The Press Finds a Way to be Free in Lazarus X+66 5

by Drew Baumgartner

Lazarus X+66 5

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.

Thomas Jefferson

I think it would be difficult to overstate how much the founding fathers valued a free, independent press. In their minds, it was an essential check on power, providing the citizenry with vital information about the actions of the government. In that way, the press can be framed as an antagonist of those in power, but only when the actions of those in power are at odds with the will of the people. Unfortunately, recent cults of personality have made certain people more inclined to root for those in power rather than the citizens, managing to tar the press as the enemy of the people. At the same time, news sources have become increasingly consolidated and corporatized, calling into question exactly how “free” and “independent” the press truly is. As ever, the world of Lazarus exists in the space made by playing out these trends to their logical conclusion, creating a world where the press is intended as the PR arm of the family, even as it’s made up of people who are deeply suspicious of them. Continue reading

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There’s Strength in Allies in Lazarus X+66 4

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. Continue reading

Striving for Freedom, Not Comfort in Lazarus X+66 3

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

As much as Lazarus has shown us a dark vision of a future dystopia, it’s largely shown it to us from the point of view of that world’s most wealthy and privileged members. Introduced in the second arc, the Barret family allowed writer Greg Rucka to give readers a glimpse of the world from the point of view of its most unfortunate and downtrodden instead. As the series progressed, Michael and Casey have become more integrated with the world’s elite, but parents Joe and Bobbie Barret still provide that more grounded P.O.V., even as serfs. As Lazarus X+66 3 reminds us, the pain of the past can’t, and shouldn’t, be so easily forgotten. Continue reading

Lazarus X+66 2 Presents a Cyborg as a Rorschach Test

by Drew Baumgartner

Lazarus X+66 2

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

People see what they want to see. It’s a fact that’s fundamental to our perception of the world, but also the thing that prevents us from agreeing on anything. Rorschach tests represent the most fundamental expression of this notion, asking subjects to project their own meaning onto meaningless inkblots, but it’s something we see every day, from our simplest hopes and fears to the way we evaluate political candidates. That’s not to say there aren’t objective truths, just that, individually, we’re terrible at recognizing (and respecting) them, so their existence is almost incidental to our attitudes about the world. This is enervating enough when discussing climate change or which way toilet paper rolls should be oriented, but becomes all the more heartbreaking when the debate questions your very humanity, as it does for Joacquim Morray in Lazarus X+66 2. Continue reading

Lazarus X+66 1: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Desaulniers

Lazarus X+66 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Drew: This quote often comes up when discussing historical figures, but to my eye, it’s really all about the narratives we build around people. That is, this describes fictional heroes — from “chosen ones” destined for greatness to utterly reluctant nobodies that rise to the occasion — stories so familiar to us, we can’t help but project them on the world around us. But, like, what does it mean to be “born great,” and how do we distinguish that from someone having greatness thrust upon them? Those kinds of distinctions might make sense in stories where deities and magic put concepts like destiny in play, but the real world is much messier than that. Such is the case with Casey Solomon, whose greatness is anticipated by Forever Carlyle. Is her greatness inborn, or is it something she only achieved in order to live up to expectations? Continue reading

Lazarus 26

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 26, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 26, originally released March 29th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Goodness gracious, is this series great. I tried approaching this intro about seven different ways, but the only way to really do justice to this issue is to start off by acknowledging just how precise writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark are in what they do. There’s so much going on in this issue that showcases exactly why this series continues to be one of my favorites, but I’m going to focus on the introduction of Vassalovka’s lazarus, the Zmey — an unexpected grenade of a threat that utterly disrupts the slow-burning family drama at the heart of this series. Continue reading

Lazarus 18

lazarus 18Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Lazarus 18, originally released July 29th, 2015.

Spencer: There’s a certain rush that comes with new stories, with watching a whole world full of new characters and relationships being established right before your eyes, but it’s a rush that by definition can’t last forever, and late-series attempts to keep things fresh often misfire. The answer isn’t continually adding new characters and concepts, which can often leave a story feeling bloated and distract from its core themes; the best storytellers know the power that comes from mixing up established relationships, throwing together characters who have never really interacted before, and finding new perspectives to view their cast through. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus is well into its second year and fourth storyline, and it’s exactly these kind of techniques that keeps issue 18 feeling as compelling as ever. Continue reading

Lazarus 17

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 17, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 17, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Narrative art must be clear, but it must also be mysterious. Something should remain unsaid, something just beyond our understanding, a secret. If it’s only clear, it’s kitsch; if it’s only mysterious (a much easier path), it’s condescending and pretentious and soon monotonous.

Stephen Sondheim

Drew: I’m fascinated by the relationship Lazarus has with clarity. It’s actually one of the most clear comics I’ve ever read — I’ve often remarked upon both Greg Rucka’s deceptively organic exposition and Michael Lark’s ability to keep track of every character in a scene — but it also leaves a great deal unsaid. The most obvious piece is the world-building — our focus has remained relatively tight on a small handful of characters, but every detail implies a much larger, more complex world beyond the edge of the page — but I’m much more interested in the things literally left unsaid; the subtle glances and body language that permeate the artwork, leaving the audience to interpret how characters are feeling. This all but forces us to project our own feelings onto the characters, drawing us further into the narrative. Issue 17 opens with what amounts to reversal of this trick, forcing the characters’ subjectivity onto us, and it is incredibly effective. Continue reading

Lazarus 16

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 16, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 16, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Drew: My first experience with an epistolary novel was Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy, presented as the diary of the titular character. It seemed like such a novel concept to me (no pun intended), but the epistolary novel actually predates the modern novel by over 100 years. It makes sense that the documentary-style of the epistolary novel as a collection of letters and diary entries might be more approachable than the entirely artificial convention of having a character (or third person narrator) telling the story to us. While Lazarus has often stayed close to Forever’s perspective, it’s never committed to any one narrator, which makes issue 16 all the more unusual, presented largely as the diary entries, transmissions, conversation transcripts, and training materials of Sister Bernard, punctuated with only a few short instances of dialogue. Continue reading

Lazarus 15

Alternating CurrentsL Lazarus 15, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released February 18th, 2015.

…poetry is a short story missing 99 percent of the words.

Greg Rucka

Drew: I really wish I had the rest of the above quote, made by Rucka at the New York Comic Con in 2013, but to paraphrase, Rucka was suggesting that an intimate understanding of the form of short stories would prepare writers for every kind of writing except poetry. I’ve always seen a resemblance between Rucka’s taut comic work and great short stories, but what truly struck me about that quote was how it seemed to contradict the oft-quoted axiom that the required efficiency of short stories aligns them more closely with poetry than novels. This seeming contradiction may boil down to the inadequacy of our definition of “poetry”, but I couldn’t help but think of this quote as I read Lazarus 15, one of the most poetic comics I’ve ever read. Continue reading