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Forever Carlyle.
" 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

Lazarus is an ongoing (2013-present) creator-owned Image Comics series by writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark (who previously worked together on Gotham Central); colorist Santiago "Santi" Arcas is given third billing and writer/graphic designer Eric Trautmann handles layouts, weapon/technology design, and collation of the series' lore.

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, cared little for by those in power, with their only hope for a better future to be "Lifted". 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, and Canada west of Hudson Bay. Forever performs the dirty work for her siblings and her father, when one night, thieves break into 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...

The book is currently published in a 64-page quarterly format, with each of these being roughly equivalent to three normal issues. In January 2018, Rucka responded to a fan question by saying that the series has a "definite" ending planned, and in a June 2020 fan chat, clarified this under the new schedule to probably "13 issues, or four, five more years".

Also in 2018, Green Ronin published an RPG based on the setting for their Modern Age system called World of Lazarus; the new quarterly comic issues are each scheduled to have several pages of supplemental content for the system.

Tropes included in Lazarus:

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     Tropes A-M 

  • Abusive Parents: Malcom rarely shows any affection to any of his children. Even Forever, to whom he shows marginally more, is just being treated that way so she stays loyal, and is thought of more as a useful tool than a person by him. Her appearance in Risen #3 shows that Abigail can be just as cold; when Malcom brings up the possibility of her consoling a very upset Bethany, she ignores the suggestion.
    Malcom: I have two sons and three daughters, and only one of them is worth a damn...the one I had built.
  • Action Girl: Forever Carlyle, of course, along with Eight. Bethany Carlyle almost guts her brother Jonah with a kitchen knife before being restrained and reminded that it would be a bad idea. Waste farmgirl Casey Solomon is introduced with a rifle slung across her back. She uses it to great effect an issue later, eventually becoming a squad leader in the Carlyle military, and later a member of the special forces "Dagger" teams. Then of course there's other Lazari seen in combat, like Sonja Bittner and Alimah Meyers-Qasami.
  • All There in the Manual: The early issues had extensive Back Matter which gives information about events prior to the start of the series, from a timeline to the history of many Families. There are also Carlyle, Hock and Vassalovka "sourcebooks" which go into far more depth about things in each territory, and several more have been teased.
  • Apocalypse How: It began with the worlds financial systems breaking down, allowing super-large corporations to swoop in and take control. Then politics began to go to hell in a handbasket (including a second, shorter American Civil War), then Jakob Hock attempted to take out the Carlyle part of the U.S. by releasing a super-flu that only his region had the vaccine to. Unfortunately, once it was in the wild, the virus mutated, rendering the vaccine all but useless and killing billions of people across the world.
  • 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.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Family Carlyle includes Malcom Carlyle, the father, and his two sons and three daughters. When the series began, one son and daughter were plotting against him, though the son is for now out of the picture and the daughter running things, but still plotting against Malcom, just in a different way. Also, when the Family matriarch finally makes her appearance, she coldly tells her husband that she's waiting for him to die.
  • Bio-Augmentation: How Forever's abilities are explained, based on the real-life technology of induced pluripotent stem cells. Among others, she has a rapid healing factor that lets her recover from three fatal gunshots to the chest within two minutes (and on another occasion, she pretty much just walks off a single shot to the back), the potential to regrow severed limbs (though this is slow), and the ability to see in infrared. However, this comes with a price, and Forever is also...
  • Blessed with Suck: Except for decapitation or complete destruction of her body (i.e. an explosion), Forever's regenerative abilities mean that she can heal from any wound. But she still feels every injury and the recovery as her bones and tissue regrow. Furthermore, while she does have a Healing Factor, she doesn't have a mending factor, and new limbs attached could easily grow back at bad angles in the process of healing unless she is fast enough.Risen #2 has another, darker example of this with Eight: Bethany's harsher training regimen and emotionally distant attitude has exacted such an emotional toll that she sneaks into the woods in the middle of the night and tries to kill herself. Being a Lazarus, it doesn't take.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Jonah and Johanna Carlyle. Rucka has gone on record as regretting this plot, and it's largely been allowed to fade into the background.
  • Bullet Time: Forever's reflexes, perceptions, and reaction time are so fast that several sequences have demonstrated ordinary humans pose absolutely no threat to her in close combat. Truth be told, she's more than a match for most other Lazari, as well; the only one who's posed a serious threat to her thus far was The Zmey.
  • The Chessmaster: Very little seems to surprise Malcom, he reacts to most news as if he has ice water for blood. The closest he's come to showing any reaction to something going wrong are when he's contemplating what Jonah has done by fleeing Carlyle territory, and then musing why Jakob went to Bittner instead of Vassalovka after capturing Jonah. Even after being told of his impending death, he stays calm and comforts Bethany (who delivered the news).
  • Clone Angst: Forever Mark VII gets hit with this after finding out there's another, younger version of her (Forever Mark VIII) being trained. Johanna sets her straight by telling her that while yes, they are the same genetically, they still are different people due to inherent and unreproducable differences in their everyday lives shaping their personalities.
  • Continuity Nod: In the "Lift" arc, Forever captures a member of a terrorist cell that plans to detonate a bomb at said Lift (a selection function that elevates Waste to Serfs). Her sister Johanna helps with the interrogation, pointing out that the girl is only nineteen and quite attractive, as well as dangling the carrot of having her family helped as well. On the final page of the last issue (roughly a week and a half later), the girl is seen in full pop-star mode on a TV screen, promoting her debut song "Compromises" from an album titled "Lifted Up."
  • Cool Old Guy: Edgar Morray seems like 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. The issue of X+66 which focuses on Morray shows his true nature, though; brother has killed brother for generations (Edgar killed his own, Joacquim's father), and the rest of the Family is constantly infighting with regards to pretty much everything.
  • Cool Sword: In keeping with the possibility that they would have to fight each other (and that the only really fatal injury is decapitation), most of the Lazari are shown to carry one (or at least an edged weapon of some sort).
    • Forever's original blade was a custom-made, long-handled shortsword with serrations near the guard. She's since upgraded to a longer weapon that looks more like a katana but keeps the long handle and serrations.
    • Joacquim Morray originally used what looked like a more or less standard katana, then began carrying twin sabers with thinner blades that are also skeletonized (have small pieces of the metal removed to decrease the weight) along the back, shaped thick at the tip and hilt, but thinner in the middle.
    • Sonja Bittner carries a cross-guard two-handed longsword.
    • Zeferino Cardoso uses a short sword that looks something like a two-handed machete.
    • Thomas Huston uses a bastard sword (hand-and-a-half length hilt longsword).
    • Alimah Meyers-Qasami dual-wields scimitars.
    • Cristoff Mueller was shown carrying a one-handed saber as part of his formal uniform at the Family Conclave, though he uses a zweihander (a German greatsword similar to a Scottish claymore) in actual battle.
    • Xolani Nkosi uses a spear.
    • The Zmey (the Vassalovka Lazarus) uses both a flail and a hand axe.
  • 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, though it later becomes apparent that he's a saint compared to Jakob Hock). Even if you do work for the Family, you could be killed by a rival Family or accused by your own Family of treason and summarily executed.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In Issue #26, Forever, Sonja, Joacquim and Thomas join forces to try to take out The Zmey (Vassalovka's Lazarus). Despite being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, The Zmey still manages to hold off and injure both Forever and Sonja, and kills Thomas. Joacquim turns on them halfway through the fight and nearly kills Forever before she realizes what's going on and says Screw This, Sonja And I Are Outta Here.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: In Issue #26, Joacquim's systems are overridden by his Family and he is forced to turn on Forever, Sonja and Thomas.
  • Deadpan Snarker: On the rare occasions Eve makes a joke, she tends to be this.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Forever as the series has progressed.
  • Designer Babies: Forever is one, as Malcom had her genetically engineered to be the perfect Lazarus. The Carlyle Sourcebook confirms that there have been multiple Forevers over the past twenty-some years, with the Forever in the series being the seventh one. Johanna tells her in Issue #25 that the first few were 'proof of concept' that just proved the technology worked, and that Eve herself (Mark VII) is the first one who's actually been 'active' as a Lazarus.
  • Divided States of America: With the end of government, the USA is no longer a single whole. West of the Mississppi (along with part of Canada, from the western shore of Hudson Bay) belongs to Carlyle, while everything from the east bank of the Mississippi to the Atlantic belongs to Hock, with Bittner controlling the correlating area in Canada.
  • Drunk with Power:
    • X +66 #3 showed that Casey's grandfather Dennis has become this. As the only other member of her family, he was Lifted when she was and is now in charge of a Carlyle vineyard. Unfortunately, he treats his Waste workers quite poorly, much to the visiting Barrett's disappointment.
    • Risen #5 has a brief example with Brian Morray, who murders his father, mother, and cousin in an attempt to install himself as head of Morray and make a new alliance with Carlyle. Unfortunately for him, Forever just used him to do the killing because she wanted Edgar to suffer for what he did to Joacquim, and having his own child kill him did that nicely. Brian doesn't live very long after he's fulfilled this purpose.
  • Dumb Muscle: Played with. In combat, The Zmey only speaks in very slow, basic sentences, but he's clearly intelligent enough to understand what's being said and respond to it, even taunting his opponents. X+66 #6 has him speaking quite normally when telling his origins, implying his manner of speech in combat is a deliberate affectation for intimidation or Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Dysfunctional Family:
    • The Carlyles. Jonah & Johanna are screwing each other and plotting to take out their father, Malcom treats all the kids dismissively at best, Abigail has been in seclusion for years and seems to have the maternal instincts of a panda bear, 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.
    • Morray has a tradition of falling into brutal conflicts between different wings of the family as they compete to be the head of the Family and have control. While any survivors from losing branches are welcomed back into the fold, (for example, both Joacquim Morray and his brother Alejandro were taken in by their uncle Edgar after Edgar triumphed over and killed their father in one of these conflicts) they are monitored every hour of every day, and the slightest sign of disloyalty could result in them being purged.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Played with; the special operations warfighters called the Daggers are the descendants of the US Marine Corps Force Recon group (they even wear Marine Corps-style dress blues as their formal uniforms) and are under the direct authority of Forever herself as unit commander. They're certainly 'the best of the best', with the most advanced equipment and training Carlyle can provide. However, they're still a group of people from disparate backgrounds who have been molded into professional killers, with all the mental stress and strain one would expect from soldiers in the middle of a long war (particularly Dagger Alpha, who are Forever's top squad and are deployed with her most often). They also have a Latin unit motto: "Gelidus In Aeternum"; "Forever Cold".
  • Establishing Character Moment: The very first page is Forever getting shot multiple times...then getting up and killing her attackers. This is an expansion of a concept Rucka first used in his run on Wolverine.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rucka often points out that there are no true heroes in the series, and has more than once brought up that the world is in its current state largely due to Malcolm's actions. That being said, Malcolm does come across as a better option than someone like Hock, in that Carlyle territory operates on at least the illusion of basic meritocracy, thus giving some hope of betterment to lower-class citizens. Carlyle also only practices "passive" censorship, in that they don't actively suppress information, but do selectively edit and subtly promote things which fall in line with their approach. And while most of humanity is once again living in a Serf society, Malcolm has absolutely no tolerance for actual slavery; in fact, he has devoted what some of his advisors consider excessive resources to breaking up Waste slavery rings, instead of taking the more economical approach of looking the other way.
    Rucka: Carlyle is honest in its abuse. You know where you stand. Sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious background, etc, all have no bearing on whether or not you are an asset and add value to Carlyle. The concept of "wasting a resource" because someone is a bigoted fuck is intolerable to him. Of the few good things one can argue he has actually done, he has tried to maintain a culture that simply does not tolerate racism. He actually gets angry about it. He just has no time for it. None.
  • Exact Words: At one point, Malcom tells an eleven year old Forever Mark VIII, though he presumably did something similar with VII to defeat her combat instructor in a swordfight. He shows up to supervise their final duel but raises the stakes by having them fight with live steel blades instead of wooden training swords. Forever manages to injure and down the older woman, but stops fighting at that point. When Malcom asks why she held back, Forever points out that his instructions were to defeat the woman, not kill her. Malcom congratulates her for obeying his orders and rewards her with the Carlyle family sword.
  • Extreme Speculative Stratification: Most of the human race are dismissed as "Waste". Hock takes this even farther and calls them "non-persons".
  • Faction Motto: Each of the sixteen Families has one, reflecting their views on the philosophy underlying their rule.
    • Armitage: Noli Irritare Leones (Do not provoke the lions)
    • Bittner: Par Loi et Droi (By Law and Right)
    • Carlyle: Oderint Dum Metuant (Let them hate, so long as they fear)
    • Carragher: Aut Vincere Aut Mori (Either To Conquer or To Die)
    • D'Souza: Qual en Seu Officio (Everyone to his trade)
    • Hock: Take Your Medicine
    • Inamura: Ame Futte Chi Katamaru (After the Rain, the Earth Hardens)
    • Li: Man proposes, God disposes
    • Martins: Poverty is Slavery
    • Meyers-Qasami: Zero for Zero
    • Minetta: Kara Ya Maro (Do or Die)
    • Morray: Non Sufficit Orbis (The world is not enough)
    • Nkosi: Arte et Marte (By skill and valor)
    • Rausling: Diligentia Ditat (Industry Renders Rich)
    • Soleri: Nello Stile Antico (In the ancient style)
    • Vassalovka: Wait and See/Time Will Tell
  • Face–Heel Turn: Joacquim in Issue #26, complete with stabbing Forever In the Back and trying to decapitate her. Come to find out, Morray made a backroom deal with Hock/Vassalovka.
  • Famed In-Story: Inverted with Marisol, Forever's combat instructor. She was one of the "Pendleton Five", a fireteam of Marines who attempted to save a group of refugees from Army soldiers during the second Civil War. They were overwhelmed and killed, with their sacrifice becoming a huge propaganda coup for the Carlyle side. It was initially a matter of record only four of the five died, but once Carlyle realized the story of the Five played better, that's what ended up in the history books. Marisol being the survivor is only known to a few people.
  • 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.
  • Friendly Enemy: While the families may not like each other, most of the Lazarai seem to get on with each other regardless of alliance. In the "Conclave" arc, Forever, Xolani Nkosi, and Sonja Bittner have a friendly sparring match despite Bittner being in conflict with both Carlyle and Nkosi, while Alimah Meyers-Qasami openly fangirls when meeting Forever. All the Lazari then attend a more-or-less friendly all-night poker game with only a little trouble (one Lazarus insulting another, then backing down), and Forever and Sonja genuinely like each other. After Bittner allies with Carlyle, Sonja also befriends the younger Forever Mark VIII, treating her like a little sister and getting into a snowball fight with her.
  • Giant Mook: The Zmey. He's easily over 7 feet tall and so thickly muscled that he looks like he bench-presses Volvo's for exercise, but he's also incredibly quick, able to take on three other Lazari at once without much difficulty.
  • Going Cold Turkey: This happens to Sonja when Bittner switches allegiance from Hock to Carlyle in Issue #15. Hock's drugs were the source of much of her Lazarus abilities, and she suffers a long period of violent withdrawal symptoms without them, though she appears mostly recovered by Issue #18 (three months later).
  • 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. And there are also shades of grey in how each Family handles things; some of Carlyle territory has been shown to be pretty bleak, but Issue #10 shows that Hock operates like a even darker version of 1984. Forever goes full-on charcoal grey in Risen #5 when she manipulates Brian Morray into murdering most of his family, only to then kill him moments later.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Jakob gives Malcom a blistering one in Risen #7.
    Jakob: We were going to change the world for the better, remember? Tell me, Malcom...Is it? Is it better? Did we succeed? Half the global population culled, people reduced to slavery in fact if not in name. Institutional knowledge gone, whole cultures annihilated, governments reduced to rubble. Did. We. Succeed?
  • Healing Factor: Each Lazarus has one, including Forever. The Back Matter establishes that the doctors can even regrow limbs if they have to (though Issue #25 shows that Forever has extra 'parts' in storage because this is so slow); however, cutting off the head is pretty much the end. There are differences within each family, however. Forever's abilities are from Carlyle's advanced genetic modifications (with some drugs mixed in to keep her in top condition), while Joacquim's are derived from Morray's cybernetics expertise and Sonja's from a Hock pharmaceutical regimen (since Bittner and Hock are allied). After Bittner breaks with Hock, Bethany and James begin to restore Sonja's abilities with genetic modification instead of drugs.
  • He Knows Too Much: Johanna and Malcom's views of Michael Barrett and Sonja Bittner, respectively. Despite Michael being the one who devised a cure for Malcom's poisoning and his being touted as a genius by Bethany, Johanna orders him to be kept from working with Forever Mark VII until he's given a more in-depth security vetting. Malcom is uncomfortable with Sonja knowing about Forever Mark VIII, and advises Johanna to have her killed before she lets anything slip to someone (like Eve) who doesn't know. Johanna gets around both of these, first by changing her mind about Michael and recruiting him to get Eve off her conditioning regimen, second by simply ignoring the suggestion to kill Sonja.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Malcom's counter to Jakob's Risen #7 Hannibal Lecture.
    Malcom: It's funny. We're here, talking about what we remember. Talking about Leah and love and it was yesterday and not the better part of a century ago...and yet none of you seems to remember what it was like. So permit me to remind you. It was the end of the world. Authoritarian regimes spreading unchecked, plutocracy instead of democracy, Vox Populi not simply silenced but gagged. That was why there could never be revolution, you see? It wasn't that the wealthy had all the guns and all the governments and all the technology and all the law. They owned the communication. They owned the information. But instead of using their power for others, instead of — at the least — covering their asses like Carnegie and Rockefeller had done, they just took more and more and more...and because they owned the communication they were applauded and emulated and worshipped for it. The bastards told us they owned our future and fuck the rest of us, told us we couldn't do a damn thing about it. Climate and world on the brink of collapse, and every check or balance castrated or destroyed or bought. Not an extinction event, not the end of a species, not the end of civilization but of life. Guiding us toward absolute annihilation. That was the world, and nobody who could stop it would, and those who would could not. Forcing us to stand witness as everything, everyone we knew and loved was sacrificed on the altar of their greed. They could never have been overthrown. So they had to be undermined. I had a plan. I did what the plan required.
  • Intimate Healing: A female fisherman in #27 strips down to her underwear and gets under a stack of blankets with Jonah to warm him up after her family's boat pulls him out of the North Atlantic.
  • Jerkass: Oh, where to begin? The biggest ones so far, however, are Jonah Carlyle and Jakob Hock. Jonah's jealousy and lust for power drive him to try and kill Forever; when this doesn't work, he flees to Hock territory. Jakob is a power-mad despot who has ground the people in his domain down with drugs and endless propaganda, and is seemingly motivated solely by his personal hatred of Malcom. Jonah at least gets better after Forever saves his life instead of assassinating him, but Hock remains bad and gets worse.
  • The Juggernaut: Issue #26 establishes The Zmey as this, even to the point of noting that Vassalovka doesn't so much deploy him as unleash him. A direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade only slows him down for a few moments, and even while impaled by Thomas' sword, he's able to incapacitate Sonja effortlessly.
  • Killed Off for Real: For such a Crapsack World series, significant deaths are few and far between, the better to illustrate the high stakes.
    • Rausling Lazarus Cristoff Mueller is killed by Sonja in Issue #22.
    • Luka & Christina Rausling are killed by Joacquim & Sonja in Issue #24.
    • Armitage Lazarus Thomas Huston is killed by The Zmey in Issue #26.
    • D'Souza Lazarus Zeferino Cardoso and Morray Lazarus Joacquim Morray are killed by Forever in Risen #2.
    • All the members of the D'Souza and Morray families are killed by Forever and the Daggers in Risen #5.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: According to Issue #16, Sister Bernard notes this with regards to the Bittner, Morray, and Carlyle families compared to Hock. Case in point, whereas the former three refer to non-serfs as "Waste", such a status is still of some use, as "waste can be recycled", and they are counted in census notations. On the other hand, anyone who is not a citizen in Hock territory is an Un-person, and he even went so far as to cause "Hock's Flu" to lower their population, with deaths in other territories seeming to have been incidental at worst.
  • Longevity Treatment: The genetic modification called Longevity, used by the members of the Carlyle family and a handful of their closest non-Family allies. It's extremely effective, as evidenced by Malcom Carlyle, who looks to be around 50 but is actually 110.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Malcom orders Johanna to drug Eve back into compliance, he says to "do whatever you must" to keep her loyal. Johanna, whose attitude to Eve is already softening, chooses to interpret this in such a way as to ensure Eve's loyalty to her.
  • Love Across Battlelines: Inverted, since Carlyle and Morray are allies. In the first story arc, Forever and Joacquim are friendly but slightly awkward around each other, spend a good deal of time together and even watch a slightly romantic sunset before Jonah's attempt on Forever's life causes all hell to break loose. In the "Conclave" arc, Joacquim (in a tuxedo) and Forever (in a very flattering gown) do a bit of ballroom dancing, with both looking like they're quite enjoying themselves. They finally kiss in Issue #13, but the events that follow the Conclave prevented them from taking their romance further. Joacquim was forced to turn on Forever against his will in Issue #26, and she acquiesced to his wish for her to kill him in Risen #2
  • Loyalty Mission: Johanna sends Sonja on one in Issue #22, partly to get her out of the way while she tries to decide how to handle Sonja knowing about Forever Mark VIII. Crosses over with It's Personal, since while Sonja is in command of a team of Carlyle soldiers, their purpose is to reclaim her family's home from occupation by Rausling forces.
  • Mama Bear: Sevara Bittner is just as ruthless as any of the male heads of the Families (this isn't a scenario where weakness is tolerated), but when Sonja is defeated in the duel against Forever, her facade cracks and she asks Malcom to show mercy. Since he's been trying to sway Sevara to his side anyway, he orders Forever to stand down.
  • Mega-Corp: Each Family is the head of one. The Family Carlyle is the head of the Carlyle Future Foundation (CFF).
  • Misblamed: Cady Rosales has focused her anger over her father's death solely on Forever, even though she knows for a fact that the only other option would have been the execution of dozens of people. In Risen #4, Michael finds out that she's been actively trying to sabotage his work freeing Forever of her conditioning, hoping that something would go wrong and get her killed.
  • Mundane Wish: After they graduate training, each class of newly-minted Daggers camp out in the desert overnight and are visited by Forever. To bolster loyalty, she offers them each one request from her personally. Some of the ones revealed include an drinking contest (Forever wins), a date (no details other than it happened), and a one-on-one swordfighting training session (until the Dagger is exhausted, Forever of course isn't even breathing hard). Casey asks Forever's assistance in killing the men who murdered Leigh.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: To a certain extent, this is how some of the Lazari view their role as "champions."
    Sir Thomas: We may not all of us be friends, but we're all we've got. We're Lazari, and that makes us different from everyone else in ways they will never understand. We know our loyalties, same as we know the purpose we serve to our respective families. We may all be set to killing each other before this is over. We'll all do as we're ordered Doesn't mean we'll have to like it.

     Tropes N-Z 
  • Neutral in Name Only: When having to negotiate with the Bittner-Hock faction about where to have peace talks take place, Malcolm Carlyle instructs his "daughter" Forever to go through a long list of possible factions to host the talks. Each of these suggestions will be disqualified for one reason or another. Furthermore, Forever is instructed at the very end to reluctantly suggest the Armitage Family, who are supposedly neutral to both sides but is in fact in a secret alliance with the Carlyles. When peace talks fail and open war breaks out afterward, Armitage openly joins the Carlyles and spearheads their operations in Europe.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Forever was genetically engineered, so this gives Rucka great latitude in 'upgrading' her throughout the story. Lampshaded in Issue #11 when James tells Forever that they are considering activating some of her latent genetic enhancements, which will further her resistances to cold, heat, radiation and toxins.
  • Obviously Evil: Jonah Carlyle's hatred and cruel behavior is so obvious that when he attempts to have Forever assassinated, everyone immediately knows he's the one who did it. This makes him an easy scapegoat for the other collaborator.
  • Older Than They Look: The Carlyle children each look comfortably in their twenties or thirties. With the exception of Forever Mark VII (who is said to be 23 or 24 as of Risen), Bethany, Jonah, and Johanna are in their sixties, while Stephen is in his early-to-mid 70's. Lampshaded by Jakob Hock, who says when he sees Jonah in the present that he hasn't aged a day in 40 years. Marisol, Forever's former combat trainer, is in her late 70's but looks no older than her late 30's, with James presumably around the same age (since according to the timeline he's been working on Longevity and Lazarus since Malcom began the programs sixty-plus years earlier). The new record holder for this is Abigail Carlyle, who finally shows up in Risen #3: she's roughly the same chronological age as Malcom (110 or so) but doesn't look any older than her 30's.
  • Precision F-Strike: Eve in Risen #7.
    Eve: Father...go fuck yourself.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: As noted above, several of the Families have one (others use their native language). Carlyle's is "Oderint dum metuant"; "Let them hate, so long as they fear." Allegedly a favorite saying of Emperor Caligula, though scholars are divided on whether he coined the phrase or was just quoting someone.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Forever gets shot in the back of the head in Issue #18, and even though its with an assault rifle, the exit wound is barely larger than the entry wound.
  • 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).
  • Really Gets Around: Xolani Nkosi flirts quite openly with Sonja Bittner (despite their families being enemies), and later hits on Alimah Meyers-Qasami, but also implies that he's been intimate with Zeferino Cardoso.
  • Real Name as an Alias: In Issue #27, Jonah is rescued by a family of Danish fishermen. He almost tells them his name, but instead shortens it to "Jonah Kar".
  • Regretful Traitor: Joacquim in Issue #26, when his Family overrides his cybernetics. He begs Forever to run, and even tries to commit suicide to stop himself. It doesn't work.
  • Remote Vitals Monitoring: Forever's bionic implants include ones that allow her support team to monitor her biosigns and remote control them to provide drug treatments.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In some early 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 first issues, new articles about iPS stem cells were even published.
  • Rising Conflict: The series began with Carlyle and Morray pretty much one step away from open warfare, and Forever beginning to have her first doubts about herself and her role in the Family. Both of those have long since fallen by the wayside, with Carlyle and Morray more allied than ever before as they wage a war against some of the other Families, and with Forever having realized how much she's being used and acting almost openly hostile to her sister Johanna. Issue #26 reveals that Morray has broken with Carlyle and allied with Hock/Vassalovka.
  • Ship Tease: James and Bethany openly flirt with each other in Issue #4, and later take to the dance floor after Forever and Joacquim. They're firmly established as having once been a couple (and still being friends with benefits) in Risen #1.
  • 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.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Forever qualifies, as she's very attractive and rather tall (around 6'2"). In Issue #23, she's shown to be half a head taller than the fairly tall Johanna. Risen #1 shows that Eight, at fourteen years old, is already taller than the adult Bethany.
  • Super-Reflexes: Forever's are advanced to the point that when confronting a Morray soldier, she is able to draw her sword, cut off the man's hand, and then sheathe her sword all in the space of about half a second.
  • Super-Soldier: Forever, who is much stronger, far more difficult to disable, and is exponentially faster than an average woman of her age and build. Even when critically injured by an explosion in Issue #21, she's still able to injure two of the people trying to restrain her before being sedated.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Jakob Hock really isn't a very pleasant man, and he doesn't have a Lazarus himself, so when he challenges Malcom's charges of industrial espionage with a trial by combat, it's down to his allies to step up. Cristoff Mueller (Rausling) and Zeferino Cardoso (D'Souza) do immediately, but Sonja Bittner hesitates due to her budding friendship with Forever. Jakob proceeds to ignore Mueller and Cardoso to choose Sonja, then lets Sevara know that he was aware she'd been secretly negotiating switching allegiance to Carlyle.
  • Tempting Fate: Given a darkly humorous take in Risen #7 when Abigail forces Malcom to tell the truth about ordering Eve to kill Jonah.
    Abigail: Did you make Forever murder her brother? Just say it. I mean, I could hardly loathe you more than I do now.
    Malcom: Yes.
    Abigail: Well...turns out I could, at that.
  • Time Skip: Risen, the first arc of the series quarterly format, begins two years after the events of Issue #26.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jonah flees Carlyle territory in the hopes of winning favor by giving Jakob Hock information about his family. Even after he's repeatedly beaten and then imprisoned, he fails to realize that all Jakob really wants is information on his altered genetic structure. And not by asking questions about nucleotide sequences, either.
  • Training from Hell: There have been several scenes showing an eleven year old girl who is Forever Mark VIII taking part in full-contact martial arts and sword training with an adult woman, who doesn't hold back just because she's fighting a kid. X+66 shows the Daggers also go through this; it's basically SEAL training on steroids.
  • Trial by Combat: When Malcom accuses Jakob Hock of industrial espionage (pretty much the most serious crime in this world), Hock demands judgement by this method, Lazarus vs. Lazarus.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Any reference to current or near-current events in the Back Matter glosses over exactly when the timeline for the series starts, referring to events crucial to the story as "Year X minus number" or "Year X plus number" of years. The comic itself begins in Year X +65, later jumping to X +66 and X +68.
  • Undying Loyalty: Seargent Orioso's attitude to Forever. Their familiarity suggests he's been working for her quite a while. This loyalty pays off big-time when Forever promotes him from Seargent to Captain, jumping him ten ranks up just on her authority. Casey also shows signs of this.
  • Universe Compendium: The extremely detailed "Sourcebook" issues on individual Families.
  • Up Through the Ranks: Forever promotes Sergeant Orioso to Captain for his loyal service. Casey Solomon gets promoted from Lance Corporal to full Corporal when her squad leader is killed in Issue #17. As of Risen #1, she's been made a Sergeant.
  • We Can Rule Together: Johanna makes this offer to Forever in Issue #25 after telling her the truth about her origins. She's gotten a taste of power since becoming the temporary head of the Family, and also thinks that Malcom's ways are somewhat outmoded. But she knows that she would need Forever on her side to have any hope of success.
  • Wham Issue:
    • Issue #15 features Hock openly declaring war on Carlyle and their allies, and Jakob has poisoned Malcom, leading to his incapacitation while war begins.
    • The end of Issue #21 had an even bigger one. Another young Forever is training under Marisol at the Sequoia compound, and the Carlyle Sourcebook issue confirms that James and Bethany are continually creating new versions of Forever which have their most cutting-edge genetic modifications (while using the one still active as a test subject for the modifications viability). This is partly because they haven't been able to solve genetic problems that would be caused by Rapid Aging, but also because Forever's training is so extensive that Neural Implanting wouldn't work either, so each new Forever has to age and be instructed at a normal rate.
    • Issue 24: Johanna decides to go against her family's decisions and shows Forever exactly what is going on with the Forever Lazarus Program.
    • Issue 26: Johanna recruits Michael Barrett to help Forever medically, Morray has broken with Carlyle and joined forces with Hock/Vassalovka, and Sir Thomas is killed.
    • X +66 #5: Armitage has a new Sir Thomas (not quite true neural implanting, rather a system which archives the prior's memories and experiences so that a successor can access them), and Seré Cooper has figured out Jonah is still alive.
    • Risen #1: The Longevity sequence in Malcom's body is breaking down; Eight is being abused by Bethany's rigorous medical tests.
    • Risen #2: Forever kills Zeferino and Joacquim, Abigail is revealed to be living in seclusion at The Center, Eight has become suicidal, Forever and Dagger Alpha are preparing to face The Zmey.
    • Risen #3: Abigail Carlyle makes her first appearance in the series, James has begun to suspect that Eve isn't under Family control, and after months of delaying, Johanna finally allows Eve and Eight to meet.
    • Risen #6: Eve and her mother Abigail meet for the first time ever. To clarify, Eve is twenty-four years old at this point.
    • Risen #7: Quite possibly the biggest one in the series to date: It's revealed that Jakob's sister Leah didn't kill herself, Malcom murdered her after hooking up with Abigail. Malcom learns (painfully) that Eve has been freed of her conditioning; Eve crashes a plane into the Sequoia compound to fake Malcom and Johanna's deaths, then meets up with Eight and Marisol to destroy the Lazarus lab; Beth and James are both seemingly killed; Eve sends Abigail to safety with Hock; Malcom and Johanna are missing.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After twenty-plus issues, Cady Rosales returns in Issue #26 to assist Michael.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Johanna is getting pretty good at this. While her initial play to become Head of Carlyle involved hedging her bets to the point that she was ready to sell Forever to the highest bidder in exchange for sanctuary, she's since become a talented player of the game, willing to shift plans with little advance notice, usually as a way to reinforce her own position.
  • Year X: The year that the world's mega-corporations met and divided the planet amongst themselves via the Macau Accords. Implied to be a point in the near future or recent past, it's used as a reference date for the events of the series. The book began in X+64, and as of Risen, is taking place in X+68.

    Tropes specific to Risen 
  • Badass Boast: Forever in Risen #2.
    Forever: Did you forget who Carlyle is? Did you forget what we're capable of? Two little boys, trying to be a Lazarus...I am the Lazarus.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Johanna does this to Malcom in Risen #6 when he upbraids her for not keeping him in the loop about sending Eve to treat with Hock.
    Johanna: You can't keep doing this to me, either I'm head of the Family or I'm not! Which is it?
  • Cold Sniper: Casey takes up this role in Risen #4 when she kills the two survivors of the group who murdered Leigh, her best friend.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Marta Morray invokes this in Risen #5 as a way to persuade Forever to kill her; her forebears have killed each other for generations, and she wants it to end.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Attempted, at least by Eight in Risen #2. Marisol finds her in the woods outside the Sequoia compound, having impaled herself with her sword. Unfortunately for her all this does is spill blood.
    • Averted by Marta Morray in Risen #5. After setting her family up to killed (because of their treatment of Joacquim, her cousin) she asks Forever to kill her because suicide is a mortal sin in Catholicism. Forever obliges.
  • Dying as Yourself: During Forever & Joacquim's fight in Risen #2, his cybernetics are damaged to the point that Morray loses contact with him. This means they also lose control of him, and he begs Forever to kill him. She obliges.
  • Flashback: Risen #4 takes place during the timeskip between issue 28 of the old numbering and Risen #1, only catching up to the current story in the final pages.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Two in one issue (Risen #2).
    • Forever gets speared with a length of rebar by Joacquim. As he dives in for the kill, however, she orients herself to hit him with the other end, then pulls the rebar from her own chest and takes him out with it.
    • Eight, broken down emotionally and mentally by her harsh training, attempts to commit suicide by running herself through with her own sword.
  • Important Haircut: As of Risen #1, Forever has pared her previous mid-back length hair down to a crew cut. By Risen #4, Casey no longer has her iconic ponytail and seems to be growing out a pixie cut.
  • Invisible Parents: Abigail Carlyle, wife of Malcom and mother of their children, was only ever mentioned by others, her appearances limited to a few photographs which seemingly showed a remarkable resemblence between herself and Bethany. She shows up in the flesh for the first time in Risen #3, looking both incredibly young (maybe her 30's) and a lot more like Forever than either of her other daughters.
  • Moment Killer: In Risen #6, Eve interrupts a Hock church service by walking right into it. Needless to say, seeing the woman they've been indoctrinated to believe is Satan incarnate showing up out of the blue brings the proceedings to a screeching halt.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Malcom finally admits this in Risen #6.
    Malcom: I am not omniscient, despite rumors to the contrary! I am not all-seeing and all-knowing! I calculate odds, I discern patterns, I read the table and I place my bet, and I am gifted enough in my readings that I win more often than I lose.
  • Offhand Backhand: Forever pulls this off, with her sword, against a Morray mook in Risen #5.
  • Papa Wolf: The prose story in Risen #4 shows that Jonah has become this after his adoptive family, including his wife, were killed by a Hock bioweapon. He is discovered by Bittner and while being transferred into their custody, begins to fear what will happen to his son Jens. This is enough motivation for him to kill the men transporting them and go on the run.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Malcom and Jakob really don't like each other, and aren't immune to mutual sniping even in the middle of negotiations to end the war.
    Malcom: We're here, Jakob. Spring your trap and let's be done with it.
    Jakob: And you accuse me of being overly dramatic. If this is a trap, Malcom, you laid it, not me.
  • So Proud of You: The previously ice-cold Abigail is actually moved to tears when she learns Forever has thrown off her conditioning and become her own person.
  • Survivor Guilt: Risen #4 makes it clear that Casey blames herself for Leigh's death, since Leigh had left the tent where she, Michael, and Casey were sleeping so that Michael and Casey could have some romantic time alone.
  • Troll: Jakob taunts Eve in Risen #6 by saying neither she nor Abigail look (or looked) good with shorter hair.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jakob taunts Malcom with this in Risen #6 before finally revealing why he hates Malcom: he blames Malcom for his sister Leah's suicide.
  • Wham Line: Between Eve and Abigail in Risen #6.
    Eve: Why do we look so much alike?
    Abigail: Because you're made of me.