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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DAMN Good Comics -- LAZARUS #1

Family above all.

That's the tagline provided in the back matter section of Lazarus #1, a new Image Comics series from writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark.  Set in an oh-so-trendy dystopia of powerful Families, Lazarus is the story of Forever Carlyle, a young woman skilled in the arts of combat and weaponry that happens to be able to resurrect herself in the inconvenient event that she's killed.  Like Lazarus, get it?

This first issue opens with a demonstration of said resurrection ability as Forever is shot three times and left for dead, only to rise a minute or two later and swiftly kill all three of her attackers.  As Forever relays the details of what happened to her doctor James, we get our first glimpse inside her head with hints that she isn't entirely satisfied being her Family's protector against people who are only looking for something to eat.

Rucka reinforces this initial drama of "problematic questions" by having James share his concern with Forever's brother Jonah.  It seems Jonah and James know far more than they're telling Forever, to the point where James is giving her stronger doses of oxycontin to keep her from "getting ideas."  A later scene underscores the series' dark tone, as Forever hesitantly executes an old man taking the rap for someone who provided access to the attackers.

As for the art, it's wonderful to see Rucka reunited with his Gotham Central creative partner Michael Lark once again.  The two mesh so well, with Lark's gritty realism enhancing everything Rucka is attempting to deliver to the readers.  He doesn't skimp on the brutality or violence, but it's never gratuitous and only adds to the overall storytelling.  The only problem area seems to be Lark's lettering, which often uses narrow word balloons that make the dialogue stilted, and confusing caption boxes that aren't distinct enough to differentiate between characters.  Hopefully these minor issues will be addressed before too long.

All in all, a promising introduction to the world of Forever Carlyle.  It's only a matter of time, of course, before Forever is able to resist what's being done to her and uncover what her Family is really doing.  However, comics like these are more about the ride than the destination and already there are plenty of unanswered questions to keep you coming back month after month.

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