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The story running through issues #1-4 of Image Comics' new series from Greg Ruka and Michael Lark is collected as Lazarus Volume 1 TP. This is an expertly written and superbly illustrated story. The setting is sketched in with a caption and a bit of dialogue here and there; no exposition or huge chunks of descriptive detail are needed for the reader to be able to read between the lines with just a glance and for a fully-formed world to manifest, such is the skill of the creative team. I can write a paragraph here to describe the setting of the story, and that would be more descriptive text than the writer needed to use.

This is a dystopian/post apocalyptic sort of future based on Mafia families and stories - though the rulers are not the Mafia as such. In fact the ones we meet all have Scottish surnames, though that must be just a coincidence, surely...? Anyway, the only people who matter are members of the Families; they have `serfs' who work for them and the rest of the population are `the Waste'. Think about all the `good' Mafia stories you have seen, and it falls in to place.

Each Family has a Lazarus - a super-soldier who is the protector/hitman for the family members and who works directly for the Father.

The first issue introduces all the players, sets up their characters and the background. It seemed fairly obvious what was going on, and there are a few obvious plot lines for future development. However, it is still a masterfully constructed and illustrated story - you don't just create such a complex world that the reader can understand straight off without careful planning.

Issue #1 opens with the Carlyle family's Lazarus being violently killed in the middle of a burglary. However, she gets up after a minute or two and kills the intruders, introducing us to the world of a Lazarus. She is then sent out to the site of a recent attack on a Carlyle Family facility, where she is forced to execute an innocent staff member as a scapegoat. These scenes, and the interpersonal interactions surrounding them, introduce all the players and background information, without the need for any expository captions whatever.

Issue #2 gives us a look inside the Lazarus, courtesy of a medical scanner, followed by a look inside the Family, courtesy of various Family members interacting, arguing and plotting. We also discover that Eve (A.K.A. Forever), the Lazarus is not genetically a member of the Carlisle Family, though she doesn't know it. We also have our suspicions raised that one of the Brothers is a loony troublemaker, and is up to something with one of his sisters. Eve is then sent on a secret mission to the Family Moray, in Mexico, who were responsible for the attack in issue #1.

Issue #3 sees Eve as a guest of the Family Moray Lazarus (Joacquim) in Mexico, awaiting the arrival of the head of Family Carlisle. Brother Jonah in LA is getting very nervous that his father has discovered what he and his sister Johanna are up to, and decides that Eve will not be returning from Mexico... where she is negotiating peace terms with the Morays. On their arrival at the Border, the two Lazaruses (Lazarii?) are attacked...

Issue #4 sees Forever fighting off an attack by Carlisle commandos, while Johanna prepares her alibi, and Jonah panics. There is a hint of attraction between Joacquim and Forever, and on the final page, Forever gets an anonymous email hinting at something that we already know about the Lazaruses...
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on 21 November 2013
A gripping, fantastically-drawn story by 2 comic legends. The near future: power and wealth are now concentrated not in the hands of governments or corporations, but cartel-like Families, who own their own compounds and territories. And like the present-day cartels and governments, each is trying to gain the upper hand over the other...
This is where their Lazarus comes in, each Family having created a semi-artificial being who is part superspy, part Terminator-like killing machine.
But what happens to a killing machine that starts to have...doubts? Read it and find out. 10 stars, never mind 5.
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on 10 May 2014
Post apocalyptic, dystopian game of thrones about rich people double crossing each other and the likable pawns in their power struggles. There are twists and turns which manage to be neither boringly predictable nor unsatisfying obtuse. It rumbles along at an astounding pace without sacrificing story line, violence is gratifying without being unnecessary and the characters range from deviously abhorrent (without becoming too cliched) to tantalizingly grey. The 'Sci' element lends credibility to the events and technologies without becoming tiresome while the 'Fi' is contextualized through recognizable and relatable concepts widely considered plausible in our own uncertain future. It maintains both heart and mind though is devoid of sentimentality. The art is super good too.
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on 14 September 2014
Greg Rucka has exceeded all expectations with this new series. Volume 1 has masterful world building, and a very unique character in the form of a genetically modified human named Forever Carlyle. The near future dystopia is not cliché as most dystopian fictions are, and the structure of the world's political sphere is based on family control over different areas. Would really recommend picking this graphic novel up, and the four page 'preview' at the back of the book that wasn't shown in any of the floppies/single issues is really great and delves deeper into the dynamic between Forever and her father.
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on 29 April 2015
Lazarus Volume 1 presents a grippy story with intriguing characters, and it impresses with the amount of content, depth and storytelling through just four issues.

Forever Carlyle is the protector of her family, she is a shield maiden, a sheriff - a female Judge Dredd to some extent.

The Carlyle family finds itself in a situation with a neighbouring family; Forever is tasked with solving the issue, but is everything as it seems?

An enticing, thrilling easy read with solid artwork and it makes you want to keep on reading beyond this volume and the next!
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on 14 December 2013
Wicked! This starts off no holds barred violent with us learning our main character is not somehow quite exactly human. Through this violence and her, Eva, the futuristic world is unveiled. One ruled by families, with small numbers of blood members. These then work similar to medieval fiefdoms with trained Serfs serving the family and then an overload of expendable population called Waste. Right away we see Eva's problem with the majority of her family members is that she seems to be having a conscience, this is not allowed in her position and her doctor is doing what he can for her. This was all great hard-edged stuff, very violent, political, guerrilla warfare like. But when the family got together in their mansion the huddled tete-a-tetes in corners, the secret meetings, the explosive family gatherings and wild relationships between family members and servants was pure soap opera, making me think of "Dynasty in Space". Sounds corny when I write it like that but I looooved the dynamics of it all. By the end of the book we've already got one family member booted out and on the run for his/her life. Can't wait for this to continue!!
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on 1 April 2014
I have to admit to being a fan of most of Greg Rucka's work, so I came to this in the hope that it would be a good read. In fact it's more than that. When working with Michael Lark he seems to come into his own, and this is no exception.

A great start to what become a really strong fan cult favourite series. The concepts of the Lazaruses (Lazari?) protecting the families from outsiders and each other is a really intrguing one and I hope it will be given the time to develop and unravel.

Great start, guys!
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on 28 December 2013
The Rucka/Lark combo is fantastic. And the futuristic storyline is simple, horrible and curious questions. I really look forward to the next issue.
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on 28 March 2016
A complex near future world is now set out in clans/families.
Each family has workers (serfs) and wasters.

This story is about eve Carlyle and her complex family set up.

A great introduction and a book that has a great grounding to get better and better.....
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on 18 March 2014
I'm not gonna give spoilers so I'll just say that I like the genre and gave it a chance and I'm glad I did and I'm now patiently waiting for the next episodes.
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