Gotham Central was a fascinating book, a street level look at trying to be a normal cop in a city full of costumed and superpowered maniacs that was written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, with the main artist being Michael Lark and which ran during the early to mid-noughties before ending with realignment of the Gotham PD in the wake of Infinite Crisis. I'm kicking off with a mention of this series because for me it has proved the incentive to seek out work by all three of the main creatives on it, including mainstream stuff like Greg Rucka's Batwoman, and the creator owned stuff like Ed Brubaker's Scene Of The Crime (covered earlier this month pop pickers) in which he first teamed up with Michael Lark and this more recent series by Greg Rucka in which the artist is, oh will you look at that, Michael Lark again. Lark as an artist has somehow snuck into my list of favourites without me realising it, it wasn't until I was reading book one of Lazarus that I realised how much I like his gritty and moody art and just how talented he is at coreographing combat, both gun battles and hand-to-hand fighting in ways that feel realistic, yet exciting at the same time. He also draws really good women, which puts him ahead of about 90% of most comicbook artists. That's especially good as Lazarus is a science-fiction story about a virtually immortal warrior woman who suffers a lot of physical trauma in this first collection which in the wrong hands could feel "icky" but in his hands feels as matter-of-fact as Greg Rucka's sparse but full of promise world building of which she is part of.
The story begins with a dispassionate description of the mortal wounds inflicted upon Eve by three scavengers. A voiceover asks her how long she was "out" (ie: dead). "Maybe two minutes" she responds, she also says it hurts, "it's like I'm not in myself when it happens, like I'm outside watching myself through glass".
As she recounts this we see her heal up enough to stand and kill her attackers. Her questioner "James" who is her doctor asks her how it made her feel. Eve doesn't want to talk about it.
Eve: "I killed them James. I killed all three of them. They only wanted something to eat".
James says the family provides food for all citizens, but these scavengers made the mistake of breaking into a "family residence" and they also tried to kill her. Eve is downcast and asks if everyone feels like this when they have to kill someone. James says "no", but he'll give her something to help with the bad feelings and he won't tell the rest of the family about her doubts, "I would never betray your confidence".
|Eve avenges her own death.|
A rival family called Morray launched an assault on the grain facility early that morning. They collapsed the security grid and made for the seed banks but were stopped before they got to them.
There was no system fault so they were shut down not by sabotage or hacking but by someone from the inside betraying the family. They took a Morray alive but she didn't survive the interrogation. Eve thinks Jonah is jumping to conclusions about their being an insider, but he says they have to "set an example".
|Jonah being a dick.|
Eve takes him to one side to execute him. She says she thinks he is lying and doesn't understand why he would throw his life away. He says if she really knew about the value of family she'd understand. She says she'll tell his daughter he loves her. "Trust me.. she already knows" the man says.
Back with James, he is giving her another checkup and dosing her with something to make her less questioning. He asks her again how she feels and looking sad she says "I feel fine."
We then move onto Eve coming out of the shower and her older sister Beth telling her to take her pills as part of her "maintenance" schedule.
Eve: "I hate it when you call it that..makes me feel like a machine."
Beth ignores her and subjects her to a check over, then tells her their father wants her in his study in five minutes for her report.
|Eve given a check up.|
Eve then gives her report on the Moray attack on the seed bank. Losses were substantial but they were repelled. The old man, Samuel Rosales confessed to disabling the security as an agent of Morray, but searching his quarters and belongings revealed no clue as to how he was recruited and how he communicated with Morray.
They discuss the fact they broke off trade with Morray five years ago and they are suffering from poor harvests and difficulty controlling their "waste" population. Jonah wants to know what their reprisals will be, he wants to "go to war."
Their father is silent, then sends them all away bar Eve. He says she doesn't believe Samuel's confession, and she says no she doesn't. He demands to know why she executed him anyway, "did it feel good? Did you like it? Did you want to see him bleed?"
Eve: "I had to! Treason means death. Jonah made me - he was going to execute everyone if the didn't get a confession!"
Her father sighs and calls Jonah foolish. "Five children and only of the is worth a damn". He tells her to come closer, he has some he needs her to do.
|Their father and leader of the family.|
Beth: "Do you know what happens if she learns what she really is? The questions she'll ask?"
Jonah says they can "put her down" if she bugs out at the truth, then Beth and James play "hide the pipette" and make another one. Beth slams him into the counter top and grabs a knife saying she'll flay him. Steve breaks the fight up.
Eve then appears saying she and Jonah will be going back to L.A. which is still partly smashed up from an earthquake. Jonah says no point in fixing up the bits the waste live in. Jonah returns to the house to find Johanna in the bath and cleans his sisters back and gets all too creepy close with his sister.
|Jonah and Johanna plot.|
Eve is taken to a Morray family compound in Mexico. The sergeant leading the soldiers demands she hand her weapons over. She says no. The katana-dude says she is a guest not a prisoner but the sergeant says "the capture of an identified enemy Lazarus is of the highest priority". Eve hands over the gun but not her sword.
|Joachim and the Morray soldiers.|
Back in one of the Carlyle compounds, James monitors Eve's lifesigns and when Jonah demands to know where she is, says that his father told him to keep it secret from Jonah. James then calls the father "Malcolm" and tells him Eve is in Morray territory and that Jonah was asking after her.
Eve and Joachim relax and he gives her some guava. He recalls the last time he saw her, she was fourteen then, five years ago. She says he was the first person like her she has met.
Eve: "I don't want to fight you. I don't want to hurt you."
They share a silent moment, then a helicopter bringing Joachim's uncle Morray, the leader of the family arrives.
|Joachim and Eve bond.|
Eve meets with Morray. She is not there to declare war, she offers a deal. Normalisation of trade, grain and seed shipments to resume immediately. In return Morray will deliver some things called "Tarantula Class Interdictors" also they must cease all communications with Jonah, "whose treachery is known to us, as is your collusion with him".
Morray agrees to the terms, saying Jonah is "dead to him". Joachim is sent to escort Eve back to Carlyle territory. They drive up to the border and Joachim stops. He'd like to share a drink of water and a sunset with her. They relax, but then suddenly a missile hits them full on blowing them up.
Meanwhile, realising Eve is not dead and things could be going pear-shaped fast, Johanna gets Mason to punch her in the face to make it look like Jonah did it. Before she can be beheaded, Eve manages to fight off her attackers. Beth admires how all the injections and modifications to Eve are working, James says "for the love of God Bethany! Someone is trying to kill your sister!"
|Joachim and Eve make a badass team.|
Mason: "Your sister says to tell you that if you start running right now. She'll slow the Lazarus down, long enough to escape".
Alone together, Eve says to Joachim this was not an attack on Morray. She lets him take her bike as his car got blown up as she plans on returning via the helicpoter the soldiers arrived in. She and Joachim wish each other a slightly awkward good bye. She returns to the compound and finds Jonah gone and Johanna badly beaten.
Mason tells her that Jonah has fled and Eve holds a pretending-to-be-upset Johanna about Jonah's betrayal. Eve meets with her father and asks if she should chase after Johann, but Malcolm says "not at present." He congratulates her on delivering the message to Morray and says the family will have great need of her in the coming months though doesn't elaborate further.
Later Eve returns to her quarters an discovers an anonymous email which says, "He is not your father. This is not your family". And on that uncertain note this first volume and story arc ends.