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Lazarus #10 Review

"The Enemy You Know"

In the first arc of Lazarus, Jonah Carlyle and his sister Johanna plotted to overthrow Malcolm, the patriarch of the family, while also killing the protector of the family – a genetically-modified solider raised from birth to kill. In the world of this story, this kind of soldier is called a “Lazarus” and Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of the Carlyle family, was targeted by Jonah and Johanna. Their plot failed and Johanna claimed Jonah was behind the whole thing, causing him to flee the family. In Lazarus #10 we find out what happened to Jonah.

 

He fled to another powerful family, the Hock empire, seeking to trade his knowledge for asylum and power. However, he is not greeted as openly as he expected. Jakob Hock does not prize what Jonah has to offer because he rightly sees that Jonah never really had an important role in the Carlyle family, so his knowledge is pretty useless. However, Hock knows that Malcolm Carlyle will not allow one of his children – even a disloyal one like Jonah – to be in the hands of an enemy. So Jonah is still useful to Hock as an object.

 

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Consequently, Jonah is treated more like a prisoner than a guest. He is beaten by guards, hosed down, force-fed a pill that makes him passive, and eventually loses a finger to an experiment Jakob conducts to make himself younger. Much of the first half of this issue is wordless, but it’s still pretty powerful to see a character, even an unlikeable one like Jonah, treated so harshly. It’s hard to take a heel and make him sympathetic, but Rucka and Lark do it by stripping Jonah of all his power.

 

The best thing about this issue, though, is the way that it opens up the “universe” of Lazarus. So far in the series, we’ve only received small glimpses of what’s happening outside the Carlyle lands. We’ve only really met one of the other powerful families – The Morrays. We learn in this issue that the Morrays have teamed up with the Hocks. And Jakob has a plan to bring other families into an alliance that will destroy the Carlyles. Many of the recent issues have been focused on the “waste,” regular people without any influence or power, so it’s nice to take a 180 degree turn and look at the power running this world.

 

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Michael Lark (with assistance by Brian Level) and colors from Santi Arcas does a great job of building that outside world. We see New York City, and there are some similarities but also a lot of differences. Lark also shows us in this one issue the huge range of human experiences that happen in this dark world. Jonah goes from sitting naked in a holding cell to meeting Jakob in his penthouse before winding up in an operating room.

 

Lazarus has a lot of strong things going for it, but it can occasionally veer too far into exaggerated dystopia, which happens at times in this issue. The world of the Hock empire, with its propaganda posters and announcements as well as its “medicines” is straight out of Brave New World. I think a more subtle touch in the dystopia – as even handled in this series previously – is much more effective. Some of the elements of the Hock are almost comical in their extremity, showing a dystopia that is quite hard to imagine.

 

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Still, I’m intrigued by the glimpse readers are getting of the other families in Lazarus. Having already survived an assault from within his own family (and still with the traitorous Johanna inside), will Malcolm Carlyle and Forever be able to take a unified front from other powerful families? This seems to be the next big move for the series, one that seems like it will lead to some strong future issues of Lazarus.

Rating
7.2
Pros
  • Seeing the world outside the Carlyle empire
  • Having Jonah go from a villain to totally powerless
  • The art really helps show the wider world as it is
Cons
  • Some elements of the Hock world are nearly cartoonish in their dystopia

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