lazarus2-webThis week marked the release of the second issue of a new series from Image Comics, Lazarus, by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, & Santi Arcas.  Lazarus takes place in a future where there are no more political or geographical nations, but rather nations built around wealth and “Family.”  Each Family has a certain number of workers who provide them with basic labor. These people are called “Serfs.”  All other people (ie the majority of the human population on Earth) are considered “Waste.” In addition, each Family choses one child to serve as their “lazarus,” a soldier that protects and fights for the Family.  This super-soldier is given the absolute best that science and technology has to offer.

The first issue sets the basic groundwork for the story and the main character, Forever, the “Lazarus” of the Carlyle family.  After an incident on the Carlyle farm involving an invasion from another Family (Morray), Malcolm Carlyle summons all of his children, including Forever, to the family estate in order to determine the next course of action.  That is where Issue #2 picks up.

As always, Greg Rucka delivers in a big way.  The first issue is mostly set-up so the majority of the character development is focused on Forever.  She is, as one would expect, more than just a killing machine.  She feels regret and remorse, emotions that other members of the Carlyle family would clearly prefer their Lazarus not to feel.  I loved the additional development of other characters in the second issue, especially Malcolm Carlyle.  I cannot wait to see where Rucka takes Forever and her relationships with her family members.

I also love the idea behind the story.  Rucka does not go into too much detail in the first issue as to how society broke down from nations designated by geography/politics to nations designated by wealth/Families.  I don’t think he needs to right away.  Honestly, this is not a future that is too difficult to envision, especially given a post-apocalyptic type environment (it is revealed in the second issue that Los Angeles was mostly destroyed in an earthquake).  In his epilogue at the end of the first issue, Rucka states that the idea for this series was partially inspired by the Occupy Movement and the general state of the global economy.  He then proceeds to detail all of the research on economics and science that he put together before May 2013 (when he wrote the epilogue).  As Rucka states, “It’s not news to say that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  What is news is just how stark that divide has become, and how much deeper and wider it looks to grow.”  Keeping this statement in mind, I think it is fascinating to explore a world in which this divide has grown so vast that the majority of humanity is viewed as “waste” with only the extremely wealthy controlling food, power, etc.  While the subject matter is extremely dark, I am very excited to see whatever glimmers of hope (if there are any) that may be revealed within this bleak future that Rucka and Lark envision.

Furthermore, the art in Lazarus is gorgeous.  Lazarus reunites Rucka with Michael Lark.  The two previously worked together on Gotham Central (another amazing series that everyone should check out at some point, especially fans of Batman stories).  Lark’s art is realistic and detailed without losing the feel of comic book art.  Perhaps one of the characteristics I love most about his illustrations are the eyes of his characters.  The story moves so quickly it might be easy to miss on the first read-through, but try to look at the eyes of the characters in each panel.  They oftentimes say more than whatever is written in the word balloons.

Only two issues in and I am hooked.  I highly recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of strong female characters and post-apocalyptic story lines.  If you have not read any books by Greg Rucka yet, Lazarus is a perfect place to start.