A look at Greg Rucka’s “Lazarus”

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Comics
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More comics!  Because I like them, so shut up.
Anyway. . .  Today we’ll take a look at Lazarus, written by Greg Rucka, art by Michael Lark, and colors by Santi Arcas.

Cover of Issue 2 of Lazarus
Yeah, that’s the cover for issue #2.  Because that’s Forever, our main character, the Lazarus of the Carlyle family looking like a complete and utter badass.  The series is fairly new (issue #6 just came out last week [2/5/14]), and I think it’s fantastic.  I started reading it on the recommendation of a friend of mine.  She has pretty excellent taste in comics, so I trusted her and bought the first several issues (all that were out at the time).  I wasn’t sure with the first couple issues if I was going to like the series (I’m super cautious and tend to reserve judgement for the first few storylines with new material), but I already knew that Rucka had once again written an awesome female lead.  Which was a large part of the recommendation, because E.D. and I both like how Rucka writes women.

Having read issue #6 over the weekend, I’ve already decided that I like the series (fast, right?).  It’s a brand-new dystopian near-future.  Corporations and “Families” have taken control over large regions.  The 1% are the members of the families, the ruling elite.  Below them are the serfs, those not members of the family who nonetheless work for and contribute to the goals of the family.  The family provides for them: shelter, food, protection, etc.  Everyone else, the vast majority of the world’s population, are “waste”.  We’ve only begun to see how some of these people live, and a lot of it hits pretty close to home.  They sign themselves into ridiculous long-term contracts with the family in charge of their region, agreeing to give incredible percentages of the crops they grow, or whatever, back to the family in return for permission to use the land owned by (and more or less abandoned by) the families.

I don’t want to give too much away today, and we’re still learning about Forever, the Carlyles, and the world they live in.  But I do want to encourage you to invest in this series if you get the chance.  And definitely go for the back issues!  I don’t know if the back-matter will be included as content in the trades, but it’s very helpful to understanding the world.  Rucka doesn’t spend a lot of time showing us the world and explaining everything to us, he just throws us right into the story and we get to learn as we go.  But he does provide timelines and bios in the same pages as the letters.  And in several issues, we get a short essay (for lack of a better word) from Rucka about his thoughts on his world and what in our world has inspired various elements.  He spends a lot of time reading articles about technology, biotech, genetics, etc, etc.  And he has some intriguing ideas about how we could get from where we are now to his world.  And it seems very plausible.  Additionally, the letters are hilarious.  Almost every issue, we get someone who is upset about not understanding the setting.  In fact, in issue #6, someone asked for an alien invasion to help define the global status quo (because Skrulls fix everything?).  In the beginning there was also a lot of negative feedback about Forever (mostly sexist stuff, like wishing she were “hotter”, whatever that means), and while the letters would make me grumpy, Greg’s responses to them always made me laugh.

So please: do yourself a favor and go read Lazarus.  Buy them for your daughters (older teens, it has some mature material), buy them for your SONS (I don’t understand the resistance from males in reading about female characters), buy them for yourself.  Alternatively, you could borrow them from someone you know or if you’re incredibly lucky, find a public library that subscribes to single issue comics and borrow them there.  But the bottom line is, this series is pretty amazing.  Forever is amazing.  Greg Rucka is amazing.  Do it.  Do it now.



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