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Lazarus #4: Everybody Was Melee Fighting

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Rain Partier

Postby LOLtron » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:00 am

Lazarus #4: Everybody Was Melee Fighting

Jeff Kromer reviews the final chapter of Lazarus' incredible first arc.

Lazarus #4, Written by Greg Rucka (Queen & Country, Stumptown) with art by Michael Lark (Daredevil, Gotham Central) is the last issue in the titles opening arc, Family. In previous issues we’ve been introduced to Forever, the “Lazarus” (defender) of the Family Carlyle, a ruling family in a near future of socio-economic ruin. The Carlyles and a few other families are wealthy, powerful, genetically modified and thriving while the rest of humanity are either “Serfs”, servants of a Family, or “Waste” barely eking out an existence. In issue #3 Forever was sent on a mission to negotiate with another Family. While there she met her counterpart and the two shared a moment after the talks concluded. Sitting on the border between their respective Families holdings they were bombed by a party that I won’t spoil.

Issue #4 opens immediately after #3 and deals largely with the fallout of the attack. From page one begins an exhilarating sequence that jumps between four different perspectives as the next few moments unfold. On the ground at the attack site Forever is just regaining consciousness, her vitals are being monitored from a Family facility (these panels feature red toned screens), her attackers are attempting to confirm her death at another facility (these panels feature blue toned screens) and an altercation develops between two Carlyle Family members in the last set of panels.

As Forever begins to fight back an incredible 10 pages unfolds; Lark interweaves brutal combat, the frantic analysis of the two interested parties and the savage beating of a Family member. It’s amazing to watch Lark work. There is no confusion despite a multitude of panels and shifting perspectives. At the attack site he has blocked out the action very clearly, the images are dynamic and flow from panel to panel to give the impression of frenzied melee combat. The two observing parties give the reader some insight into a Lazarus’ capabilities and the last set of panels reveal a betrayal that I hadn’t seen coming.

After the violence has subsided Forever deals with the fallout and I’m going to stop here for fear of spoiling what Rucka sets up as the issue closes. Speaking generally about Lazarus though, what Rucka has set up in four issues is impressive. There’s an incredible amount of world building done both in story and in back-matter elements in each issue. The action sequence in this issue is mirrored by a great sequence that opened issue one. In between Rucka has introduced warring families and shifting loyalties and has done an excellent job of introducing multiple characters with various devious motivations.

I really can’t say enough about Lazarus. It’s at the top of my read pile whenever it comes out and it’s one of the rare titles that I buy in both single issue and collected format. While this issue may not be the best point to jump on the series I would encourage anyone whose interest is piqued by this review to seek out the previous issues or wait for the first collection to come out later this month.

Written or Contributed by Jeffrey Kromer

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Flynn the Pirate


Postby Flynn the Pirate » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:24 pm

I really am enjoying this series. There's very much a Game of Thrones meets Termimator vibe going on and without really explaining a whole lot, Rucka has built a whole world and society that is easy to get into and understand.

I'm hoping that the next storyline, which appears from the cover of issue five to have a good deal of flashback, will help flesh out some of the world in which the Families exist.

All in all, a great series.
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Great Scott!!!

Postby Chessack » Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:54 pm

I completely agree with both of you. Lazrus is at the top of my pull-list along with Astro City. I give all four of the first 4 issues 10/10. Great story, excellent art, outstanding coloring. I too noticed the different color tones in the different scenes and I think this really worked well on a subconscious level the first time I read through it (when I'm not sure I overtly realized how the coloring was done) to help me follow the story. This could have been (maybe, should have been) a confusing mess, but Rucka, Lark, and Arcas just really know what they are doing, and it was a piece of cake to follow the story. I was never confused.

And did you guys notice... not one splash page! Not one. Take that, JL 23.
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:07 am

The first story arc of Lazarus comes to an end, and it’s no surprise that, just like the first 3 issues, this is a damn fine comic book.

This issue shows the aftermath of Jonah’s betrayal of Forever, and his attack on her and Joacquim. We see the full extent of a Lazarus’ healing factor, and it is extensive, as Forever kicks some serious ass of the traitor soldiers who attacked her. The action scenes in this series have been fantastic, Michael Lark is just so good, and even when his art is a little more rushed and scratchy like in this issue, it’s still excellent.

I think the most interesting aspect of this issue was the actions of Johanna. At first, she and her twin Jonah were just Lannisters-lite, but here, she becomes a lot more interesting as she betrays Jonah and really hangs him out to dry. She orders Mason to beat her up, and to make it look like Jonah did it, and that he acted alone in attacking Forever. Johanna looks like being a seriously dangerous player in this series. What looked like two of the least interesting characters are now suddenly very high on my radar.
In the end, Forever returns home, after telling her dad about what’s been going on. The last page was very interesting, as Forever receives an email telling her that Carlyle is not her father, and this is not her actual family. Now, stuff like this has seemed fairly obvious in the last few issues to the reader, but what will the impact be for the characters? I can’t wait to find out.

In these first 4 issues, Rucka and Lark have done a fantastic job at establishing a very interesting, and all too real science fiction setting, as well as setting up some very complex characters and delivering some cool action. That’s really all you can ask for in an opening arc, and I can’t wait to delve deeper into things in the coming months. I also really love the back-story timeline Rucka is running in the letters page, that is fascinating in and of itself, and shows just how much thought and planning has gone into this world.

If you haven’t checked out this title, you really need to, and you have no excuse, I think the first trade is out either next week or the week after. You have your orders, now get to it!

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