Following up on the events of the last of the most recent issues of Lazarus, Lazarus X+66 #2 focuses on the aftermath of Morrey Family’s betrayal of the Carlyles and looks at what happens to a Lazarus who doesn’t obey orders and dares to think for himself. What is the price to be paid when when the duty to family, loyalty, honor and self interest all clash?
The Lazarus stories take place in a dystopic world of the near future where all the resources are tightly controlled by a small group of families, like the mafia gone global. There are three castes in this world: Family, whose members rule the world and all the resources; Serfs, those who have skills needed by the families to maintain their power and influence; and Waste, everyone else. While Waste can sometimes learn skills and be promoted to Serf, there is only one way to become family: birth. Each Family has a Lazarus, a cybernetic warrior trained to carry out covert missions, or to take care of problems too hard for the Families’ regular armed forces.
Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman, Whiteout, 52) and Aaron Duran (La Brujreia) use this issue to explore what happened to Joacquim Morray, the Lazarus for the Morray Family after they overrode his free will and forced him to stab Forever Carlyle at the height of a battle in an act of betrayal to their allies. His body was recovered and repaired, but can the Family still trust him to complete his assignments without hesitation. If Joacquim can’t prove his loyalty, the Morrays will wipe out his mind and just control his body remotely during missions.
They (at least, some of them) would rather have a loyal family member who can act independently, since remote controls are subject to signal interference and make the Lazarus a less effective tool. Now they have a mission that will test his loyalty and determine if he can remain a person.
It is interesting that many people have praised the world building done by Rucka and Michael Lark in the core series, all while the creators fear that people have missed the more important points about loyalty and duty made in the series, especially when these individual issues seem to do at least as much world building (or expanding) as the main series. But since each of these is a solo story wrapped up each issue, you can’t help but see the corrupting influence of too much power as greed and fear seem to undermine all other values.
If you’ve heard about the Lazarus series and were wondering if you’d like it, these one shots of the X+66 may be your perfect way in. Each comes with an introduction of who the characters are and their importance to the main story, but they each stand alone so you can get a real feel for this world. It might be worth spending the $3.99 before deciding on whether or not to go for the trades.
Writers: Greg Rucka & Aaron Duran
Artist: Mack Chater
Colors: Santi Arcas
Cover Art: Michael Lark