Lazarus One – Rucka, Lark, Arcas

Ok, I’ll admit it, I may have made the effort to read and ‘blog about this one today, just because it makes my 52nd post of the year… and I wanted to make it up to an average post of once a week. And on the last day of the year, too. But I did read the book so it totally counts. And it’s been sat on my desk for ages.

Anyway.

My strongest impression is that this feels really really short. And I mean that in comparison to other Image graphic novels. Physically, it’s the same size as all of the others, more or less, but they’ve just not managed to pack as much story in as, for instance, Saga. I don’t know if it’s just a pacing issue or if it’s because they’ve made the panels bigger or something… but it feels ridiculously short, and I finished it in no time at all, even with pausing to admire the art and ponder about how short it feels. And of course, this means that I’ve not really had the time to get invested in… well… any of it.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t like it, since I rather did. But I like it in the way one likes the introduction to something, or the blurb – because it promises to be good. So it’s liking on the hope, rather than the actuality. And even though I’ve read the book, or the first volume here, it still doesn’t feel like I’ve got enough to hold on to to make that judgment properly. Particularly, it affects getting invested in any of the characters. They don’t feel fleshed out enough, not even slightly, for me to get a sense of them as people yet. Some writers have the knack of making that happen within a page, but alas, not here, so so little story is really hampering me connecting with anyone. I get the distinct impression that more story would definitely lead me to though, which is nice. Particularly with Forever/Eve, the main characters, who definitely has the potentiality for awesomeness.

Much the same is true of the setting, though at least here there’s something to go on. We appear to be in some sort of post-apocalyptic future with some sort of food issues à la The Windup Girl, where areas are controlled by families and their genetically-engineered supersoldiers. It’s a solid setting. Sure, similar stuff has been done before, but it’s reasonable. And it’s not something I’ve read a graphic novel of, I think? So bonus points for that, too. I think the key bit that could turn out to be interesting (and here again we’re back to there not being enough to go on) is the genetically engineered supersoldier bit. Shockingly, given the name of the series, she can’t die. And I get the impression that there’s going to be some coolness here, if I ever get to the point of reading any sort of exposition on where she comes from.

But that’s the thing. For all that I enjoyed it and think it could well turn into something good, the fact that I got so little out of it is really souring me for reading the sequel if I get my hands on it. Because what if it too is really sparse on story? What if I get stuck reading a series of unsatisfyingly short books, hoping that eventually their conjunction will give me enough of a story to be happy? I definitely shouldn’t avoid the sequels based on that fear, but it does make me a bit cautious. And also… I read the sequels to things because I enjoyed them. And maybe I didn’t enjoy this enough to read the sequel because it was over too quickly.

I’m making a lot of that one thing, but the fact is, it really did spoil everything else. But for the sake of completeness: the dialogue is good and fairly natural, which is pleasing, and the art is slightly brutal in a way that works well for a (presumably) post-apocalyptic setting… with the scrappiness and focus on dimmer colours that really bring it out. The characters seem well-designed visually, though there are a couple I struggled to tell apart. The melodrama definitely isn’t overdone, even while they’re hinting at a dramatic backstory and secret in the creation of Forever (the Lazarus), which is sometimes difficult to do. None of it’s stunning, but it’s all pretty competent.

Basically, it’s waiting for enough to be there to wow me. I don’t think I’d buy the sequel, but if someone wanted to lend it to me, I’d definitely read it. What’s there is definitely good… it could just have done with having more there.

And that’s me done for 2016, on an average of one post a week. I’m pretty pleased with that.

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About readerofelse

A student of a redundant, useless and thoroughly interesting subject and reader of many books, particularly fantasy, science fiction and plenty else besides.
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