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Review Brew: Lazarus X+66 #4

Family comes before everything- even friendship.

Published By: Image Comics
Written By: Greg Rucka
Art By: Alitha Martinez, Eric Trautman, Santi Arcas, and Jodi Wynn

The future is not occult, is not a superstorm of advanced technology, is not a post apocalyptic wasteland, is not an extra terrestrial breeding ground; no, no my friends, the future is financial. Such is the elaborate background in which Rucka weaves his latest tale, starring Xolani and Alimah- two Lazarus warriors from rival families. Money has become the height of all human ambition, no lingered mired beneath anything faintly resembling moralistic or religious claims. There are only a handful of remaining Families who have enough wealth to control power, which leaves them desperate for one critical resource.

Information.

It is the lubricant allowing the interlocking mechanism of money and power to flow smoothly. Xolani and Alimah have been tasked by their ruling family members to work together and go collect this information from its militarily guarded location; a gesture of honor, of respect, to the dying wishes of a mutually revered Family ruler from a different clan. Xolani and Alimah work well together, have trained alongside one another in their early years as Lazarus trainees. The only problem in this tenuous camaraderie is that they each have received a secondary command once the information has been collected.

Kill their Lazarus once the mission is complete.

Rucka has a remarkable gift of taking giant globs of information and distilling them down to their essential essence, without sacrificing any of the information. The caption and conversational sequences flow easily from one panel to the next, each carefully chosen word providing an excellent sense of atmosphere. One of the most striking moments in this issue is actually the opening dialogue as we see both Xolani and Alimah receive instructions from their individual Family leaders.

Rather than succumb to the temptation of stretching out the page count by zooming in on each conversation separately and noting each character’s reaction, he takes the high creative road and combines them. In a move that is artfully judicial in its execution, the two conversations take place on the same page, with each panel change picking up where the other had left off. It was quite a remarkable device and serves to pull the reader body and soul into the story.

Dovetailing sweetly with this masterful writing are the colors and scene choices of the engaging artwork. Apropos to theme, there are very few bright colors leaping out of these pages- it is a tale of betrayal and bloodshed afterall. Yet the lack of vibrant illustration does not make the pages any less gripping; the point is to create moments that bring the story to life, without choking the life out of the words.

The illustrative work done here is intensely detailed, capturing the subtle twist of facial expressions. The shades of regret when Xolani and Alimah meet up, knowing what they’ve been tasked to do a the mission’s end, are just human enough to tug at the heartstrings. And yet the double page splash of Xolani fiercely slaughtering a group of security soldiers reminds you just how brutal and lethal he and Alimah truly are. Many of the panels actually forgo any words entirely, letting the images proudly speak on their own.

All in all an exceptionally thrilling chapter in this ongoing miniseries.

5 Microdrones out of 5

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