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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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 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

Lazarus 14

lazarus 14

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

Lazarus 12

lazarus 12Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Lazarus 12, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

‘Inspire a generation’ is our motto. Not necessarily ‘Create a generation’ … which is what they sometimes get up to in the Olympic village.

London Mayor Boris Johnson on the  2012 Olympics

Drew: The bacchanalian nature of the Olympic village is well-documented, with anecdotes about the athletes’ exploits reaching near-legendary status, but even without all of the stories, the orgiastic qualities of the village should come as no surprise — what else would you expect of an international group of twenty-somethings in peak physical condition with little else to do? Throw in the fact that any given day, somebody is celebrating the most important win of their lives, and you have an obvious recipe for partying. Curiously, this is exactly the situation the Lazari find themselves in in Lazarus 12. With their families preoccupied with the formalities and strategies of the conclave, the Lazari are left with little to do other than admire each other’s super-human bodies. The result is a decidedly lighter — and alluring — respite amidst all of the tension of the conclave. Continue reading

Lazarus 11

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 11, Drew and PatrickToday, 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

Lazarus 5

lazarus 5

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

Lazarus 4

Alternating Currents: Lazarus 4, Drew and Shelby

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