Written by Greg Rucka & Eric Trautman
Art by Steve Lieber
Cover by Michael Lark
Colours by Santi Arcas
Letters by Jodi Wynne
The world building of "Lazarus" has always been among its most impressive accomplishments. It is a fleshed out and, especially in our current climate, an all too plausible dystopia.
In its pages, the world is eked out into different territories run by wealthy families and this elitist feudal system thrives with the fervent devotion of loyal subordinates.
X+66 is a series of one shots focusing on the stories of side characters and is an admirable exercise in continuing to enrich the Lazarus narrative. Much like the military lifestyle it delves into the story doesn't pull its punches, showing Casey Solomon and her attempts to survive Dagger training and become an asset to the Lazarus Forever Carlyle, the protagonist of the main book.
I've always enjoyed these side adventures that show the world of a fiction from a character on the margins. In showcasing the harsh environment that acts as a crucible to a brutal regime, we touch upon the religious zeal that drives the Dagger philosophy as well as the everyday cruelty that has seeped into the environment at large. Wanting Casey to succeed feels like a most double edged sword. Since graduating from "waste", the lowest caste here, we want something better for the character but this feels like a case of being stuck between Sgt. Rock and a Hard place. An enjoyable, if dense issue, this is a comic that demands knowledge of the book. It would be hard to get invested because shorn of context, the weaker elements take hold. It has a standard military arc torn from Full Metal Jacket or any other countless "in training" tales, with howling commanders, unforgiving missions and a weak payoff invoking some well trod tropes of the genre. The hints at the larger social implications are tantalizing but are shunted to the side for less engaging fare.
As an addendum to a larger narrative it has some merits but on a straight ahead story I would say to steal from the milieu, it has earned some demerits of its own.
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Andre Lima Araujo
Coloring by Chris O’Halloran
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
A captivating introduction to Ales Kot's take on millennial ambivalence and scientific intrigue, Generation Gone, according to the press release, seeks to fuse the grounded super heroics of Unbreakable with the young person angst of Skins. I would say, add in some Cronenbergian body horror and you'll appreciate the deft genre mix Kot is bringing to the table.
Splitting the narrative between three young but prodigiously talented hackers on the hunt for riches and thrills against a mysterious scientist with a theory on how coding can create super heroes GG is a heady read. It is to the book's credit that a long treatise on the potential of the human genome can sit so comfortably beside the interpersonal dynamics of the other characters. Two of the hackers, Elena and Nick are in a relationship and with some economic dialogue, their sad relationship is sketched in all its uncomfortable reality. It is an emotionally abusive and toxic match that adds a real frisson to the book overall and the art by Andre-Lima-Araujo has strong storytelling and appealing designs (with a touch of the much missed Steve Dillon in the design of Nick) and is helped with some gorgeous colouring from Chris O'Halloran that particularly complements the books silent moments.
These wordless sections are very effective in portraying the characters inner lives without the crutch of captions (not used at all) and really gives the reader a chance to get invested before the issues climatic moment.
Much like Lazarus, thematically Generation Gone is timely and a much needed exploration of the forces that drive scientific and personal progress for both terrifying, and one must hope, benevolent ends.