by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Alliances between families have been a major part of the strategies and warfare filling the last few months of Lazarus, but those alliances are always tenuous. Each family has no real loyalty except to themselves and to their own interests, making alliances fickle and betrayals commonplace. In Lazarus X+66 4, Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and Alitha Martinez show how teamwork is vital to winning battles, and why the families’ self-interest isn’t always in their best interest.
The Meyers-Qasami and Nkosi families — allies of Carlyle, and frequent allies of each other as well — have been tasked with recovering the secrets of the Vassalovka family and hopefully finding a way to stop their monstrous Lazarus, the Zmey. The two families’ Lazarai, Alimah and Xolani, both receive similar commands as they take on the assignment, including the command to take down the other family’s Lazarus as soon as the mission is complete.
I suppose I’m no military strategist nor a selfish zillionaire, but I can’t see the benefits of this move outweighing the downsides — taking out another family’s Lazarus would give them a brief advantage, but would also destroy their alliance and put their side of the war on shaky ground, and if they end up losing the war or taking major causalities because of it, the damage would dwarf any benefits the loss of a Lazarus gained them. It’s not great strategy, as far as I can tell — it’s so selfish that it’s myopic.
I’m not sure whether Alimah and Xolani have given this side of the situation that much thought, but they certainly enjoy each others’ company, and they certainly understand the value of teamwork.
Neither Alimah nor Xolani could have fulfilled this mission alone — they needed each other to succeed. I think their decisions to spare each other are based more off of mutual fondness and respect, but the strength each lends the other certainly plays a part in it as well. Learning the kind of power a true alliance can provide is a realization their families would certainly benefit from, but one I doubt any of the leaders in the world of Lazarus could ever really internalize.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
What struck me most about this story is how it contrasted against the theme of control with regards to a family’s Lazarus that we’ve see so far. A large chunk of Forever’s story is her awakening to how her family controls her, her reaction to that, and her attempt to break from it. The last arc of the main series, and the second issue of X+66, dealt very directly about how the Morray family will take extreme steps to control their Lazarus, Joacquim.
For me, the tension of the inevitable confrontation between Alimah and Xolani was building slowly throughout the entire issue. To then see them both just kind of shrug off their orders with a “Meh” was something I definitely wasn’t expecting — in an entertaining way.
Joacquim’s story was that he was not independent but very much just a tool of the family. These two appear more independent, along the line of Eve, able to put self and friendship ahead of family. Put together the two tales tell of the struggle of the Lazari to have their own purpose and identities. So while on the surface there appears to be a war of the families, is there underneath the story of the struggle of the loyal abused Lazarui seeking freedom?
Oh for sure there is. The Lazari are struggling for autonomy and freedom, just as The Free are. It’s a huge part of the story of the series, arguably more so than the conflict between The Families, IMO.