Lazarus Vol. 7: Fracture II
Greg Rucka, writer; Michael Lark, art; Santi Arcas, colors; Simon Bowland, letters
Image Comics, 2022
The previous volume was published in 2020, so apparently, fans will have to be prepared for long gaps between installments. But the good news is that it is easy to reconnect with the story: there is a reasonably detailed “Previously” summary at the beginning of the collection as a reminder, and the main characters are memorable. The first arc here eases the reader in with a group of new characters, Danish fishers who pull an unconscious, nearly frozen Jonah Carlyle out of the water. He becomes part of the family, and is left with a mission of vengeance. It’s all because Lazarus Forever Carlyle disobeyed the order to kill him, which figures into the main arc as well. Forever does follow orders later, and decimates some powerful Families. It is unclear whether the point is to change the balance of power or to promote peace in the world. A Hock/Carlyle meeting reveals deep history about their family relationships. Malcolm Carlyle commands Forever to kill Jacob Hock, but in the end, she is more concerned with keeping her independence (and insuring the same for her young sibling) than her family duties. So, there are major changes in the status quo: in this series that guarantees shifts in the narrative. Lots to look forward to, regardless of how long we have to wait.
Skottie Young, writer; Kyle Strahm, art & designs
Image Comics, 2022
Twig is a fantasy miniseries that combines a mission to save the world with super-cute graphics. The titular character is an adorable little blue-haired critter who became a “Placeling” (a journeyman who takes mysterious magical objects to the Pathsayer, who will send him on a quest to place the object where it is needed) because his father died without an apprentice. There would be no story if a few things didn’t go wrong, but it’s way worse than that. Twig and his sidekick Splat find the Pathsayer dead, so they manipulate his equipment to read the magic gem they brought, which blows it up…so they have a new quest to go on before they can even get to the main quest. Which involves a coming Darkness that will cover all things, so no pressure. The whole story has a manic energy that carries it along, and despite the sense of dread Twig also has an optimism that prevents the situation from ever feeling hopeless. Plus, it’s relentlessly cute, thanks to Strahm’s relentlessly cute art! It’s much like Young’s I Hate Fairyland, minus the endless anger and frustration.
Joe Hill’s Rain
Joe Hill, story; David M. Booher, adaptation; Zoe Thorogood, art; Chris O’Halloran, colors
Image Comics, 2022
This five-issue miniseries was adapted from a novella of the same name in the prose collection Strange Weather (2017). Hill describes the concept as climate change with teeth: a rain in the form of sharp crystal splinters that shreds everything it touches is impossible to ignore. It comes without warning in Boulder, Colorado as Honeysuckle Speck is about to welcome her girlfriend to their new home. She and her mother–as well as most of Honeysuckle’s neighbors, and a substantial percentage of Boulder’s population–die in the first downpour. Honeysuckle decides to travel to Denver to check on her father-in-law, unable to bear the grief of losing him as well. While it would not have been a long trip under normal circumstances, things are far from normal. The rains appear to be spreading, and each downfall is more severe than the last, with larger spikes. Civilization is nearly collapsing, and no one knows how the rains started (though some kind of terrorism is suspected). The Denver mission fails, but in the process, Honeysuckle makes a friend. And after returning home she solves the mystery of the deadly rain, close to home and almost by accident. She and the neighbor boy she had taken under her wing set out to inform the authorities and save the world. Thorogood’s manga-influenced art and minimal backgrounds tell the story effectively, while also providing just enough emotional distance to prevent the tragedy from becoming overwhelming.