From its opening page, Lazarus #1 lets you know that you are in for something out of the ordinary. Perhaps it’s the detached blow-by-blow description of a fatal attack on our main character or the bevy of new terms for population we are exposed to, but you notice immediately just how authentic Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus #1 feels. This is not a haphazard pasting together of science fiction tropes, but a finely crafted and through creation of a new fictional universe.
The book is all about the harshness of being a have-not set against the crassness of being one of the elite. Here the rich treat those less fortunate more as cattle than as people. Rucka uses this idea to illustrate how usually benign words like “family” and “love” can be sinister when put into the right context. In fact, throughout Lazarus #1, Rucka creates a dissonance between the incredibly violent acts happening in the images and the inner monologue we are hearing during those events. This is a nasty world, and it’s because of that fact that our main character shines so brightly.
“Forever” Carlyle has done some horrible things, but her reticence to do them, and her singular guilt, paint a picture of someone more complex than her surroundings. Rucka also uses her journey as one of two mysteries in the story. By focusing on something as tried and true as a murder investigation, Rucka is able to ground the alien world of Lazarus into something completely tangible for the reader.
From the book’s starkly beautiful cover to its first bloodstained pages, artist Michael Lark takes the world Greg Rucka has set up and breathes life into it. Lark makes Forever Carlyle a walking breathing human being filled with emotions, insecurities and the horrible responsibility of being her family’s protector. She’s also a major ass kicker, and in the action scenes Lark’s pencils make you feel that this is someone you don’t want to mess with.
Lazarus #1 is a great first issue and a promising start to yet another great book coming from Image Comics. For those who felt Greg Rucka’s run on The Punisher came to an end much too soon, you will find a lot of the same big ideas. Rucka specializes in violence with consequence and the exploration of that violence affects, not just on the victims, but on the people who perpetrate it. However, these messages don’t get in the way of Lazarus #1 also being a damned entertaining comic book. At its core this is a great science fiction noir story with gorgeous art by Michael Lark and it should on your pull list from now on.