Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Lazarus, Volume 2: Lift Review (Greg Rucka, Michael Lark)


Hundreds of thousands flock to Denver for the “Lift”, aka the job interview from hell, where “Waste” (people who live under the Families’ rule but are unemployed) get the chance to be “Serfs” (receive jobs and in return get a better way of life for them and theirs). Meanwhile, there’s a threat against the Carlyle family that Forever must neutralise, and we’re introduced to the Barrets, a “Waste” family, who lose their home and make the journey to Denver to try and become “Serfs”.

Lazarus Volume 2 is largely a setup book. It explains Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s dystopian future world a bit more while introducing new characters that, given the amount of space allocated to them, will likely have a major role to play in future volumes. Unfortunately, this is also a very dreary read with Rucka borrowing heavily from other dystopian sci-fis and not bringing enough of his own to the series or developing the story he started fairly well in the first volume.

One story thread follows Forever as a kid, training vigorously to become the killing machine her father wants her to be. We return to this flashback throughout the book and all that happens is that she’s not good enough at first and then she is by the end. Predictable and boring.

In fact, Forever steps back quite a bit in this volume as she’s involved in more of a background plot. In the present, she’s looking for a terrorist group with her family’s name on a bomb. Think she stops them in the end? And that’s that plotline! Again, predictable and boring.

Instead of this it would’ve been preferable if Rucka had explored the idea of the Lazarus itself – where did this come from? Why is it that each ruling family has one and only one? Rather than look into this, we get the dreary terrorist subplot and the repetitive training scenes. 

The bulk of the story concerns new characters, the Barrets, as they lose their home in Montana and hit the road to Denver. It’s a tough world surviving out there in this dystopian future where everything sucks, and they struggle against bandits and a total lack of resources. It’s a scenario that anyone who’s read/watched their share of sci-fi will have seen innumerable times before and Rucka’s rendering is nothing short of drearily unimpressive. I’ll just say it: Robert Kirkman does this scenario so much better in The Walking Dead, and I’m not even that much of a fan of that series either! 

There’s one cool scene near the start where Forever visits her family’s border with rival group, Bittner and Hock, one of whose soldiers shoots Forever, but of course she heals. Rather than picking up her own gun and taking him out, she uses her words to have the soldier’s own people punish him for his potshot. It’s an imaginative and original moment which is why it stood out to me amidst the rest of this rote story.

Rucka’s storytelling is very unimaginative but his writing is competent and Michael Lark’s art is very good. I can’t fault Lazarus Volume 2 too much on a technical level, but the story is unappealing, very dull and overly miserable without any payoff. I realise this is only Volume 2 so there’s unlikely to be any payoff yet but I’m not encouraged to go any further to see what happens next. I simply don’t care about any of these characters or their world - I don’t think this series is for me.

Lazarus, Volume 2: Lift

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