Lazarus is proving to be one of the best graphic novel titles of the year as it goes from strength to strength in Volume 2: Lift. The artwork is edgy and gritty, the story layered, nuanced. Author and Illustrator balance mystery, intrigue, and an extremely well defined dystopian world expertly, slowly providing answers while creating even more questions. The characters feel real and I ended up caring for even the side characters and their stories/struggles.
In Volume 2: Lift, a text message to Forever telling her she is not a Carlyle and her father is not related to her, has her questioning. Flashbacks tell us more about how she was raised and how she came to be the Carlyle family Lazarus. Meanwhile, a family of farmers allotted a plot of Carlyle land to farm are left destitute when a flood destroys their life. In desperation, and to prevent a life of indentured servitude to pay for the repairs, they relinquish the crop share and head to the Lift – a scouting event that ‘lifts’ people in the wastes to lucrative jobs for the Carlyle family. The Barret family will travel 500 miles, through deadly conditions, for a chance that their children are chosen. Unbeknownst to them, a rebel is planning a bombing at the event and Forever is close on his heels. The barrets’ and Forever’s paths are about to cross.
The flashbacks, though unsurprising, did give us more insight into Forever. Through most of this second compilation (up to comic 9), Forever is tracking down terrorists who are systematically raiding Caryle supplies in order to make a weapon of destruction. But throughout, we have Forever questioning herself and her place in the family. It’s very subtly done, without unnecessary angst or overwrought scenes, and is all the more powerful because of it. Forever is a controlled character and remains so throughout.
The Barret family (grown son, daughter, and neighbor’s daughter) are an interesting addition to the story. They were carefully plotted to come through loss and death to arrive at the Denver “Lift” at the same time as Forever. Paths cross finally at the end in a story arc that packs an interesting punch.
There really is so much to really like about this series. Lazarus 1 was a surprise last year, a title that I had not read but that greatly impressed me. Intelligent, visual, grounded, and riveting. Volume 2 continues with those strengths and builds on the story even more. I am greatly looking forward to Volume 3!
Reviewed from an ARC.