A few years back, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (along with Ed Brubaker) won a lot of critical acclaim for their work on DC’s Gotham Central. Rucka and Lark have reunited for Lazarus at Image. (Brubaker’s already been Fatale at Image for over a year, so the primary creators for Gotham Central seem to have relocated.)
If you want to see a preview of Lazarus, head over here. If you’re already planning on buying it, go have a look at that link before you start. It’s a prologue that isn’t in issue #1 and will give you a little more background on the setting.
Lazarus is a dystopian science fiction that takes the themes of corporations taking over governing functions and extends it to a feudal system where the families who own the corporations rule like royalty, the skilled employees comprise the court and everyone else is a serf. And the word “serf” is used to describe serfs, so there aren’t a lot of niceties offered to pretty up the situation.
In the world, the families each have a champion. A “Lazarus” they call it, but you might find “knight” a comparable term. The champions are genetically enhanced (they tend not to stay dead) and spearhead any wetworks the family needs doing to preserve their place in the world.
This is the story of Forever, the Lazarus for the Carlyle family. If you read the preview, you’ll find she’s a bit more than just genetically enhanced. She’s also not entirely happy with the wetworks part of her duties, but such is the lot of heroic leads.
Rucka and Lark are really just setting the table in this issues. We have the outline of a nightmarish new social structure that takes the 1% to new (or perhaps to very old) extremes. There are betrayals. Conflict outside and inside the “family.” There’s also a lot of atmosphere to this comic, stemming from both the art and the tone of the narrative.
It isn’t always clear where a comic will be after six issues, but this has the feel of a political thriller set more 10 minutes into the future than 5. Class conflict is definitely going to be a subtext, as is the nature of power.
Rucka says in text piece of the first issue that Eric Stephenson green lit Lazarus based on hearing that Rucka and Lark wanted to do a title together. Realistically, if you’ve been reading comics for over 5 years, you’re probably already going to know if you’re going to give this a try based on that pairing.
If you’re on the fence, this is a very strong first issue. If you like things in the genres of political thrillers, not-too-distant dystopian futures, and maaaaaybe military science fiction/espionage (depending on how far they take those elements), this well worth your attention. The preview is very representative of tone and style. Issue one expands on the social order and political overtones, but that should give you a pretty good idea if you’re going to like it or not.
Image adds another strong title to their A list and that’s getting to be a very strong A list.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.