On the inside front cover of Lazarus No.1, writer Greg Rucka sets the scene: the world of the future is divided not by politics or geography but by wealthy family domains. And each family has one person who is trained (and genetically engineered) to be the family’s guardian — sword and shield; that person is the family’s Lazarus. For the Carlyles, the Lazarus is a member of the family, a woman called Forever (or, for short, Eve).
The opening sequence is nearly wordless: Eve is attacked and seemingly killed by a small band of destitute homeless people (termed “Waste,” all those humans not of a family or in service to one). But as these starving beings loot the larder, Eve comes to life again (thanks to some sort of ”healing factor”) and kills all three of them, employing whatever knives and swords she can lay a hand to.
This episode reveals her indestructibility as well as her determination and combat skills.
Eve subsequently goes to the Carlyle farm where the seed storeroom has been pilfered by representatives of a rival family, the Morrays. The Carlyles suspect that someone “inside” let the robbers in, and Eve forces one of a group of laborers to confess, whereupon she kills him — even though she knows he confessed only to prevent her from carrying out her threat to kill all of them if one didn’t confess.
This episode shows not only her dedication as the Carlyle Lazarus but her complete ruthlessness even though she knows her victim is lying.
In the next two issues, Eve is sent to negotiate with the Morrays, and she meets their Lazarus, who is male. She completes the negotiation, and we strongly suspect that the two Lazaruses have a thing for each other. And just then, the vehicle is bombed and blows up. Not to worry: remember the Lazarus healing factor. But will it work if the personage is in pieces? Meanwhile, two of the other Carlyle offspring, male and female twins, are plotting — something. More to come, no doubt.
Michael Lark’s drawing style is crisp and clear — detailed without feathering or other linear folderol, heavily shadowed. And he picks up visual facial tics and makes his characters individual. Eve, for instance, has a somewhat thick lower lip and she’s always frowning. One of her twin siblings, Johanna, has the same lip, so it’s probably a Lark mark; but Johanna’s nose is different. The differences, although slight, are telling.
One of the most engaging aspects of the first issue is an essay at the end by Rucka wherein he describes, in exacting detail, how this story came to be. It is an articulate insight into the creative process, worth buying the book to witness.