Lazarus #2 With Rucka and Lark: Arrested Development, But In the Future and Not Funny

With the release of the third issue today, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's Lazarus will also bring a [...]

Lazarus #2

With the release of the third issue today, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's Lazarus will also bring a second printing of #2; last month's issue sold out at the Diamond Comics Distributor level and had to go back for a second print. But, of course, you can buy it on comiXology here, which you should do anyway before you read the commentary that follows. You can also buy this week's #3, continuing the cliffhanger #2 leaves off on, here. And while we generally try to run our commentary tracks as close to the release as possible, this one was delayed in recording and so it seemed a better idea to wait until today, to help bring a little visibility to the second printing and to the release of #3, in stores now. You can read our conversation with Rucka and Lark about the decision to make the book through Image here, and a "commentary track"-style interview that focuses on the sold-out first issue of the series here. One thing that struck me early on is that it seems to me we see a bit more of the family's technology this issue than we did in #1. Michael Lark: It's the kind of thing that you're just going to keep seeing more of as the story goes on. A lot of people have said that it feels very real world but yeah, we're going to see little bits and bobs of technology. I mean, these people do live in the future and especially the families they do have slightly advanced technology and stuff--you know, little holograms here and there. We'll be seeing more of that as the series progresses. It's just part of making it look liek the future, really.


Greg Rucka: Trying to project what the aesthetic is going to be without it turning into a broad, sci-fi sort of design was something that we've discussed and we wrestled with. One of the things that wealth does is that it provides continuity. There is certainly elements of even a retro styling. The other thing is that technology gets integrated into one's life. It doesn't announce itself, it just becomes commonplace. those people that have it, they have it. The device that Bethany is using, her data pad, clearly can do all of these things and interact with this incredible network that Carlyle has but she takes it for granted. At least with Carlyle, we're not interested in portraying technology as "Ooooh, magic!" There are other families that have put more time and effort into certain technologies and should we see them it would be more evident with them. We're also at Malcolm's and Abigail's home. This is the Center--this is where Malcolm lives and does everythign so it is in the style to which he is accustomed. Malcolm, if you look at the timeline, you know he has to be at least in his sixties, if not older--and without spoiling anything, he's older. So his home is going to be those things that give him comfort and that design, that sense of architecture is definitely part of it. Lark: We talked about, when we were creating these places, different approaches and one of the things that Greg used as an example was Bill Gates's house. It looks very traditional if you've ever seen pictures of it. Or I won't say "very traditional"--it looks contemporary but they've got the whole thing wired tight and there's all kinds of technology going on in that house that you just don't see if you look at pictures of it and we wanted that approach. This is somebody's home. My house that I live in was built in the 1930s and it still looks like it was built in the 1930s but I've got cell phones and computers and stuff like that in it. We wanted it to have that approach--things are not going to change that much. It's not going to look like Star Wars or something. It's going to look like it looks now. Houses have looked the same for I don't even know how long. On a more character note, you have Bethany, who seems a lot more complex than some of her other family members. You still get the evasion of interacting with Forever in any kind of meaningful way. Their father, of course, does engage with her but for everybody else it seems very problematic and that they're making a conscious effort not to. Rucka: As the series progresses, more is going to be revealed. One of the things that will become evident is that there's a huge age difference between Forever and her siblings. The difference between her age and Jonah's is about thirty years and Bethany is the second eldest. Bethany also has her own ballywick. As Jonah says later in the issue, "You and James get to play Hide the Pipette," and the implication is that Bethany is in some way--and as yet unrevealed the extent--responsible for Forever's well-being. And you get that in the first sequence--she talks about what she's talked to James about, she is clearly monitoring, she's clearly giving her the drugs and injections to maintain her. Beth is--I have notes on all the siblings and let's just say that Beth is an interesting case.

lazarus-2-b She's also--and maybe this goes back to your comment last month about Greg Rucka and his wonderful women--not what you'd expect from the female scientist in most stories. She kicks Jonah's ass pretty easily here. Rucka: Oh, yeah. She has no patience for her little brother and what Jonah is threatening is really problematic. It's unspoken and it's becoming more evident in this issue that she's their sister but she's not their sister. Some of them have more of a problem with it than other, i.e. Jonah but in the Prelude story, Malcolm makes it clear that one of the way he controls Forever is with his approval. So you should view every interaction Malcolm has with Forever as suspect because he's always working two agendas. And it is worth noting he seems to show legitimate affection to Forever. He doesn't show any affection to his other children in the sequence. If you look at the scene, he doesn't have a kind word for any of his other kids. He's got criticism. The only person outside of Forever who comes out of that conversation without being criticized or otherwise indicted by their dad is Bethany. One thing that sticks out at me with Malcolm is that if you kill the guy who confesses to being a traitor when you know he's lying, that does leave the issue that there's still a traitor out there... Rucka: Yes. That never occurred to Jonah, although Forever verbalized it. It's not verbalized here, but clearly to me this is something where Malcolm has already figured that out. This scene is a good indicator of something that plays at both of his agendas, no? It humanizes him and allows him to look better with Forever, but what he's communicating is at least partially true that he wouldn't have done it this way. Rucka: No, he knows that Forever was manipulated and he knows that Jonah did it so the obvious question is why did Jonah do it. Malcolm's conclusions, I don't think are that hard to discern. Jonah's not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. Johanna's the brains of the operation.


Lark: AH! You're not supposed to say that yet. Rucka: Well, I think it becomes evident in #3. I don't think that gives anything away, I really don't. Lark: It's fairly evident in the bathtub scene, I guess, but still. This issue really made me feel like Jonah was GOB Bluth. Somebody who is supremely confident in his abilities, but he still manages to screw up everything, get beat up by a girl and the only person he can take it out on is the help. Lark: I totally see Jonah as GOB. That's so funny. I think the last time we talked that I think our book is Arrested Development in the future, but not funny. [Laughs] Shifting gears to something that's very issue-specific: Is it safe to say that people now call Hollywood The Hood? Rucka: [Laughs] I'm not sure what the Waste call Hollywood, you know? It's where they live. I was worried it was a little too much on the nose, actually. You mention the bathtub sequence, and certainly it implies that she's the brains of the operation. Then again, reading it through the first time I felt like I could very well be wrong. Like, I make an intuitive leap and then immediately doubt myself. Rucka: I've never felt that I was terribly good at writing a mystery to begin with. I think there are narrative and dramatic questions that are presented and as we've said, they get answered ideally as we move along and more questions are posed. But it's the first time that we've seen Jo and you get a hell of a lot of who she is in just this scene alone, I think, nevermind her relationship with her twin brother.

lazarus-2-d One of the things that strikes me about your work, Michael, is that you work with a lot of shadow and negative space. That certainly is something that depending on the sequence you don't get as much of in this book, I feel. Are you out of your comfort zone a little? Lark: Yeah, you know--you work with what you've got. At least so far we're out in broad daylight. I'm sure that eventually Greg is going to give me some stuff to draw that's at night and we'll have more shadows. Some of it also is that the more black you have on the page, the less detail taht you can see and we're trying to build this world and communicate a lot of stuff. It's a matter of a feel. I think that my artwork works better when I'm working with black shapes rather than line. I doni't know why; it just always feels more comfortable an looks better to me when it's done but at the same time the story comes first and so if I have to use lines to tell everything then I'm going to do it. I think this thing with the note is one of my favorite devices that you see every so often. Is this about the subtlest way you'll get in this book of informing someone that they're in trouble? Rucka: it might be Forever's subtlest way of explaining that you're making a huge mistake and you need to stop making it now before it becomes a terminal mistake. We see more of Mason, too. There's a story actually and I don't know if we'll ever actually tell it but Mason's story will be an interesting one to do at some point. He got lifted, you know? He's not Waste. His life's pretty good--except he's caught between these...he's got some problems with his bosses, let's just say. Obviously, the last page is one of these story beats where you go, "There's like five different ways to read this situation in the context of the book." I mean, you've got to assume that she's not going to be able to take out the whole huge group at the beginning of the next issue. Rucka: If people are expecting #3 to open with a Forever throwdown with all these guards, they're going to be disappointed. Is there a distinctive action beat? Oh, yes. That Joaquin Moray, and the presence of a sword on him should indicate--hmm! Who else carries a sword? So--he is the Moray Lazarus. He stands in front of those men knowing full well that they're going to do everything that he says. He doesn't acknowledge them; he speaks straight to her and that line is written to have a double meaning. Is he calling her by name or not? In issue three, you get to see what an interaction between two Lazari of different families is like but she is there for a specific reason and it would be counter-productive for Malcolm to send her down and say, "Right, now kill them all." I'm very fond of the interactions in #3, honestly, and Michael's pages are just everything I could have hoped. I'm genuinely delighted to share it. This first arc is called "Family," and it is primarily about the political interactions between families and in particular the Carlyle family. The second arc is going to focus on a different aspect of the world so one of the things you're seeing and one of the things you're going to see in three is how two families interact in this world.