The Subtle Dystopia
I throw around words like 'God Class' and 'Deities' all the time when I talk about writers like Nick Spencer and Scott Snyder, and Greg Rucka SHOULD belong in that category, but he's not. He's in an odd tangental class all of his own, with equal respect from me. It's clear that his roots are deep as a novelist, yet one of his most distinct traits is a mastery of minimalism when it has the most effect. Rucka can tell some of the most intense stories without dialogue. His Punisher run was a work of utmost beauty, and now he's free to let loose completely at Image with Lazarus.
Lazarus is one day going to be the kind of thing people read in schools to talk about economics, sociology, and philosophy. Rucka has created the single most subtle piece of (it feels insulting to say) propaganda against the 1%. You would believe this is a world where the 1% have tightened even more, creating a greater divide with a smaller center, but what I see laid out before me is a full return to a caste system without the true medieval tones that tend to accompany these types of dystopia. The 'Families' are Royalty, without the false pretense of god-given right to rule. These families control everything because they are rich. They just control EVERYTHING. They have a 'knight' who enforces their rule, enforcing respect to the family.
What Lazarus is about, is the people, at this point mostly the one character, Forever. It's fairly clear what her moral journey is going to be, but the storytelling is so damn good, it's equally clear how definitive this is going to be. And while Rucka has done an amazing amount of world building, it's all standing on his traditional subtlety. The return to a caste system is not accompanied by visuals of the era. And futuristic elements are present, but they're not flashy sci-fi high tech. Because Rucka doesn't want this to be about the spectacle, it's about the story. It's about Forever. And Lark's art works perfectly with it.
In Conclusion: 5/5
Image Comics, where do you get off, publishing all the best damn stuff in the industry. And the most unique. Yes, that's sarcasm, or something. Image Comics, don't ever change. And neither should you Greg Rucka. Continue to blow me away with your elegant but gritty storytelling you genius novelist you.