Comics and Cosplay
Review: Lazarus #11 Delivers Doubt and Dystopia

Marla Desat | 12 Sep 2014 14:00
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Lazarus 11 cover

Enemies are scheming on every side, but the seeds of doubt growing in Forever Carlyle's mind may be the most dangerous of them all.

Corporations have replaced governments in Greg Rucka's hard science fiction series Lazarus, and all the grey shades of dystopia are present in the world that results. All of the money, and therefore the power, is concentrated among 16 families who have divided the world into their territories. The rest of us are either lucky enough to be Serfs, the skilled workers that the family values, or we live out our lives as Waste, little more than human nuisance. In Lazarus #11, the 16 families are about to come together for a conclave, their first meeting since the world was divided up among them. The conclave was prompted by the a ransom demand for Jonah Carlyle, the traitorous son of Malcolm Carlyle, who is now in the hands of his enemy, Jakob Hock.

Writer Greg Rucka explores what the world would look like with corporations, controlled by powerful families, in charge of everything. The wealth divide in the world of Lazarus is a chasm, with those at the bottom scraping by and those at the top having access to every innovation, luxury, and advancement. Lazarus follows Forever "Eve" Carlyle, who serves as her family's Lazarus, a sort of super soldier. Every family has one, and the Lazarus is charged with the protection of the family and its lands.

In issue #11, Forever is really beginning to doubt what she is and what her place is within Carlyle. She's been raised to believe that she is the daughter of Malcolm and Abigail Carlyle, genetically enhanced and trained to serve as the family's Lazarus, a powerful protector meant to defend the family, command its armies, and maintain its security. The series so far has alluded to the fact that Forever is not exactly what she's been told, but it's not until Forever receives a strange message from an unknown sender that she begins to question her place in the family.

Forever suspects the message is from her traitorous brother Jonas, meant as a final turning of the screws. When Forever asks about her birth, her sister assures her that she is really Carlyle, but Forever isn't satisfied. Wondering the compound where she was raised and trained to fight, she runs into her old mentor, Marisol. Marisol is 90, but she looks barely 40. The Carlyle medical magic works well for those who can serve the family. Forever trusts Marisol more than even her sister, and show her the message: "He is not your Father. This is not your Family." Forever confides in Marisol that she hasn't told anyone about the message, or her concerns, but then an urgent request comes in from the border.


Sonja Bittner, Lazarus for the Bittner family, has arrived at the outskirts of Carlyle territory, and she's demanding a meeting with Forever. Sonjua is the third Lazarus we've seen. The second was Joacquim Morray, the Lazarus for the Morray family, back in issue #4. Morray and Carlyle haven't been exactly convivial, but things have been better since Jonah's plan to drive the two families into war failed. Bittner, on the other hand, is allied with Hock, Carlyle's main enemy. Sonja looks like a walking plate mail suit of armor with a courtesy cloak, though she's later revealed to be at least partly flesh and blood, despite my hopes for a more mechanical Lazarus. (And, as a bit of an aside as a sword geek, oh man, look at those fancy little tipped up ends on the crossguard, that would make for some painful eye-gouging, and that blade length looks like it's somewhere in between a longsword and arming sword, probably good for close combat.) Forever is whisked away from the compound to meet with the Sonja, who delivers Jonah's finger on behalf of Hock. Forever discusses the situation with her father, and they call for a conclave to discuss the ransom, rather than pay it or go to war.

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