Jul 3, 2014

Comic Book Review: Lazarus Volume 1: Family

In a dystopian future where resources are scarce and overpopulation is a great problem, a few elite families control everything. How can these families ensure their own safety and squash out any revolts from the serf population or the waste population? By genetically engineering a young woman with regenerative Wolverine-like healing ability, a knack for killing, inability to die herself, and unwavering loyalty to her family. Forever Carlyle is beautiful and deadly, but she's finding herself in the midst of some family power struggles that leave too much bloodshed for her liking.

Lazarus Volume 1: Family collects issues #1-4 of Image Comics' ongoing series nominated for an Eisner Award. This is the forth consecutive Image Comics' trade paperback reviewed by Organized Remains; also see: Revival Volume 1: You're Among Friends, Fatale Book 1: Death Chases Me, and East of West Volume 1: The Promise. The writer of this breakthrough Image series, Greg Rucka is well known in the comics industry and is a four-time Eisner Award Winner: I Am an Avenger #2, Gotham Central: Half a Life, Whiteout: Melt, and Queen & Country. For this book he reunites with his tried and true artist partner, Michael Lark, who helped bring the art of I Am an Avenger and Gotham Central to life for Rucka's stories.

Maybe not everyone who's ever picked up a comic book understands starvation or class warfare on a personal level, but this book effectively reaches out and touches that piece of us that understands family drama. Brother and sister are cliquey, little sister is the black sheep because of daddy's favoritism. Who can be trusted? Who is safe? Outside the soap opera story, we don't get a lot of experience with the sci-fi elements of this book. In a setting where the likes of the Carlyle family evidently has technology far superior than what we have in today's day and age, our only experience with it is watching Forever take her pills  and injections to make sure she heals right. Or something. There's a lot left unexplained in this book, so don't go in expecting a lot of answers. Where this book steers away from exposition, it makes up for in fast-paced action-driven story. At only 96 pages this is a quick and engaging read.

The art in this series deserves mentioning because it's a style that caught my eye. Often times details are soft or played down and shadowing is used to fill in the space. Departing from a need for realistic apples-must-look-exactly-like-apples style, this allows the eyes and imagination to fill in the blanks. There's something rough yet old fashioned about the style, as though it was softly penciled and shot right to coloring without inking.

Final Say: Lazarus didn't take me long to read and for the better, made me want to buy the next book. I initially felt ripped off for only getting 4 issues instead of 5, especially given the way the book ends, but it was a suitable ending. For so much of the book you desperately want something, and on the final page it suggests it will finally happen, but you have to get the next book to see it play out. It's a bittersweet feeling having finished Lazarus Book 1, but it is undoubtedly a high quality book. Overall rating...

4 / 5

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