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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Black Magick 9 Keep Rowan in the Dark

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Magick 9

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

Whether it’s Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker, I tend to think of the prototypical fantasy protagonist as being relatively unfamiliar with the strange world they live in. It allows their confusion or surprise at the unexpected to mirror our own, and their ignorance offers a reasonable justification for someone to explain that wizards are real or that the Jedi channel a power called the force. A more knowledgable fantasy protagonist, then, might be hard for an audience to keep up with. I suspect this is how I’d feel about Rowan Black — who is undoubtedly knowledgable about the fantastical elements of her world — if she weren’t on her heels from issue one. She may have knowledge and motives that we don’t fully understand, but she’s just as clueless about what the heck is going on as we are. Indeed, issue 9 might even leave us with more knowledge than she has. Continue reading

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

Rowan’s Defenses May be Lacking in Black Magick 7

by Drew Baumgartner

Black Magick 7

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

We don’t often talk about procedurals in terms of “putting the pieces in place” — there’s too much directionality to all of the clue finding for the endgame to feel anything other than inevitable. Of course, for all of the procedural elements in Black Magick, it isn’t strictly a procedural. This issue is full of procedural scenes — all showing some degree of cause and effect — from Rowan’s “investigation” into Bruce Dunridge to her (and Alex’s separate) spellcasting, to Stepan Hahn’s own detective work. He’s the noose we’re consciously aware of (especially as the end of the issue puts him on a collision course with Ro), but it’s the procedures we don’t quite see the fallout of that intrigue me most. 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

Wonder Woman 25: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Taylor Anderson

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

Michael: The concept of a higher power is one that many men and women struggle with at least once in their lives. One popular debate between believers and non-believers is the question “why does God let bad things happen to good people?” More to the point, “why does God let bad things happen?” After all of the trials and tribulations that she has gone through, Wonder Woman faces her gods and demands answers for it all. Continue reading

The Non-Quixotic Quest in The Old Guard 5

by Drew Baumgartner

The Old Guard 5

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

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

Joe Darion, “The Impossible Dream”

Is Andy the anti-Don Quixote? Her world-weary cynicism is certainly the opposite of his delusions of chivalry; her bitter pragmatism the opposite of his flights of fancy. But the thing that strikes me most is that Andy is the unbeatable foe, the kind of mythical being Quixote could only dream of. Of course, this gives them different priorities — while he’s focused on those imaginary beings, she’s utterly undaunted by the mortal tilting at her. Sure, the mortal can get in a few good licks, but is more of an annoyance than a nemesis. Indeed, it turns out the only thing worthy of an unbeatable foe’s attention is another unbeatable foe. Continue reading

Despair in the Denouement in Wonder Woman 24

by Ryan Mogge

Wonder Woman 24

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

In a classical Greek tragedy, no matter whether they achieve their goals, the protagonists of a story end up worse off than they started. In Wonder Woman 24, everyone is at once successful and miserable. Greg Rucka focus on three women living in pain even after reaching their objectives.

After seeing her mother and being only a step away from Themyscria, Diana is distraught when she returns. Rucka indicates that Diana is not her usual self in the way that she carelessly leaves Cheetah behind. It wouldn’t necessarily be careless if a regular person did it, but Wonder Woman has set standards of empathy and kindness that even she cannot always live up to. When Etta calls her out, it only takes a moment before Diana is ready to take action. Even in her guilt, she is committed to making things right. Continue reading