Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Colors: Santi Arcas
Publisher: Image Comics
On Sale Date: July 24, 2013
“The world now lies divided not amongst political or geographic boundaries but amongst financial ones.” Doesn’t the world already lie amongst financial boundaries? That is why I love the concept behind Lazarus. I’m a sucker for satires that exaggerate the absurd economic gap in society. In issue one we are introduced to this world where a handful of Families rule and a small minority of people, appropriately labeled Serfs, work for these families. These Serfs aren’t simply farmers or iron workers, but highly educated in biotechnology and genetics, for example. The rest, an overwhelming majority of the population, are referred to as Waste (a metaphor for how they are perceived).
In issue two we see that Forever (sometimes called Eve) is continuing to struggle with the ethics of her role as the Family’s biogenetically enhanced protector. In issue one she was forced by her brother, Jonah, to execute an innocent man who falsely confessed to sabotaging the Family’s defenses and allowed a rival family, the Morrays, to attack. We see more evidence of narcissism and cruelty in Jonah and are introduced to more members of the dysfunctional family. Beth acts as a caring and protective big sister to Forever, Stephen is at this point no more than a foil to Jonah, and Johanna is apparently having a Lannister-style relationship with Jonah. Issue two hints that Jonah and Johanna are likely responsible for the sabotage as an excuse to go to war with the Morrays (who we learn to be a less prosperous family). We also see that these two have contempt for Forever and that all the siblings know some sort of secret about her origins. The father, however, refers to Eve as the “only one of them [that] is worth a damn.” Carlyle sends Forever on a special mission with a secret task. I won’t spoil how the issue ends.
The best comics are those whose stories are driven by character and whose characters are revealed through dialogue. Greg Rucka is masterful at weaving an intricate story and Michael larks noir style art is a perfect compliment for this dystopian satire. This might be my new favorite book: 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls for Lazarus.
Writer: Andrew M. Henderson
Artist: Orlando Baez
Colors: Eagle Gosselin
Coincidently, the other book I’m reviewing today also contains a dysfunctional family where the son is seeking to sabotage his father’s rule. In Noctua, vampires have come out of the closet (or coffin) and are struggling to be accepted into society. In fact, vampire is a racist term. The politically correct one is “transhumant.” Issue one opens with the vampire – sorry transhuman – Lucinius trafficking young women in order to feed on them. Lucinius and his men are attacked either by a man who can transform into an owl or who has an owl sidekick. I’m not sure. Anyway, this owl man, Noctua, decapitates Lucinius with his bare hands and sends the decapitated head to his father, Alucard Constans, who happens to be the godfather of vampi—sorry, transhumans. We get a back story for Noctua through a flashback, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it because of the confusing word bubbles and the darkness of the art. But I think that Solomon (Noctua) and his (then pregnant, now dead) wife were being discriminated against for being transhumans.
I appreciate the roman-style names of the va—transhumans, but they are a bit difficult to keep straight. What’s more difficult, however, is reading/viewing this book (see samples below). On some pages the word bubbles overwhelm the art to the extent that one, you can’t tell who is saying what, and two, you can’t see the art. On other pages the art is so dark that you can’t make out what is going on. While I appreciate the artist’s desire to match the darkness of the book with the colors on the page, it was extremely difficult to comprehend the story and distinguish characters. The art, when visible, was “rough” in my opinion. But I try to refrain from being too judgmental as everyone has different personal tastes in art. This art just wasn’t my bag, baby. While I like the concept of dealing with racism through vampires, I just couldn’t get invested into the characters or the story: 2 out of 5 Nerdskulls.