Monday’s Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog

twitter Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog4facebook Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog0google Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog0pinterest Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog0tumblr Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dogreddit Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog0stumbleupon Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog0email Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog

This week’s been a big week for comics! All kinds of goings-on were, well, going-on. I’m narrowing it down to just the two comics, though. The ones everybody’s been talking about. Lazarus #1 from Image, and Hawkeye #11 from Marvel. Both books have fantastic creative teams and all the goodwill in the world pushing them onwards. Were they good?

laz3 Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog

Lazarus #1

Greg Rucka (w), Michael Lark (a, l), Santi Arcas (c)

The long-awaited return of Greg Rucka to comics (even when he’s only gone a few months, his return is long-awaited) comes in the form of Lazarus, a new series with Michael Lark at Image. Immediately settling straight back into old form together, the first issue is a solid read – I just wonder if it’s not a little too familiar.

We’ve got a capable but lied-to hero, who has a practical sense of reasoning and iffy family. She’s isolated by circumstance and personality, and faces a mystery betrayal she has to solve. In most respects, Lazarus is Rucka 101. I feel like I can already tell the different beats which will be playing out over the rest of the issues, and what we can expect next.  Whilst it’s as thoroughly professional and engrossing as you’d expect from the writer, I can’t help but think that this first issue could’ve done with something more surprising.

It’s a relatively straightforward opening issue for a series like this, and is at times surprisingly broad in the way it introduces and uses characters. Some of them feel stock, where they should feel natural. This might actually be due to the lettering, though – Lark letters the issue, and I’m not sure if it wouldn’t have been a stronger issue if he hadn’t. Several pages seem to place emphasis on the wrong parts of the speech, such as a page where a character tells our hero “I would NEVER betray your confidence. I PROMISE you”.

Which… immediately makes the dialogue sound sarcastic, as if the character is reaching out and jabbing you in the head with a finger whilst he tells her his lies. We are made completely aware that he’s not to be trusted – and the main character seems idiotic for not being similarly aware of this blatant villain.

The opening narration, a dialogue between two characters told via caption boxes, doesn’t differentiate the two speakers. Whilst the lettering tells the story, I can’t help but feel it leans too heavily for the reader, and spells things out when they don’t need to be accentuated.

laz1 Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog

I enjoyed the issue thoroughly despite all this. Rucka’s dialogue still comes across as effortlessly natural, whilst Lark and colourist Santi Arcas make sure that this feels like a realistic and normal world, despite the futuristic equipment and life depicted. Things look worn and battered, rather than glossy and sharp. The locations look like they’ve been lived in, which immediately brings the reader into the world of the book. The characters are shadowy and drawn so they don’t give away too much expression – were it not for the lettering, the mysteries of the book would be a lot harder to work out.

The centrepiece of the story is lead character Forever, and she stands out above the rest of the characters immediately. Not just in look and dialogue, but in personality and perspective. She views things differently, and gives us a reason why we should view her as the most important person here. She follows a long line of Rucka heroines, and stands alongside them all nicely. Overall, Lazarus is a decent piece of fiction. It hasn’t blown me away, but it’ll make a nice enough trade once it’s collected.

 

 

laz4 Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog

Hawkeye #11

Matt Fraction (w), David Aja (a), Matt Hollingsworth (c), Chris Eliopoulos (l)

The much-touted ‘Pizza Dog’ issue of the acclaimed series, in which we follow a nagging plot point through the eyes of the Hawkeyes’ pet dog. Cutting out the majority of the dialogue in order to focus on artistic and design-based storytelling, this offers a masterclass in craft from (especially) Chris Eliopoulos and David Aja. The lettering alone is brilliant, but Aja’s storytelling and sequencing is on-point throughout. Everything slows down in order to completely switch the focus from the human characters to this dog, and it gives us a totally different perspective on all the characters, and of the series itself.

This is decompression at an extreme. This level of pace effectively buries the reader into the world and atmosphere of the building in which Pizza Dog lives. We move painstakingly slow, which might annoy some readers – but every ounce of nuance is wrung out onto the page, giving us a real sense of place and location. We’re given the option here to read the comic through at a breakneak pace, or to stop and sniff at all the details and clues laid out by the creative team, just as Pizza Dog does. It’s a well-executed premise for a standalone issue.

laz2 Mondays Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog

The issue does play a little bit on us as readers. By now you need to be invested in the series in order to really enjoy the issue. I came in without knowing the last five or so issues, and parts of this sailed over my head. There are also a few of the pacing issues which have picked into this series from time to time, especially during the climax moment of the story. When we get to a point where nerves are at their tensest, the narrative drops the ball and skips a crucial moment which would’ve provided a catharsis for readers. Instead, the story leads us up to a single incident and immediately wipes it clean and skips the aftermath. The main narrative is then completely forgotten about so we can return to the story from (presumably) last issue.

Minor complaint. One which has been present from the start, though. If anything, the ramshackle approach to pacing is a part of Hawkeye’s charm, and hopefully the creative team are doing it deliberately. It’s a unique, fascinating one-off idea for an issue, and one which Fraction has clearly spent a lot of time thinking through. Every detail is carefully crafted, making this feel like a comic where a lot of work went into it. That makes me like it for any flaws it has – there are too few comics of any kind which feel like they had so much hard graft go into their making

It’s a very inventive comic, which pays off for the reader. I understand that the comic will now be splitting into two tangents, one handled by Aja and the other by Annie Wu. If there’s any book which I think will be able to keep up with that kind of pace, it’s Hawkeye.

Comments

  1. Robert Brawley says:

    Hi guys, a Dark Horse exclusive call-out: you can earn 2 “exclusive” new Dark Horse collector series: CONAN and 2 PAST MIDNIGHT (featuring Dark Horse marquee heroes Ghost, X and Captain Midnight). We just launched the Dynamics ePlate card, a new interactive instant rewards card where you can earn exclusive comics and lithographs (see http://www.dynamicsinc.com/darkhorse) and over 40 other rewards.

  2. Chris Hero says:

    Thank you for not comparing the Hawkeye comic to Chris Ware’s work. I couldn’t handle another of those comparisons especially since the two are nothing alike. It’s nice to see a Marvel/DC book try something new for them, though.

  3. Synsidar says:

    I recently read HAWKEYE #9-#11, to see if I’d missed material that was worthy of all the accolades the series has been receiving. HAWKEYE #11 was great in terms of design, fantastic in terms of style, less than great as a story.

    I wonder whether people who have been praising HAWKEYE #11 with descriptions such as “the best comic ever” compare issues in the series to other superhero comics, to comics generally, or to stories generally. Fraction’s treatment of Barton raises questions of whether his character will actually go anywhere, or if he will be a lovable loser for the duration of the series. Being a 24-year-old or a 30-year-old loser is a problem; being a fifty-year-old loser–Fraction’s treatment of Barton requires a conclusion. No real person is twenty-something or thirty-something forever.

    SRS

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Beat – Monday’s Review Slate: Lazarus and Pizza Dog […]

Speak Your Mind

*