Review: Lazarus, vol. 1 – Family

Greg Rucka’s latest comic book series features yet another iteration of his trademarked tough-gal protagonist. But I found Forever Carlyle (also referred to as Eve) to be quite an interesting, complex lead character.

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The setting of the book is futuristic, and the world building is pretty solid. It’s not a world difficult to imagine: the wealthy, rather than governments, run the world. Power is consolidated amongst a few warring families, and everyone else is either a “serf” (useful and in the employ of a family) or a “waste” (left to fend for themselves).

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Each family has a “Lazarus,” a member who is endowed with the best bio-mechanical advances science can provide, to be the family’s ultimate warrior. This is the story of Forever, Lazarus of the Carlyle family. And although we see her begin to question her role and actions, she’s not exactly a hero. Yet.

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Michael Lark’s dark, moody artwork fits the tone of Rucka’s dystopian crime epic perfectly. It’s everything you remember and expect from Lark: atmospheric, lush, textured. The action sequences are well choreographed and presented like a punch to the gut. The character moments are equally well-crafted, with plenty of scene setting and emotional depth.

These guys are veteran creators, and work so well together. On Lazarus, they’re absolutely in sync, and the result is a complex, layered, nuanced story. I’m looking forward to future installments.

Review: Fishtown

I like a good crime story now and then, especially in graphic novel format. Brubaker and Rucka have done some great ones, and I dug a lot of the entries in Vertigo’s line of crime books. This book – which started out as a Xeric award winning webcomic – is about 4 teenagers who murder another teen, for no real reason. I picked it up for cheap at Half Price Books, based solely on the interesting looking artwork and nice packaging. Well, the gamble didn’t pay off.

I really, really disliked this book.

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The main problem I had with the story is that the characters are all unlikable. No, strike that, they’re plain detestable. And there’s not much else to it than that. A bunch of vile assholes committing a horrific crime. The end.

There’s no depth to the events surrounding the crime. No exploration of the “why” of the crime. No insightful look at the lives of the perpetrators, other than a few pages of lip service paid to the broken domestic situation of a couple of them. And I do mean a couple pages out of over a 100. It’s not enough to make you have even a sliver of empathy or sympathy for the characters. Oh, and the sole female in the group is the most messed-up, manipulative, evil one of them all, even though you’re never shown what in her upbringing led to that. So basically you’re presented with a series of gruesome images of a hateful crime, as narrated by a bunch of unrepentant, despicable teens. The end.

Joy.

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The artwork is definitely the stronger craft shown here. It’s fairly solid, though at times it’s hard to distinguish between some of the characters. I did like the aesthetic of the art presentation, done in monochromatic yellow. But that’s about it.

There is skill in Colden’s storytelling, but the story itself is vile, nihilistic, and in my opinion, pointless.

Meet me at the Buckeye Book Fair

Next Saturday, November 2, I will be a guest of the 26th Annual Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio (near Cleveland). I’ll be joined by my Persia Blues artist partner in crime, Brent Bowman. You can find us at table #33.

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The annual Buckeye Book Fair is a full day event featuring nearly 100 Ohio authors and illustrators who meet with readers and autograph copies of their latest works. Thousands of attendees from all over Ohio come to mingle, shop for books, and celebrate the joys of reading and writing.

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The fair runs from 9:30 – 4:00 pm, and we’ll be signing copies of Persia Blues, as well a few of my other graphic novels. Hope to see some of you there!

Indie Cover Spotlight: Death’s Head #1

Spinning out of the pages of Eagle from Crystal Comics was the character of Death’s Head (not to be confused with the Marvel UK character, more on that in a second):

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Cover art by Eagle artists Neil D. Vokes. Published in 1987.

If I remember correctly, this is the only issue published. The character appeared in some backup stories in the monthly Eagle series, and after a cease and desist letter from marvel UK’s lawyers, the creators were forced to change the character’s name to Death’s Dark Angel.

Lawyers.

Brainbot, Jr. in Dark Horse Presents #29

Available today at fine comic book shops everywhere is Dark Horse Presents #29 (free preview here), featuring a 1-page Brainbot, Jr. strip by yours truly and the incomparable Tom Williams. Look for this cover by comics legend Neal Adams:

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Of course, it would be silly for you to pick up an 80-page book just for our single page contribution, so here’s a partial list of the other talented writers and artists featured in this issue: David Lapham, Andrew MacLean, CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan, Mike Baron, Ron Randall, Steve Niles, Michael T. Gilbert, Patrick Alexander, Steve Lieber, Steve Rude, menton3, and Richard Corben. Not too shabby, eh?

By the way, here’s our Brainbot strip, sans dialogue:

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Hey, that’s the best I can do for a preview, without giving the whole thing away. Pick up the book to see where the funny goes!

Indie Cover Spotlight: Eagle #11

This week, I’m going to spotlight another one of my favorite 80s black-and-white comic book series, Eagle:

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Published by Crystal Comics in 1987, this sci-fi/martial arts series followed the adventures of mystic warrior Richard Eagle, and featured the artwork of Neil Vokes. The book lasted for 16 issues, after which it was acquired by Apple Comics and finally ended with issue #23.

The cool thing about this series is that it would often sport pin-ups by other up and coming indie artists of the time, such as Matt Wagner, Tim Truman, and more.