It’s Wednesday, and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark (pencils and inks) and Tyler Boss (inks)
Colored by Santi Arcas
Lettered by Jodi Wynn
Rucka & Lark’s dark future continues to unfold in Lazarus, where the world is literally ruled by a dozen wealthy families who use the rest of the dwindling population to build their empires and wage war against one another. As with much of Rucka’s work, it’s a complex ensemble piece centered around a badass woman warrior. As with all of Lark’s work, it is simultaneously gorgeous and gritty.
Last issue ended with our heroine, Forever Carlyle, getting her brains blown out, but don’t worry, they don’t call her a Lazarus for nothing, and she’ll wake up given some time. Our real worries are for the Carlyle military squad she’s leading, and the war effort that depends on their success. Our viewpoint character within the squad is Corporal Casey Solomon, a character we followed through a tragic and treacherous journey in a previous story arc. Since the main character of Lazarus is nigh-unkillable and the rest of her family is made up of amoral shitheels, Rucka’s been wise to supply the reader with sympathetic, relatable, and—most importantly—expendable secondary characters. We’ve seen Casey go through hell just to end up in a different hell, and it’s rewarding to see her take charge of her team and try to complete their crucial mission without their super powered escort.
Lark’s battle scenes are always vivid and harrowing, and much of the credit should go to colorist Santi Arcas, whose earthy palette conveys the sweaty, hopeless life of the serfs and waste as they fight for the defense and profit of “families” who don’t value their lives. Battle sequences in Lazarus are especially striking, because the series forgoes nearly all “sound effects.” It’s completely up to Lark, Arcas and inker Tyler Boss to make every strike land with a crunch, every bullet sink into flesh with a “pip pip.”
Lazarus is a tense read every month, but this issue conveyed a special sense of dread that can only be brought out on special occasions
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Story by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox
Art by Emi Lenox
Plutona opens with the titular superheroine laying crumpled, seemingly lifeless, and very much alone in a daunting stretch of forest. No explanation is given aside from a news broadcast with vague police reports that are intercepted by a young “capespotter,” Teddy, who is part of an online community that tracks superhero activity. Teddy’s hobby, however, is about to become the real deal as he and some school acquaintances make a frightening discovery in the woods. This trope of a group of ragtag kids being thrown together feels a little Animorphs-y, in that this group that doesn’t fit together must now work together, possibly to save the world.
Jeff Lemire’s thoughtful story development is complemented by Emi Lenox’s lovely illustrations that balance soft tween faces with a kind of hard ’90s indie aesthetic that can be seen especially in the way the kids are dressed. The art and the story are equally responsible for the strong character maturation, which is impressive for a premiere issue. Lenox introduces each kid with a close up of their eyes, all of which hold the same expression but for starkly different reasons as Lemire reveals their varied homelives. These facial close-up chapter headings are mirrored in the cover of the mini Plutona adventure at the end of the comic, drawn by Lemire himself with his trademark pained and extremely worried faces.
The actual turning point of the comic doesn’t come into play until the end, but the relationships between the characters carry the story well enough in the meantime. This first issue plays its cards pretty close to the chest, too close for me to really delve into it too much, but that last panel and the extra effort put into Plutona as a character open all kinds of deep story potential for the next installment.
– Sarah Register
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