6.26.13 [Weekly Reviews]
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Lazarus #1 (Image): It didn’t take long for me to realize that Lazarus was registering in my brain because it marries together two of my favorite genres of storytelling, good old crime family stuff with dystopian world-building. On top of that, Greg Rucka fills it with procedural jargon, which is something I totally have a weakness for. I mean, Queen & Country is still one of my favorite comics of the Modern Age, right alongside Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary, and that's a big part of the reason why. On top of that, Michael Lark comes along and just nails specific scenes like the silent fight choreography, in addition to the general aesthetic of the entire book. The liberal inks fit with a somewhat monochromatic palette, which pops at all the right times to punctuate blue sorrow or red blood. It’s almost sickening the way everything just works so well here, but I don’t want to give the creative team short shrift for all of the hard work involved. Rucka reveals in the satisfying back-matter that the duo has been noodling this story for about a decade, and the time invested, the thought given to every detail, really shows. That back-matter is a fun behind-the-scenes tour through the origins of the series, an assist from Warren Ellis, frightening stats about the pooling effect of global wealth, and the true, ground-out, hard-earned, collaborative work ethic between Rucka and Lark. Yeah, there’s a little mishap with oxycontin vs. oxytocin in the dialogue, but the story of Forever Carlyle, the enforcer, the protector, the avatar, the titular Lazarus of Family Carlyle, maybe not quite having the moral flexibility needed for her mission in life and recounting some recent physical and emotional trauma is so full of instantly realized potential. One of the reasons I think Lazarus works on such a primal level is that it plays on our intuitive fears surrounding what we already know. We already know that wealth is power. We already know wealth can buy you freedom, influence, access, justice, and control. We know that the middle class is rapidly being eliminated. We know that you are basically either a “have” or a “have not” and anything in between feels like a fleeting liminal state. Rucka and Lark take this future to a logical extreme, where paramilitary crime families run armed farm camps and use personal biotechnology that’s advanced through classic sci-fi means. You do that to survive in this world. You do that or you die. It’s clear to me that Lazarus is one of the best debuts of the year. It’s one of the best books of the year. It might even be a contender for THE best book of the year. It’s going to be an impossible challenge to down-select to my 13 finalists for “best of” later this year. I have double that number penciled in as contenders and the year is only half over! Bravo once again to Image Comics for being a home, a force, an advocate of Creator-Owned Comics and unleashing this type of raw and unbridled imagination. It’s books like this that are the future of the industry. Grade A+.
Mind MGMT #12 (Dark Horse): [Note: It’s a hectic week for me with work, friends and family visiting from out of town for summer festivities, SDCC looming and general comics “stuff” happening in the background, so this week’s reviews might be a little shorter than usual, with posts at odd times and intervals, I guess?] This intense issue is the culmination of so many threads that’ve come before. Matt Kindt weaves us through Meru’s revelations in her personal history, the history of the agency’s verbal field guides, and a somewhat Gaiman-esque library at the end of the world that has the objective recorded history of human events. In addition to Kindt’s trademark washes of color, there’s so much visual style in little flourishes, like the way a trench coat hangs or the way cigarette smoke pierces a panel border. This book just gets better and better as time goes on, working out clarity and intent, in what is probably the most aesthetically distinct book on the stands. Kindt is crafting a modern classic that manages a delicate and sophisticated balance between fiction and reality. Grade A.