Written by: Greg Rucka Art by: Michael Lark Colours: Santi Arcas Published by: Image Comics
Welcome to the world of The Families – where a group of 16 families have drawn up their territories in place of governments. The world here is a tough place, harsh and exacting; in opposition to that view is that of the elite, where status and superiority provide everything. In the midst of this backdrop, we have the Carlyle family Lazarus: Forever Carlyle. She is an intriguing character, a highly trained warrior and an engineered woman. One who is brutally introduced during an attack on a Carlyle family compound. Forever (‘Eve) is seemingly murdered, but that is only the start of her journey. Within moments, she is back on her feet and swiftly dispatches her assailants. A Lazarus, it turns out, is very difficult to kill.
In this ‘First Collection’ the book deals with the first two story arcs of the series. In the first arc we get a good overview of the dystopian future we find ourselves in. The Carlyle family are a complex, conflicted group, and the patriarch in charge has an almost Machiavellian level of control over proceedings. But this book is about the Lazarus and her story starts in the Family. As the first arc unfolds, where the schemes and betrayals play out, Forever is at the heart of the matter. We see her conflicts, her situation and the blood all around her.
Greg Rucka has weaved a compelling female lead in a worrying glimpse of our potential future. The world sculpted around Forever is fully fleshed out and the characters are beguiling, intelligent, complex, arrogant, jealous and treacherous. Michael Lark on art matches the ambition of Greg Rucka stride for stride. The future world environments all come across in an effortless blur. In terms of the action, the sword and gun play, as well as the physical conflicts are all deliciously rendered. Where Lark really shines is on the brutal side of the action – there is a grim realism to the art here.
In the second story arc, we gain deeper insight into the families and Forever, through the fragments of her past we gain greater knowledge of who she is, why she is and what, ultimately she is. Which is in stark opposition to the mysterious message she receives, planting the seed that her family isn’t really her family… Her relationship with her ‘father’ is also expounded upon. Trust is a useful mechanism employed throughout the book, or, rather, the betrayal of that trust.
This collection wraps well, we’ve been introduced to this world of The Families, learned of their control and power, and we have become acquainted with some very compelling characters. The future for this series also seems bright. On this basis, Lazarus is a really solid read.