Archive for Lazarus

The Art of the Beat-Down


Moon Knight #5

A girl has been kidnapped and is being held on the fifth floor of a six-floor building. Moon Knight, dressed in his incredibly-spiffy white suit, walks up six flights of stairs beating the crap out of every crook he meets. That’s it. That’s the entire plot.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all the plot you need. I hate to say it’s a ballet of violence, but screw it, it’s a ballet of violence. It’s a really, really good ballet of violence. This is the next-to-the-last issue of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s run on this series, and I absolutely pity whoever has to follow them up. They’ve rocked on mysteries, on head-trippy stuff, on superhero stuff, and they’ve turned a straightforward fight comic into the best darn comic of the whole month. I swear, Marvel should just cancel the series and not force the followup team to suffer through the coming reviews.


Southern Bastards #3

Earl Tubb has embraced his daddy’s legacy. He’s got himself a great big ass-whupping plank of wood and a desire to visit vengeance on Craw County’s scumbags. But beating down on a few rednecks won’t solve the bone-deep problems with baked-in Alabama corruption. Earl Tubb is just one man, and if the bad guys can’t find him, they’ll hurt anyone who has a connection to him…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t know where y’all live, but here, it’s a roasting hot Texas summer. It gets hot in the morning, gets hotter as the day goes on, and doesn’t start to cool down ’til well after sundown. It’s a weird feeling — it’s nighttime, it’s still uncomfortably hot and humid, and as a result, everyone is sweaty and miserable and pissed-off. This comic book feels that way, too. And in this case, that’s actually a good thing.


Lazarus #9

It’s time for the Lift Selection — the Waste of the world, poverty-stricken, jobless, and mostly unwanted, have a chance to get hired as part of the staff of the Family Carlyle. The Barrets have traveled all the way to Denver and lost a daughter, all in the hope that their remaining child and a family friend can be designated Serfs and save the family from utter destitution. But at the same time, a terrorist is stalking the hordes of people in Denver, hoping to get close enough to the Carlyle patriarch to blow him up with a bomb. Can the Barrets make it through the punishing selection process? And can Forever Carlyle manage to find the terrorist before he massacres hundreds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a tense, well-told, compassionate three-pronged story. The art is gorgeous, the writing is pretty darn grand, and the reader is stuck with conflicting emotions — the Carlyles are representations of a horrible corporate tyranny, but they’re also the only hope the Barrets have of escaping grinding poverty — whose side do you choose?


Black Widow #8

While running an op, Natasha runs into the Winter Soldier, and they both get attacked by a horde of mercenaries. While they try to survive the paramilitary assault, Natasha’s lawyer is forced to take less-than-legal methods to recover money they haven’t been paid and must also deal with the repercussions of being the Black Widow’s public lawyer and business agent.

Verdict: As with so many issues of this series, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this issue, but it just bored me so much. Fantastic art, though — many kudos to Phil Noto.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Horrible Future and the Horrible Past


Lazarus #8

The Lift is coming, in which the Waste — poor, unskilled, and considered worthless by the all-powerful and impossibly wealthy Families — are given the opportunity to show they can be useful enough to be declared Serfs, with greater security and benefits. The Barret family are traveling to Denver, hoping to be selected, but they’ve already lost their daughter to bandits. While they travel with the other pilgrims on their way to Colorado, Forever Carlyle is tracking down a band of terrorists called the Free. They’ve managed to build a bomb, and they plan to use it in Denver, unless Forever can somehow stop them in time.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice slow build on the tension, combined with excellent characterization of Forever and the Barrets. We can be pretty sure that they’ll all come to clash somehow, and that it won’t be pretty for anyone, but I’m still looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.


The Witcher #2

Geralt the Witcher and Jakob the hunter are exploring a seemingly empty mansion in a haunted forest. Of course, it’s far from empty — there are some monsters and a whole room full of corpses. Jakob decides to try to find his late wife, who’s become a vampire, while Geralt encounters a friendly succubus named Vara. What’s her story? What’s wrong with the house? What’s buried in the basement?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Best thing about this, so far, is characterization and dialogue. Yeah, there’s some monster-fighting, but it’s the most fun listening to these people talk to each other.

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Rocket Queen


Rocket Girl #4

A couple of Quintum Mechanics enforcers from the future, riding jetcycles, have traveled back to 1986 to kill teen future-cop Dayoung Johansson. This kicks off a desperate chase — Dayoung’s technology isn’t as good as Quintum’s, and in an attempt to take them away from civilians who could be harmed by the battle, she leads them into the subway. Of course, the problem with flying rockets in the subway is that eventually, you’re going to be facing a head-on collision with a train. Can Dayoung survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not quite nonstop action, since we make a few side visits to the future and to present-day Quintum Mechanics, and those are a bit more talky — but beyond that, the chase scene is absolutely thrilling and amazing. Spectacular storytelling here from Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.


Lazarus #7

While Forever continues her investigation into the thefts of her family’s holdings and a possible upcoming terror attack, the Barret family — classified as Waste by the Carlyles — are on their way to Denver for the Lift Selection, hoping they can be picked to work for the Carlyles, giving them a chance to survive into the future. But the way is treacherous, and an encounter with bandits goes disastrously.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A heartbreaking but beautiful story — and not just for what happens to the Barrets, but also the glimpse we get into Forever’s punishing, lonely childhood.


A Voice in the Dark #5

In the aftermath of the disastrous sorority party, two of Zoey’s roommates have suffered some unfortunate consequences. Krista had deeply upsetting contacts with some frat boys, and Ashley has gotten an ethics sanction because sorority queen-bee Mandy told the university that Ash had slept with a professor during her freshman year. And Zoey later overhears Mandy and her boyfriend talking about how their plot to charge her with assault fell through because her uncle was a cop. Speaking of her uncle, Zoey has a talk with him about the current serial killer case in the community — and unbeknownst to her, she also has a brief run-in with the killer herself. And all of this has Zoey’s murderous instincts flaring up more than ever…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, fantastic artwork and a very brainy story. There’s fantastic character work going on here — and while there’s not a lot that’s really frightening here, it’s all getting things set up for the horror to come — and we’re getting to know these characters very well, so it’s really gonna hurt when they get it in the neck. Y’all need to be picking this comic up.

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A Mighty Wind


Mighty Avengers #6

Well, some ignorant Teabagger arsonist is getting chased through the city by swarms of pigeons. Probably a lot better than he deserves. The White Tiger is wearing herself out patrolling almost all the time. Power Man has just learned that his powers are strongest after he’s studied history, of all things. Spectrum never should’ve had her hair straightened. Luke Cage and the Blue Marvel have a big argument. And glory be, ring the bells, this issue is illustrated by Valerio Schiti, not that hack Greg Land!

Verdict: Thumbs up. NO GREG LAND!

For the rest of the story — lots of great moments of character interaction, particularly between Adam Brashear and Jessica Jones, and between Adam and Luke. I also really, really dig the bit with Spectrum regretting her hair-care decisions — I get the impression that her new hairstyle was decided on strictly because Land was too lazy to change the hair he’d traced from his Halle Berry pix.


Lazarus #6

The Barret family are, in the jargon of the corporate-blessed future, Waste. They’re not the mega-wealthy Families who own the world, and they’re not the proles who are useful to the Families. They made a life in the wilds of Montana, but a flood has wiped out their home, and they have to choose between rebuilding and getting even further in debt to the Carlyles or hitting the road and risking starvation and bandits to try to enter the Carlyle’s service as serfs. Meanwhile, Forever Carlyle tracks a security breach, unaware that others may be plotting directly against her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Characterization and artwork are still outstanding, and I love the weird plausibility of this future timeline — the one-percenters have everything, the 99%ers have nothing, and the world has legitimately gone to hell.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • There are so many great superhero movies that could be getting made — if only Hollywood would get off its butt and start thinking seriously about stories and demographics. (Warner’s stubbornness on the Wonder Woman movie is looking more and more like a mental deficiency, and I can’t figure out why Marvel keeps sticking A-list actresses like Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow in supporting roles behind less impressive actors and less bankable stars.)
  • This article on the recent evolution/creationism debate is entirely worth reading.
  • George Zimmerman is one of the worst people in the country, and the fact that he keeps getting away with crimes, keeps getting paid real money, and keeps getting worshiped by the racist segment of the population should be embarrassing to the entire country.

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Chained Coffin


Coffin Hill #3

Something dark and dreadful is in the woods near where Eve Coffin grew up. Seeking answers, she goes home and confronts her mother, who, like Eve, is a powerful witch. Eve also visits the local insane asylum to visit an old friend who got driven mad by Eve’s black magic. And it turns out the doctor running the asylum may not be entirely stable himself. Is Eve ever going to get to the bottom of this case — or just to the bottom of a shallow grave?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s spooky and weird and occasionally actually unnerving. I’m still having fun with it. And Eve’s weird cracked blackened eye may be a big part of the fun…


Manifest Destiny #2

The Lewis and Clark expedition has run into a serious snag — they’ve managed to kill a gigantic bison centaur that attacked them, and the crew is understandably freaked out about that — especially when the autopsy reveals that it’s a juvenile. And things get weirder when they see a woman throw herself off a cliff — and then her body disappears. And then a herd of the bison centaurs attacks. Most of the crew manage to get safely into a nearby fort — which is mysteriously deserted. It is deserted, isn’t it? Mmmmaybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s very weird, yes, but what really drives the story forward is a huge amount of paranoid tension. The expedition is in an untamed wilderness, possibly surrounded on all sides by hostile monsters — and even when they make it to safety, we still expect something horrible to spring out and attack. So far, it’s wonderful daylight horror.


Lazarus #5

We get a quick look at Forever Carlyle’s less-than-ideal childhood, mostly devoid of love or affection and devoted to combat training. Back in the present, Forever tries to track her renegade brother, runs into some nogoodniks on the border of the family’s territory, and gets shot in the back by the nogoodniks. Of course, Forever is extremely hard to kill, and she manages to throw enough fear into the nogoodniks to get them to execute the guy who shot her. But a lot of the drama in this issue focuses on a small family of Waste — the bulk of the population with few resources and no benefits from contact with or service to the Family. The Barretts live in Montana and are facing a catastrophic flood. Can they get the Family to provide them any assistance or are they, like the rest of the Waste, just hopelessly out of luck?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole thing has a really strong focus on just how crappy this world is for everyone in it. Forever is loved by no one, the nogoodniks can’t even rely on each other, and while the Barretts may be better off than some of the Waste, they ultimately have no support and no defense against tragedy. It’s a thoroughly brutal comic, and I reckon it deserves to win all kinds of awards.


Day Men #2

Five months between Issue #1 and Issue #2? Bad form, Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson, and Brian Stelfreeze.

David Reid is a normal human who works for the Virgos, a family of vampire mobsters, taking care of the tasks that need to be done during the day. The Virgos are at war with the rival vampire clan called the Ramses. David is very good at his job, but the Ramses are uncommonly ruthless, and their day man, Jacob the Burner, is the best in the business. Can David save a member of the Virgo clan when the Burner sets his fiery sights on her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice story, great art, excellent drama and action. But the next issues better show up in a much more timely fashion, or people are gonna start to lose interest.

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The Bandwagon Wants You!


The Movement #5

The wealthy plutocrats of Coral City are upset that the Movement has been as powerful as it has been — and that it’s inspiring similar uprisings of the underclasses all over the world. Now they intend to hire superpowered mercenaries to restore their preferred social order. Meanwhile, Virtue meets with Captain Meers — he tries to talk her out of holding a televised trial for Officers Whitt and Pena on the charges of being dirty cops. But the trial goes on — Katharsis is in charge of the prosecution, Tremor for the defense, and Vengeance Moth presiding as the judge. Mouse goes after the Cornea Killer, Whitt and Pena discover that Vengeance Moth has powers of her own, and one member of the Movement decides things have gone too far.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of things going on. There are plenty of comics with only a small number of events going on, and they still feel like they’re plodding. This one had a lot of stuff happening, and nothing felt rushed, and everything felt exciting and fun. This is probably the best issue of this title so far.


Lazarus #4

Forever Carlyle and Joacquim Morray, the almost unkillable Lazaruses of their rival families, have been ambushed by Forever’s renegade siblings. A Carlyle family hit squad prepares to execute them, but a Lazarus is very good at surviving and killing. Once the hit squad has been dealt with, it’s time to track down who the family traitor is — but the Carlyles are almost as good at treachery and intrigue as Forever is at killing people…

Verdict: Thumbs up. All around excellent storytelling — and don’t neglect to read the future timeline in the back of the comic. It has a lot of interesting details about how this world turned out the way it did.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • BLOG NOTICE: We’re having an unusually large amount of spam comments clogging the spam filter. So I’m gonna try to institute comment registration. Yeah, this is gonna be a bit trouble, and there may be some bumps. Hopefully, things will go fairly smoothly. If we have too much trouble, I may just go back to the old way, but I’d love to be able to frustrate a bunch of spammers…
  • An 18-part crossover? Eighteen parts? DC Comics can go hang.
  • Here’s a heart-breaking zombie tale for you.
  • There’s politics, and then there’s coup attempts. One is how the world operates. The other requires serious, serious punishments.

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A Bunch of Comics that Really Didn’t Do that Much for Me

Let’s run through ’em fast.


Captain Marvel #15

So Carol didn’t die in space. She just lost her memory and is somehow faking her way through everything. A ton of superheroes go to blow up some evil aliens called the Builders, but Carol gets stuck in space all alone, then she turns into Binary. Okay, fine, everything old is new again.

Verdict: Ehh.


FF #11

The FF go back in time to try to rescue the Fantastic Four, but they get hijacked by the Impossible Man, and they agree to take on his son Adolf as a student.

Verdict: Ehh.


The Green Team #4

Everyone fights Riot, who turns out to be Comm’s father. Cecilia loses her cyborg arm, and the nanites in Comm’s suit give him superpowers.

Verdict: Ehh.


Lazarus #3

Forever Carlyle visits the Morray family to offer them a truce. She and Joacquim, the Morray Lazarus get along very well. Jonah and Johanna Carlyle, however, are plotting against everyone.

Verdict: A bit better, but still mostly ehh.


Uncanny Avengers #11

Daken stabs Wolverine through the head, the Sentry tears his own face off, and the Scarlet Witch may be about to rapture every mutant on Earth to another planet.

Verdict: I’m a little amazed how little I care about this comic.


Young Avengers #9

Prodigy’s smooch with Hulkling is just gonna cause more angst. The rest of the team meets Leah, a former handmaiden of Hela banished to another dimension by Loki years ago. The team finally rescues Hulkling and Prodigy from Mother’s dimension by hitting her with a bunch of evil alternates versions of themselves. And Kate Bishop is close enough to her birthday that she’ll end up becoming an adult and joining Mother’s side soon. Plus Hulkling’s new therapist looks familiar…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The only one of these I really enjoyed. Lots of fun, lots of action, plenty of intrigue and mystery and humor and spooky stuff.

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Behind the Masque


Hawkeye Annual #1

Our focus in this new annual isn’t on Clint Barton, but on Kate Bishop, who’s finally gotten fed up with Clint’s self-pitying moronitude and caught a flight to the West Coast. Unfortunately, Madame Masque, who holds a grudge against Kate because she humiliated her in a previous battle, finds out she’s heading for Cali. Masque manages to get all of Kate’s stuff — her car, her weapons, her clothes, her money — stolen. Luckily, she finds a new friend — Whitney Frost, a wealthy socialite who offers to put her up for the night and also maybe to kill her. Oh, because Whitney Frost is also Madame Masque. How is Kate going to escape from a crazed criminal mastermind and her dozens of loyal stooges?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fun, funny, action-packed story starring Kate Bishop, who is all kinds of awesome. This thing is full of fantastic dialogue, too. Can we talk art? Javier Pulido’s art is worlds of fun. Stylish and nifty and cartoonish and, like I said, worlds of fun. Y’all love Hawkeye, right? Of course you do. Go pick this one up, kids.


Lazarus #2

Forever Carlyle is her family’s Lazarus — an almost unkillable combat machine responsible for protecting the family members and their assets. And she’s started doubting her mission, at least partially because her brothers and sisters are all irredeemable scumbags who spend most of their time plotting against each other. But the Carlyle family is apparently under attack by the rival Morray family, her siblings want to go to war, and Forever has strong misgivings about all of this. Her father appears to share those misgivings — but he may be just as conniving as his children. He charges Eve with a secret mission, and she accompanies one of her brothers back to Los Angeles. While her siblings steam over what she’s up to, Eve takes a trip deep into enemy territory…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The dystopia described is still fascinating — and definitely check the sidebars in the letter column for this world’s history — and Forever remains a very deeply interesting character. Her siblings are all absolute scum, and I think we’ll enjoy getting to watch them all get killed eventually. The art is gorgeous, too. It’s just the second issue — there’s still time to get in on the beginning of this one, if you haven’t done so yet.


Uncanny Avengers #10

The Avengers are squabbling amongst themselves and splitting up to try to locate the Apocalypse Twins, but the twins are already several steps ahead — and they’ve created their own Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. But this time, they’re called the Four Horsemen of Death, because they’re all, well, dead. Banshee takes out Havok and the Scarlet Witch, the Grim Reaper goes after Wonder Man, the Sentry drags Thor to a planet on the other side of the galaxy, and Daken targets Wolverine.

Verdict: Ehh, it’s not that bad, but it’s also seeming more and more needlessly complicated. Of the resurrected characters, Banshee is the only one I’ve got any real affection for, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll somehow manage to keep him alive. But for the rest — the Grim Reaper was a nonentity, Daken was strictly there to be a psycho, and I’d prefer that the Sentry be erased from history.

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Arise, Lazarus


Lazarus #1

The new series by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark is a dystopian sci-fi study on a woman who can’t die. Our setting is the future, when there are no more nations or states, just a handful of wealthy families that govern a small number of useful serfs and a far larger population of the seemingly useless poor, called the Waste. Our lead character is Forever “Eve” Carlyle, the protector of the Family Carlyle. She’s a genetically-engineered warrior known as a Lazarus who regenerates from all damage and is a specialist in all forms of combat. She’s not exactly loved by her family, but she has her duty and she’s willing to carry it out.

Our story starts as Eve is ambushed by some Waste looking for food. They shoot her and leave her for dead, but she heals up, tracks them down, and slaughters them. And it’s soon learned that a rival family invaded one of the Carlyle food compounds, shot a bunch of guards and tried to steal the seed vaults. How did they manage to get so far onto the family property? It’s suspected that they had help from some of the serfs on the inside — one of the technicians betrayed the family, and the family expects their Lazarus to find and execute the traitor. Does Eve have enough faith in her family to do the job?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very, very nice work here. Excellent writing and art, very enjoyable world-building and characterization. Seriously, this looks like it’s going to be a very interesting story.


FF #8

The Future Foundation returns to New York City, and we get treated to an issue of shenanigans and wrap-up. Doctor Doom makes his move to force Alex Power to be his pawn. Bentley-23 and Ahura wage a Home Alone-style battle against all the other kids in the Baxter Building. Darla Deering gets a couple of rings to help her change into her Miss Thing costume more quickly, leading to a sequence designed to appeal to comic fans of my advanced age. Medusa and She-Hulk have a brawl over Medusa endangering the kids and Jenn’s refusal to treat her like nobility. The D.O.O.M.H.E.R.B.I.E.S. discuss Daft Punk, and some of the Fantastic Four’s greatest enemies prepare to make their moves against the Future Foundation.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fairly humdrum issue, in a way — most of it’s devoted to fairly friendly slugfests. But the bits with the Thing Rings, Daft Punk, Doom, and a few other small but significant moments carry this one over the top.


Young Avengers #6

We check in with a couple of character who aren’t part of the Young Avengers team, at least not yet — Speed, a young speedster and kinda-sorta brother of Wiccan, and Prodigy, a former mutant who managed to absorb the knowledge of a huge number of people before he lost his powers, making him a super-genius in everything from science to combat. Both of them are working for a mysterious company — Prodigy takes technical support calls on every subject from bomb disarming to how to fight Elektra. Speed assembles electronics, doing dreary months’ worth of work in mere minutes. They discover that someone wearing the costume of Speed’s former teammate Patriot is sabotaging the company, and they decide to stop him. But whoever it is, it isn’t Patriot, and he has abilities they can’t counter. What the heck is going on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great couple of character studies, and I hope we see both of these guys on the team soon enough. All in all, a really nice, excellently designed comic book.

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