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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lazarus Volume 1. Family. Greg Rucka (Writer), Michael Lark (with Stefano Gaudiano & Brian Level) Art & Letters, Santi Arcas (Colours). Image Comics (2013)(

Very engaging and enjoyable dysopian science fiction. The world is strictly divided between the Families who control the wealth and resources and those who work for them and the Waste, the rest of humanity. Conflict is epidemic between Families and between Families and Waste, each Family has a super soldier, their Lazarus who protects them and fights for them. Enhanced to recover from fatal wounds, the Lazarus is the sword and shield of the family and Forever is the Lazarus for the Family Carlyle. When a conflict develops between the Carlyle and Moray families Forever is sent on a mission to manage it. The roots of the conflict lie within the Carlyle family and Forever has bigger problems than she realises. The story moves fast, the action is terrific and the plot neatly and sharply drawn.
Greg Ruck does something quite amazing, he takes and tells a fairly common story idea very well and then reveals the bleak cold heart at the centre of it and makes the whole story move to a different level. The context is nicely set up, it really is the Godfather writ large in a devastated world world. There are gangs who run things, and layers within those gangs, the small related group who run things and employees and then there is everyone else. Some a gangs themselves others are just the prey the gangs oppress for profit and fun. Conflict is completely inherent in this context, conflict between the gangs and the prey, conflict within the gangs between the inner and outer circles and most importantly, conflict within the inner circle.
Greg Rucka takes this context and uses it very well within its own terms. The cast are well developed and the cross currents between them credible and forceful. The work of the Lazarus as the final enforcer for the family and their necessarily ambiguous stature within the inner circle is very well detailed. Greg Rucka lulls the reader into a slight sense of familiarity and then reveals that there are dangerous depths that should have been seen and they give the story a bitter context that subtly alters everything that has gone before.
Michael Lark's art is a pleasure, the cast move and respond with force and vigour, the non-enhanced cast move naturally. The Carlyle family members all have a constant element on tension that arises directly from their context, they are all constantly moving on the edge of conflict as the pressures and demands of their position pull on them. They all have to manage their relationships with Forever carefully and with each other even more carefully. The only calm presence is the father and leader of the Carlyle family, a man very comfortable with using and keeping violent power. The fight scenes are stunning, Forever is a hand-to-hand fighter so the action is always up close and personal. The Lazarus effect is using sparingly and effectively to underscore the action rather than deflate.
Santi Artcas colours capture and express the emotional tones of the story with subtle grace, they give depth to the cast and the context, the mostly muted tones echo the general devastation and the desert colours are wonderful. A great story really well told by very talented creators.

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