Lazarus; Trade Paperback Vol. 5
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark with Tyler Boss
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters: Jodi Wynne
Review by PeteR
Lazarus Trade Paperback Vol. 5 reprints issues #22 through 26 of the on-going series by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. If you are new to Lazarus, here is a brief and incomplete description of what’s going on. The Earth is ruled by 16 families. Lazarus focuses on the Carlyle Family who rules America west of the Mississippi river up through western and northern Canada. There are three classes of society in the Carlyle sphere of influence; Family, Serfs and Wastes. Each family has a single person who defends that family in duels of state and on the battlefield. They are called Lazarus’s because they are nearly indestructible. Each Lazarus is part genetically modified human and part bionics. The Carlyle’s Lazarus is a women named Forever. She has been trained her entire life to believe she is a member of the Carlyle Family. She’s not but the rest of the Carlyle family (now consisting of the Patriarch father along with two daughters and a son) continue to make Forever believe that she is a genetic member of their clan to maintain an emotional hold on her.
Recently, the Carlyle Family went to war against the Hock family. Dr. Hock rules east of the Mississippi up through Nova Scotia and the southern part of Greenland. Forever was badly damaged during the battle of Duluth and it may take a while for her to be battle capable again. Meanwhile an eleven year old version of Forever, named Eve has appeared at the Carlyle Sequoia compound and is being trained to be the next Lazarus for the Carlyle family. Also at the Sequoia compound is Sonja Bittner who is the Lazarus for the Bittner family. They control central Canada, Switzerland, and Scandinavia. Although Sonja is the Lazarus for the Bittner family, she had been used as the proxy for Dr. Hock in a duel between the Carlyle’s and the Hocks. Forever defeated Sonja and brought her to Sequoia for her to heal. All of the Lazarus’s (or Lazari) know each other and are respectful if not outright friendly with each other, with the exception of Captain Mueller of the Rausling family. This makes sense since they are a class strata unto themselves. This becomes complicated when they are forced to fight one another.
Still with me? There is a lot more going on than just the events described above but that basically gets us to the start of Lazarus Vol. 5. Some of the other blanks will hopefully be filled in as we go along with this review.
Writer Greg Rucka starts Lazarus Vol. 5 with the Carlyle family fully at war with the Hock’s while trying to defend their borders from other families who are waiting to see any sign of weakness. Patriarch Malcom Carlyle is slowly recovering from Dr. Hock’s attempt to poison him. His daughter Johanna is now in charge of the family after taking over from her older brother Stephen who was too indecisive to run the Carlyle Empire in a time of war.
Forever has started to figure out that her origin and history are not what she thinks they are. We, the reader find out that she is the seventh version of Forever. When the Lazari of other families die, they are replaced with whomever that family has chosen from their populace. The Carlyle Family has cracked the genetic code to extended life and youth so it was not hard to convince Forever that she has been around longer than she actually has been
To make matters even worse, Vassalovka (Russia) has unleashed their Lazarus.
There is a lot of science in Lazarus. How each of the Lazari function, biochemical warfare even medical issues are explained in context of the narrative that are believable. Nothing stops a story in its tracks faster than expounding on bad science. Greg Rucka created a world where the science and medicine fit seamlessly. He clearly had to have done a great deal of research to craft this series. Since this is a Greg Rucka, it goes without saying that all discussion of battlefield tactics and deployment are spot on.
Artist Michael Lark (Captain America, Batman: Nine Lives, Gotham Central) has the ability to convincingly draw everything from battlefields to ballrooms. I particularly am impressed by how he choreographs fight scenes. Lark creates the best sword duels outside of the Highlander television series. The battle in the last chapter of Lazarus Vol. 5 will keep you riveted.
Pages 2 and 3 of the first chapter of Lazarus Vol. 5 depict a squadron of soldiers with jet packs flying out of the back of a cargo plane. Take a moment to appreciate colorist’s Santi Arcas work on the light trail from the back of the plane on page 2. The heat exhaust from the jet engines dissipating into the evening is gorgeous. Acras adds the same detail to the exhaust from some of the jet packs. That is just one example of his terrific use of color on this series.
There are too many different lettering fonts to count. Every computer system, communication device, missive and map has a distinct lettering format. Letter Jodi Wynne (Wonder Woman) uses every arrow in the lettering quiver to supply each scene of Lazarus Vol. 5 with distinguishable words that support the scenario of the moment.
Why you should buy this book? Lazarus Vol. 5 combines the best parts of political intrigue, science fiction, combat action and sympathetic characters into one series. The Lazarus issues up through issue #21 has been reprinted in four trade paperback as well as in two hardcover collections. If you are new to Lazarus, your comic store of choice can easily hook you up with these. Lazarus Vol. 5 continues this incredible epic and will leave you chomping at the bit to find out what happens next.