Two of Gotham Central's finest, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, have reunited on Lazarus, a new series from Image Comics. Along with colorist Santi Arcas, the duo's creator-owned series focuses on Forever, the "Lazarus," or protector, of the Carlyle family.
"Lazarus is the story of Forever Carlyle, a genetically engineered young woman and the youngest daughter of the Carlyle family. Her family is one of about 30-odd ruling families left on Earth in a dystopian future where economic collapse has made the difference between the haves and the have-nots so stark, the world has almost returned to a feudal state. She is essentially a member of a royal family," Rucka told Comic Book Resources. " As a family's Lazarus, she is responsible for the protection and defense of the family, hence her nature. That's why she is the way she is. It's a very dark, very unpleasant world if you have nothing. The best you can hope for is that maybe a family will find a use for in some way and that they'll educate you, train you and elevate you to a service class. The other families are very jealous of what they have. They covet what they don't have and go to great lengths to make sure that the status-quo is maintained."
So how is the first issue? Here are a few thoughts on it from around the web:
Melissa Grey, IGN: "We know you should never judge a book by its cover, but it's hard not to be immediately drawn to Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's Lazarus #1 by the striking image on its cover. The piercing eyes of the woman on the cover -- whose name we later learn is Forever -- don't merely invite you to read the book. They demand it. They dare you to snatch it off the shelf and crack open its pages. And you should listen. Lazarus #1 is a book I'm glad to judge by its cover because it is good. Very, very good." (9.3/10)
Matt LeMaire, The MacGuffin: "Yet another key aspect that drags you in is the science fiction aspects of the series, but Rucka has taken great pains–and considerable research–to ensure that it’s much closer to science fact than fiction. After all, just read his afterword at the back of the issue to see some pretty striking examples of where things are going. But in this sense–this connection to reality–the book shines because the science that helps Forever (our main character) do what she does seems plausible, making it all that more interesting. As Rucka notes, he wanted hard sci-fi and that’s what we’ve got here."
Richard Gray, Behind the Panels: "This slick thriller with sci-fi leanings is a cool affair from Greg Rucka, but perhaps a little too cool at times. The concepts in Lazarus are intriguing ones, and Rucka spends much of this issue setting out the rules of this world. Many of the concepts are familiar ones, especially the idea of an elite human weapon beginning to doubt her place in the world. The script keeps us at arm’s length for the most part, with only Forever’s occasional concerns allowing the reader to latch onto her character. Yet the inevitability of Forever’s changes after her brushes with the great unwashed now set in stone, one of the hooks of the series will be watching Forever’s growing awareness of self." (3.5/5)
Joseph Hughes, ComicsAlliance: "The first nine pages of Lazarus #1 present darkness, desperation, and striking violence. They may also be the nine most beautiful pages of Michael Lark’s career, and that’s saying something for the artist of Terminal City and Batman: Nine Lives. Aided by excellent color work from Santi Arcas, Lark’s illustrations immerse the reader immediately with several effective panels throughout the opening scene. We see a woman in shadow — a person we quickly learn is called Forever — being brutally shot down in her own home. The combination of violence and beauty is difficult to pull off, but Lark and Arcas do so effortlessly here, to the degree that by the time the scene is over, you find yourself wishing it would continue. The sequence serves as a way to display Forever’s abilities and her conflict with how she’s asked to use them. Forever rises from a bloody scene and attacks her assailants, who it turns out were of the “have not” variety (or Waste, as they’re known in Lazarus), and had broken into her Family’s home desperately seeking food."
Meagan Damore, Comic Book Resources: "Lark's art compliments Rucka's characters, bringing them to life through little details. For example, Lark particularly defines Forever's abs and arm muscles, depicting her as the soldier she's meant to be. On the other hand, her brother Jonah appears in a business suit with his hair slicked back, looking for all the world like an oily CEO. On sight, though the differences between the characters are clear, they both project a sense of power through their clothes, their stances, and even in their facial expressions. Additionally, colorist Santi Arcas employs mostly blues, blacks, and grays to show the sanitary nature of the Family facilities, how removed they are from the much brighter outside world that the Family staff and Waste inhabit. The art and colors work well together to show the division between the Family and the non-Family." (4.5/5)
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: "I also loved the coloring work here. While the line art keeps the settings in familiar territory, the colors set them apart from the everyday. Arcas immerses interior facilities controlled by the Carlyles in cool, sterile blues. Save for the spots scarred by violence, those backdrops seem untouched by normal human activity. Conversely, the exterior shot are bathed in muted browns and yellows, creating an arid, barren tone that reflects how the world has withered or even died." (8/10)