Short Cuts 25: Lazarus Vol. 5 – Cull; Low Vol. 4 – Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes; Silver Volume 3; Zomnibus Vol. 1

Lazarus Vol. 5: Cull
Greg Rucka, writer; Michael Lark, artist; Santi Arcas, colorist
Image Comics, 2017

What a great series this is! Good bit of time since I read the previous collection, but I was quickly reminded of what had happened before: no need to go back and reread. All Sixteen Families are at war, so it’s a world war, and in this story we encounter families (and their Lazari) that we have not seen before. Forever Carlyle was seriously injured in the battle that concluded the previous volume, so the first part of this story centers on the effort to repair her and get her back into action. At the same time, her young clone replacement is being readied in case she is needed. She is beginning to seriously question her role in the family. After long discussion the family decides they should not reveal the truth to her–but Johanna (acting head of the family) disagrees, and works with the young scientist the family had recruited to give Forever her freedom while maintaining the appearance of control. A new Lazarus enters a war zone, and the arc ends in chaos.

Low Vol. 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes
Rick Remender, writer; Greg Tocchini, artist; Dave McCaig, colors
Image Comics, 2017

The main focus in this short four-issue collection is Tajo Caine, who returns to her family home on the dome city of Salus to find a city on the brink of devastation. As her mother had predicted, vital systems are failing: there is no food, no air, no hope. Tajo bands together with IO (a man with an ancient secret), and Mertali, a brave mermaid from the gladiator pits of Poluma. Her nemesis Lena has planted a bomb which will deliver the final death blow to the city. In the end Tajo’s group takes their newly found information about a habitable planet in another galaxy to the city’s rulers–and basically pull of a coup to fly the city up to the surface and off to the stars. The whole time Tajo is debating about her self-image, coming to terms with her role as events unfold. Her final embrace of her self worth parallels the story conclusion, which strikes me as a bit pat–but the whole series has had a family therapy tone all along, so it comes with the territory. The introspection is accompanied by plenty of action, beautifully illustrated by Tocchini, as always.

Silver Volume 3
Stephan Franck
Dark Planet, 2017

I contributed to the Kickstarter campaigns for this collection as well as the previous one, so clearly I’m on board for this creative vampire/pulp/gothic/noir mashup. Our team of crooks is out to rip off Dracula’s secret treasure, and one of them is a Van Helsing descendant. Which sounds like it could be a stylistic mess, but Franck totally makes it work. Flashbacks provide a lot of Sledge’s history: she has clearly had a personal agenda, and this explains why. The heist/con concludes in this installment, and there are surprises right up to the end. Plenty of chances for the enterprise to go off the rails, too, so the tension is almost constant. Looking forward to the series conclusion in Volume 4.

Zomnibus Vol. 1
IDW Publishing, 2009

I bought several IDW omnibus horror collections at HeroesCon a couple of years ago, and the Halloween season seemed a good time to finally dip into them. Got to love the title! The last part of this collection is the prematurely titled “Complete Zombies vs. Robots” which was superseded by another IDW omnibus entirely devoted to the series. So I skipped that for now, and read the two miniseries that precede it.

Zombies!: Feast is a five issue miniseries written by Shane McCarthy and chiefly illustrated by Chris Bolton. It’s a dark story about a bus full of prison inmates who find themselves in a town full of zombies after their bus breaks down on the road. They quickly figure out what is happening, but not before they lose several of their party. And lots of innocent bystanders die as well, often as the result of mistaken “friendly fire.” This is an aspect of the story that is much more realistic than typical zombie tales, where most of the time only the bad guys seem to get hit by gunfire.

Zombies!: Eclipse of the Undead is a four-issue miniseries (written by El Torres, art by Yair Herrera) that shows what a zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles might look like. As usual, the living are nearly as much of a hazard as the dead. The group of survivors that escape from the stadium known as Refugee Camp Number Two are a ragged bunch, including gang members, convicts, and a martial arts expert with a big sword (sound familiar?). There is a brief epilogue set 20 years later that shows how human society might survive–more than a little reminiscent of the premonition scenes in the current Walking Dead TV show.

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