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Lazarus #5 Review: Thanks, Dad

The dark future series Lazarus returns after a break with more familial machinations and a look at Forever Carlyle’s youth. Since things built to a big climax in the last issue, this issue feels a little less intense, though there are still important things happening, particularly within the Carlyle family. We’re also introduced to what things are like for those on the other side, as we meet a family of “Waste” (those not affiliated with powerful families).   The issue opens with its most powerful scene, a flashback to the youth of Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus (a synthetic life form bred to protect powerful families) of the Carlyle clan. Her father, Malcolm, arrives to a facility where Forever is training after not seeing her for five months. When little Forever (who appears between 8 to 10-years-old) hugs and expresses warmth towards Malcolm, he chastises her. Then when Forever cannot defeat a grown-ass woman in a sword battle, he basically says that she’d better improve or she will not be allowed to call herself a Carlyle anymore.   Lazarus 05 p2   This scene is interesting for a number of reasons beyond how it gives new meaning to the term “bad parenting.” For one thing, Forever isn’t actually Malcolm’s daughter. She was created by scientists and “adopted” by the Carlyle family for protection. There’s been a recent theme in Lazarus where characters disparage Forever by pointing out that she’s not a real family member. The other part of this that is interesting is that Malcolm has expressed warmth to adult Forever so he clearly developed some affection for her over the years. Also, she’s quite good at protecting the family, so perhaps there is a twisted logic to Malcolm’s coldness in this scene.   The scene of semi-innocent Forever plays a counterpoint to a scene later is the issue when Forever is shot by a soldier from another powerful family along a border. The wound barely fazes her, but she takes it as an insult and basically orders the other side to either kill the shooter or face war (they choose the first choice). This is a good example of the conflicted sides Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have shown us of Forever Carlyle. She’d been raised as a cold killing machine and sometimes she is – but not always.   Lazarus 05 p3  As I mentioned, this issue also has the first display in the series of the life of “Waste” people. Contrary to what the term implies, these are actually normal, rural people (a woman named Bobbie and her son) who are trying to make a living. Since they are without influence, their livelihood is damaged by weather and no one other than neighbors seem to care. It’s an effective scene, though I don’t feel like we learn enough about these people yet. I hope we get more of them because I’d to learn more, and I think seeing the lives of “Waste” will be a good contrast to the Carlyle family.   Overall, Michael Lark’s art is pretty strong (as usual), though there are a few odd spots that aren’t quite as effective. The cover of the issue, featuring young Forever, looks very CGI-rendered, almost like that creepy dancing baby meme. Since this is a new arc and the first issue of Lazarus in months, I hope that new readers aren’t put off by this cover. I also thought that Lark’s illustration of young Forever’s face inside the comic looks strange. It’s almost as if he just shrunk adult Forever’s face without adjusting the features. Since Lark’s art has always been superb, I wonder if this is a stylistic choice. This is the first time in the series that we’ve seen a young Lazarus. Perhaps they do have weird small adult faces?   Lazarus 05 p5  Although this issue was slightly less exciting than the last few, it’s the first issue in the new storyline, “Lift,” so it works in that regard. A number of important themes are explored. It definitely seems like Rucka and Lark are going to be exploring the “realness” of Forever’s family bonds. It sounds like promising territory.
  • Interesting flashback from Forever's youth
  • Glimpse of "Waste" people
  • More family drama
  • Cover looks strange to me
  • The "Waste" family aren't developed enough


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