"...my armies are our shield against our enemies, against the other families
...but Forever is the tip of my sword...
...and like the finest blade...
...she is beautiful...
...and she is lethal...
...and she is precise..."
— Malcolm Carlyle
It is the future
and the governments of today have ceased to exist. Corporations
have become the new ruling bodies of the world, dividing the planet into different "territories" that are under their direct control and ownership, instituting a new form of feudalism
. The Families are the heads of those corporations; those who provide services for the Families are referred to as Serfs, having been "elevated to Service". Everybody else is Waste, uncared for by those in power, whose only hope for a better future is to be "elevated". Food is scarce, so each Family keeps their seed banks secure, doling out supplies only to those Waste who have properly registered as servants of the Family. To serve as the Family's shield, sword, and bannerman, each family can modify
one individual to be their "Lazarus."
Forever Carlyle is the Lazarus for the Family Carlyle, the Family which controls the area of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Forever performs the dirty work for her siblings and her father, when one night, thieves break in a Family guest residence where she is staying and shoot her multiple times in a desperate search for food. On the same night, commandos from rival Family Morray assault the Carlyle seed bank with the help of someone on the inside, nearly managing to reach the seed vault. In the aftermath, war looms between the two families.
There is something else going on, however. Something deeper. There are schemes and plots and Forever is stuck in the middle.
And she is starting to question her orders completely...Lazarus
is a new comic book series by Greg Rucka
and Michael Lark (who previously worked together on Gotham Central
Tropes included in Lazarus:
- Abusive Parents: Malcom rarely shows any affection to any of his children. Even Forever, who he shows marginally more, is just being treated that way so she stays loyal, and is thought more as a pet than a person by him.
- Action Girl: Forever Carlyle, of course. Bethany Carlyle almost guts Jonah with a kitchen knife before being restrained and reminded that it would be a bad idea.
- Waste Casey Johnson is introduced with a rifle slung across her back. She uses it to great effect an issue later.
- All There in the Manual: The Back Matter gives a complete timeline of events prior to the start of the series.
- Artistic License - Biology: Downplayed Trope by way of Shown Their Work. Rucka is extrapolating possibilities in human modification from things that are beginning to be explored in the real world. When he was stuck on how to go about explaining Forever's healing ability in a realistic way, he emailed Warren Ellis, who turned him onto iPS stem cell research.
- Badass: Lazari, and Forever especially.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Family Carlyle includes Malcolm Carlyle, the father, and his two sons and three daughters. One son and daughter appear to be plotting against him.
- Bio-Augmentation: Based on the real-life technology of induced pluripotent stem cells.
- Break the Cutie: Issue #5 featured a flashback to Forever as a young girl, being forced to fight and defeat a woman at least ten years her senior to be given the family sword. Not surprsingly, she fails, and Malcom coldly reprimands her. The look on her face is heartwrenching.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Jonah and Johannah Carlyle.
- Cool Old Guy: Father Morray is actually a pretty decent guy, all things considered. After settling business with Forever regarding family matters, he good-naturedly invites her over for dinner with him and his Lazarus.
- Crapsack World: If you don't work for one of the Families, you are Waste. How each Family member treats their Waste depends on if they care or not (and Jonah Carlyle really doesn't care). Even if you do work for the Family, you could be killed by a rival Family or accused by your own Family of treason.
- Divided States of America: With the end of government, the USA is no longer a single whole. The western portions of the country belong to the Family Carlyle, while the eastern portions belong to Bittner & Hock.
- Dysfunctional Family: At least the Carlyles. Jonah & Johannah are screwing each other and plotting to take out their father, Malcom treats all the kids dismissively at the least, and even Forever, who was genetically engineered and conditioned to be loyal to the family, is starting to have doubts. When someone who's been indoctrinated since birth for absolute loyalty begins to question things, you know its bad.
- Establishing Character Moment / Establishing Series Moment: The very first page is Forever getting shot multiple times...and then getting up and killing her attackers. This is an expansion of a concept Rucka first used in his run on Wolverine.
- Feudal Future: The societal set-up; the Families own all the land on which their Serfs and Waste live and work, and the only way to improve your lot in life is to be elevated to one of the higher classes.
- Grey and Gray Morality: The Waste are desperate, but the Families (and Forever) are very much on the darker side of grey. The three thieves that Forever kills in the first issue are only searching for something to eat, not valuables.
- Healing Factor: Each Lazarus has one, including Forever. The Back Matter establishes that the doctors can even regrow limbs; however, cutting off the head is pretty much the end. There may be limitations within each families capabilities, as Joaquim Morray has at least a cybernetic arm.
- Older than They Look: The Carlyle children each look comfortably in their twenties or thirties. With the exception of Forever(who is said to be 19) at least Jonah and Stephen are actually in their sixties.
- Mega Corp.: Each Family is the head of one. The Family Carlyle is the head of the Carlyle Future Foundation (CFF).
- Pretentious Latin Motto: Oderint dum metuant. "Let them hate, as long as they fear." Allegedly a favorite saying of Emperor Caligula.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Forever catches a few guards having sex with a young Waste woman(she was supposedly bartering sex for food but really distracting them from a theft her friends were pulling) and she is not happy, threatening to have them and their families "sent down"(expelled from Serf land and rights).
- Ripped from the Headlines: In the Back Matter, Rucka explained that he was trying to stay within the realm of possibility, so he is using real technology that is currently in its infancy, including iPS stem cells. During the writing of the issue, new articles about iPS stem cells were even published.
- Shoot the Dog: In the first issue, Forever is forced to shoot an innocent man because he (falsely) confessed to treason to save the rest of the people at the seed bank. She knew he was lying, too, but had to do it to keep Jonah from killing the rest of them instead.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The reference to a character's birthdate and education in the second issue suggest that the story is set somewhere in the 2050s, or slightly later.