Lazarus, Volume 1: Family is the start of what promises to be a dark, thrilling, not-to-be-missed graphic novel series.
Author Greg Rucka has taken what might otherwise be a stale genre staple (a dystopian United States where sections of the country are run by war lords) and developed it in to an intriguing drama of power and family.
The reader is dropped in to the story in the middle of an action sequence, not letting us catch our breath for even a moment, forcing us to accept the fact that we have to learn as we go, trusting that all will become clear later. I love when an author can do this, and can do it well. I’ve seen it with Roger Zelazny, and with Philip Pullman, done very successfully. Rucka is equally as successful.
We drop in on Eve (a nickname for “Forever”), whom we discover is a ‘Lazarus’ — a genetically created (cyborg) protector for the Carlyle Family — as she is surviving, or resurrecting from a battle in which she is protecting the theft of family-owned grain. Each Family seems to have a Lazarus. Eve doesn’t appear to understand her origins, only that she’s a member of the Family and her role is as protector. This ‘not knowing’ looks to be a story-line that we will follow in future installments of the book.
The opening scene with Eve’s resurrection/survival of an attack is a fantastic way to begin the series. It Captures the reader’s attention, asks for our attention and willingness to wait for more answers, and tells us that this world is unlike what we currently know. It’s a fantastic opening.
What makes this story work so well is that it is not a story about the devastation that has taken place to create this world, but it is about family and politics and what strange bedfellows both can be. Despite her power, Eve is not liked by all in her own family. The family patriarch sends her on a mission to deliver a message to another family, and while we are already confident she’ll survive the mission, based on what we know of her, questions of potential betrayal linger in our thoughts.
While it seems clear that much of this book (the first five issues of the comic) is a set up for a much larger, on-going story, Rucka manages to not just use this first volume as set-up/introduction, but is able to tell a complete enough story that we don’t feel cheated. There’s plenty of conflict set-up (inner-family; other family; man vs nature; et al) that there’ll be no shortage of story plots!
Art by Michael Lark is appropriately moody and realistic. It is perfectly suited for this book.
This book is one of the rare graphic novels that I’ve read that has actually left me wanting more. Often it just seems right, and if I don’t read the next volume, I’m okay with it. But this one really has me salivating for the next installment.
Looking for a good book? The graphic novel Lazarus, Vol 1: Family is a wonderful set-up to a dystopian future with plenty of family intrigue — it is highly recommended.
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Lazarus, Volume 1: Family
author: Greg Rucka
artist: Michael Lark
publisher: Image Comics
paperback, 96 pages