We are officially at the halfway point of this miniseries that takes place 66 years after The Families reorganized the world order. This story features mostly Joe and Bobbie Barrett. They were previously Waste and we see the discomfort and struggle that rising can bring. For those who don’t know, the world is now separated out into three monetarily based groups: Family, Serf, and Waste. Joe and Bobbie went through a process called lifting and now are in the Serf category. This should be seen as a good thing, but this issue shows how that more privileged position has difficulties all its own. While not the most exciting issue, it does provide a good deal of world building and that makes it a must read for fans of Lazarus.
Seemingly far away from the visibly dystopian homes of the Waste, this issue highlights the Serf areas of San Francisco. The city is described as a jewel of the Carlyle family crown and appears to be filled with comfort and privilege. Still, the control of resources is an ever-present context. The story Greg Rucka and Neal Bailey tell opens with the Spring Lift Ball celebrating those who have risen above their prior rank, but little atmospheric comments about never seeing so much food before make it feel more like a carefully controlled display of power than a celebration. This emphasizes the restrictive nature of the Barrett family’s new life without having to explain it. As we all know, it is better to show than to tell. This also gives the issue an old school science fiction tone with the world itself feeling just off enough that it is unsettling. The perspectives we are given are also important as the Barrett’s have recently been lifted and can see things that others may have forgotten. There is a strong “them” versus “us” dynamic with lots of little rebellious acts to alleviate the tension brought on by the restrictions they must live under. This is the strongest aspect of the issue with Rucka’s skillful couple’s banter and a moment where we see how a vineyard is managed. The Serfs are essentially treated as slaves in this location. There is even a joke of sorts regarding whipping workers… take that how you will. Regardless, it was simply delicious when Bobbie pours the bottle of wine down the sink. There are a lot of thematic parallels to our current societal situation at play and this resonates enough with the readership that their letters section is several pages long and focuses on these topics. This is not a comic one can escape into.
While the writing is obviously quite solid, the art mostly holds up well too. Justin Greenwood’s backgrounds are top-notch and he has a strong eye for detail. The hyperbolic contrasts between the Ball celebrating the recently lifted and the homes of the Waste where those people recently lived are particularly well done. The balance between the oranges and blues in the color palate Santi Arcas makes use of in these different locations perfectly supports this. It is easy to see why there would be so much discomfort surrounding the situation. That said, there are moments where the faces on people are just weird to look at. It took me out of the story in a few spots as I tried to figure out what was going on with them. It is almost like the facial features had shifted slightly from where they were supposed to be located on their face. Jodi Wynne deserves a shout out too as the lettering choices, and locations of them, sometimes blend in and sometimes interrupt in clever ways. I especially enjoyed the boxes at the top giving us information such as the date, location, and population breakdown.
With all the buzz about Lazarus, this miniseries is a good time to try it out as each story stands alone. This particular issue may not make a fan out of you, but there is a lot for the previously established fans to appreciate. Works like these are important in a time like this and I can’t think of anything better to end this review on than Greg Rucka’s own words: “Resist. Rise. Be Free.”
Story: Greg Rucka, Neal Bailey
Art: Justin Greenwood
Cover: Michael Lark