’s not the kind of bloodshed that remains off page, either. So this might not be for everyone and certainly isn’t for younger readers.
The world that Greg Rucka has created in Lazarus is bleak and unforgiving – serve a family or scrape by however you can as Waste. The Waste are only mentioned a couple of times in this volume, so I’m curious to find out if they become a part of the larger story down the road.
The relationships are well formed and intricate, and shortly after starting the book I knew who I did and didn’t like. Rucka is well-known in the comics world and has worked with many different publishers on several titles including Batman, Elektra, Black Widow, and Hellboy.
Michael Lark’s art is quite realistic and well-drawn. In some scenes, there is the definite impression of the body language between the characters – something that doesn’t always come across so easily. The two have worked together before and I am excited to discover other projects as well as more Lazarus.
Currently, Lazarus is going strong, with three graphic novel collections currently available and individual issues still being released (There is also talk that the series is being developed for television.) This is an incredible story. If interested, your local comic book shop should be able to hook you up.