Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lazarus, Book One: Family

Lazarus is an ongoing comic book series, and Family collects its first four issues. The premise is a simple one: in the not too far future, class disparities are out of control, and rich people consolidate their belongings into compounds. Their ultimate possession is their Lazarus, a genetically engineered human that they treat like family but that is a consummate killing machine, defender, and warrior. The Lazarus's services are especially needed because the downtrodden people who live in the Wastes are always trying to scavenge and steal necessities, plus other wealthy families jockey for possessions and power.

I found the story in this book engaging and exciting. The characters are pretty unlikeable for the most part (think Kardasians but more bloodthirsty and duplicitous), but part of the joy comes from seeing how they maneuver and try to outsmart each other. The artwork appears to be photo-referenced, which is not always my favorite. Here it is well suited to the story though, particularly the action scenes, and I like its slightly gritty look. The whole enterprise reads and feels like a good, thrilling, perhaps not too deep, action movie.

This series was created by writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark, and it features colors by Santiago Arcas. Rucka has written tons of comic books for the big 2 companies as well as a number of his own works, including Queen & Country and Whiteout. He has won multiple Eisner Awards, and he also writes novels. Lark has drawn lots of comics as well, and co-creating this series with Rucka may be his largest claim to fame. Arcas has done most of his coloring for DC Comics. Rucka and Lark speak more about their work on this book in this interview. There is also a Tumblr dedicated to the series.

With one exception, most of the reviews I have read portray the book positively.  Publishers Weekly called it "top-notch SF worldbuilding." Scott VanderPloeg called it "a rewarding page turner." The reviewer at Collected Editions called it "a pleasant surprise." In a very different take on the book, Abhay called it "a uniquely obnoxious comic experience."
a uniquely obnoxious comic experience

Lazarus, Book One was published by Image Comics. There is a preview available here from Comic Book Resources. I suggest it for mature readers, as is it pretty violent and there is some adult language.

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