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 →
Today, 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 →
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.
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 →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released February 18th, 2015.
…poetry is a short story missing 99 percent of the words.
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 →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Spencer: It takes more than blood to make a family. I have great aunts and uncles I barely know, a few cousins I’ve never even met — they may be my relatives, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re not my family. No, family is forged in many different ways, but almost all of them involve either large quantities of time spent together or a unique shared understanding of life. Forever has never received either of these things from the rest of the Carlyles, which makes it all the more strange that her first real familial connection amongst them is made with Jonah, the brother who tried to kill her. Yet, that’s exactly what happens in Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus 14, and the consequences of their newfound connection looks like it will only make Forever’s life even tougher in the future. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 11, originally released September 10th, 2014.
Drew: There’s a scene late in Lazarus 11 that finds Malcolm Carlyle dictating a message for Forever to deliver. We’ve seen Forever take on the role of messenger/negotiator before, but what’s remarkable here is how open Malcolm is about his means of manipulation. He’s considered every action and reaction that will happen as Forever carries out his orders, and is able to maintain exacting control in spite of being thousands of miles from the actual negotiations. It’s an unsettling display of raw power, but also opens the possibility that Malcolm is himself being manipulated — it would only take a mind equal to Malcolm’s to have anticipated all of his actions here. With all of this subterfuge, it’s easy to see why Forever might question if she’s getting the whole truth from her father about her parentage. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 8, originally released April 23rd, 2014.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
The nail which sticks out gets hammered down.
Shelby: Two opposing ideas: one, that speaking up about problems is the only way to call attention to them and get them fixed, the other, that maybe standing out from the crowd and speaking out is more dangerous than it’s worth. I am firmly in the former camp; I believe dissent is the first, important step to affect change. After all, if no one knows there’s a problem, how’s it going to get solved? But maybe I only feel that way because I’ve had the luxury of never being in a situation where that would be the more dangerous approach.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Lazarus 6, originally released February 4th, 2014.
Patrick: Matt Groening had been writing and drawing his comic strip, Life In Hell, for five years beforeThe Los Angeles Way of Deathcaught the attention of James L. Brooks. Brooks had received a framed copy on the strip and the simple message of the piece eventually lead him to mentor Groening, ultimately developing The Simpsons together. That’s a Cliff Notes version of their history, but that specific Life In Hell strip is notorious for all the right reasons — a quick, clear series of images that expressed the existential slog of living and working in LA, but without being beholden to any narrative, save that which the reader projected onto it. There are clever observations throughout — like that “Gun” and “Cop” are basically the same drawing, or that “Sea” and “Air” are both true and elemental (come to think of it, Fire and Earthquake would also fit) — but the most poignant panels are the last two: “Failure” and “Success.” Both are prisons in their own right, and the uber class system at play in Lazarus makes the similarity between these apparent opposites explicit. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Lazarus 5, originally released December 11th, 2013.
Shelby: With family dramas like Lazarus, it seems to always come down to loyalty. With family, a certain amount of loyalty is assumed; they’re your family, you have to be loyal to that. Greg Rucka really tests that with the Carlyles; the first issues are rife with schemes and betrayal. Poor Forever is stuck with the task of not only remaining loyal to the back-stabbingest family, but also not really having a choice as the family’s Lazarus. Despite her unwavering facade, there’s that tiny seed of doubt planted by the anonymous message that she’s not actually a part of the family. If blood ties are the driving force behind her loyalty, what’s she to do if those ties don’t even exist? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Lazarus 4, originally released October 2nd, 2013.
Drew: Ah, feudalism. Its simple, incestuous power dynamics make for some fascinating drama. Sure, there can be warring families, but the real dangers are those from within, as family members pit their love for one another against their thirst for power. It completely upends our notions of who we can trust, leaving each member of the ruling class open to betrayal and manipulation. As an effectively immortal killing-machine, Forever Carlyle was always above that kind of base power-grubbing, but Lazarus 4 finds her pulled into the fray with an anonymous tip about her family. Continue reading →