Comic Review: Lazarus #1
Lazarus is the brand new series from writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark. Known for their work on the critically acclaimed Gotham Central series, the two are here with a creator owned series from Image Comics.
The comic’s title page sets the scene somewhat with a short succinct summary of the near-future setting. Specifically we’re told ‘Wealth is power,’ certainly the most prominent theme of Lazarus. The issue then opens with an explosive start showing a woman being shot multiple times with a revolver. Laid dead upon the floor in her own blood, her attackers then move on leaving her discarded and forgotten… She then wakes up. At that moment it’s clear we’re not reading about an ordinary woman.
Once the intro is over with we get a look at the world of Lazarus. The effort that Rucka has put into world building is blatantly evident as we’re teased glimpses of the wider goings on and meet the immediate cast. I hesitate to give any more details as I’d hate to spoil the issue, but I will say that Lazarus’ world is dark and depressingly possible. It’s the sort of sci-fi dystopia that you can imagine almost happening if things continue down a certain path. It gives the story a grounded sense where, as promised, wealth is power. The use of the term ‘wealth’ rather than just money is undoubtedly a fittingly deliberate choice. Here the gap between the rich and poor is unfathomably wide. Those at the bottom are desperately poor, their lives are in the hands of others, while those at the top are comfortably content.
Lark’s artwork is, as expected, the perfect match. His dark gritty style fits the miserable tone of the world. The action scenes have a painful brutality to them, there’s a blunt realism to them that makes you almost feel every blow. The violence is wonderfully portrayed in that it doesn’t glamourise it as some comics do, it looks as horrible and dangerous as it would in real life. The colours provided by Santi Arcas give everything a dank dreary feel, in some books it might be seen as a negative but here it’s fantastically apt. Everything is washed with gloomy blues and blacks.
At the end of the issue I found myself desperate to see more. The pacing is precisely as it should be however. Nothing feels rushed but equally everything feels relevant. We only really meet three key characters this issue but all three are compelling. With only glimpses at their motivations there’s a lot of questions left over. But it’s the type of questions you want to have, the ones that pull you in.
The story and art work together to build a grim but grounded setting that I want to see more of. This feels like the first brief look at a long story and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing where things go. As a bonus the back of the book has an extended explanation by Rucka about the book’s origins and inspirations. There’s also some eery and occasionally dismaying factoids of how the book’s plot isn’t as unlikely as it seems. There’s simply little to criticise here, it’s a very strong opening issue that gives us some action and plenty of setup. Anyone who’s a fan of hard sci-fi, or near-future stories like the Deus Ex video games, will be especially right at home. Meanwhile even if this isn’t usually your thing the story is engaging and the visuals look exceptional. Simply put: go give it a chance.