Lazarus #1 (Comic) Review

Lazarus #1 (Comic) Review

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.

 

Punisher by Greg Rucka Vol. 2 Review

Punisher by Greg Rucka Vol. 2 Review

Punisher by Greg Rucka volume 2 continues the brilliant adventures of Frank Castle under the pen of Greg Rucka, and really kicks the series into high gear. As enjoyable as the first five issues of the series were (collected in Volume 1), it isn’t until these issues where the series really develops, and takes on a whole new life and direction. With this collection, it becomes clear that the first five issues were mere prelude to where Rucka wanted to go with Frank Castle and Rachel Cole-Alves, and the direction he takes the book is extremely riveting and interesting. Throughout Frank Castle’s entire career as the Punisher, he’s had a few partners, but they’ve only ever been behind-the-scenes partners, like Microchip, helping him to coordinate his missions but never outright taking part in them, out on the front lines. In this collection Frank Castle and Rachel Cole-Alves finally meet face to face, with Rachel joining up with Frank, to carry out her mission of vengeance.

What has set Rucka’s take on Punisher apart from all other depictions I’ve seen in the past is how Rucka tells the story without ever getting inside Punisher’s head directly to unload exposition or narration on the reader. It makes Frank much more mysterious and deadly in his own book, and also gives the reader a greater sense of tension in every scene he takes part in, because we don’t know exactly what he’s going to do, as it isnt’t telegraphed by omniprescient narration. This volume collects Punisher #6-10, Avenging Spider-Man #6 and Daredevil #11. Issue #10 and the issues of Avenging Spider-Man and Daredevil in this volume make up the Omega Effect crossover, which was ostensibly about an item that Daredevil had in his possession, but by the end of the story felt much more like a Punisher-centric story, as Frank and Rachel took centre stage for much of the story. Greg Rucka is an extremely talented writer, and the way in which he plots his stories is well thought-out, with an eye towards long-term planning. Everything happens for a reason in this book, and the interactions between Frank and Rachel are the highlights of this volume. Frank is reluctant to take on a partner, but it feels quite different this time around, almost like he’s training a younger, female version of himself to be prepared for the war on crime. Rachel’s motivation is quite similar to Frank’s, and has a military background which makes her transformation into his partner all the more natural, and a good fit.

The only drawback to this collection comes in the artwork, not because it’s not good, but more because it’s wildly inconsistent, because there’s five different artists at work here. Punisher #6-9 all have different artists on the issues, but thanks to the colours by Hollingsworth the visual tone of the book remains consistent, which is incredibly important to help mitigate the fact that the artist keeps changing on the book. That being said, the artists who take a turn illustrating an issue are extremely talented, and make their respective issues visually pop.

Punisher fans shouldn’t miss out on this distinctly different style of Punisher storytelling, as it manages to hit on all cylinders, with each and every issue. This a well-written crime comic, from a writer with a fantastic pedigree in that genre, and the assorted artists involved manage to truly bring the story of Punisher and his new protégé Rachel Cole-Alves to life. The inclusion of Daredevil and Spider-Man is just icing on the skull-shaped cake. Highly Recommended!