Reviewed this week: Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Marcus To’s promising new sci-fi/YA comic Joyride and the first Sourcebook companion volume to Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus.
Joyride #1 (BOOM! Studios)
Publisher’s Description: “In the future, Earth sucks. The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the dumb World Government Alliance watching over them, training children to join the militarized Allied Youth and eliminating all resistance with a giant ray gun. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first and leaps before she looks, and when she gets a strange message from outside the barricades of SafeSky, she jacks a spaceship and punches through the stratosphere with an unlikely crew of teens who are totally not ready for what they’re about to find.”
With the first issue of Joyride, writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin P. Kelly seem intent on channeling certain themes that they previously addressed in their work on the underrated (and frequently misunderstood) Hacktivist, in particular, the use of technology as a means of subversion against a totalitarian power. Lanzing and Kelly have recouched the idea in a science-fiction context suitable for the YA set—the work’s political shading is suitably subtle and the comic’s primary remit is clearly entertainment, not polemics.
Also returning from Hacktivist is illustrator Marcus To, who really impresses in this outing. It has been a genuine pleasure to watch the Toronto-based To grow and develop as an artist over the years. Like many comics artists of his generation, To initially drew from mid- and late-1990s comics art influences (think Joe Madureira or Humberto Ramos) but unlike many of his peers, To continues to hone his visual storytelling ability and expand his visual vocabulary beyond the clichés of action/adventure and superhero comics. Joyride is one of his best works yet—any artist can draw musclebound galoots beating the tar out of each other, but it takes some serious chops to make a conversation visually compelling, as To repeatedly does in this issue.
There isn’t much narrative to discuss thus far as the first issue is focused on laying down the expository groundwork for the adventure to come, but this issue’s elevated level of craft points to Joyride having the potential to become one of the stand-out sci-fi/YA titles of the year.
The Lazarus Sourcebook, Vol. 1: Carlyle (Image Comics)
Publisher’s Description: “Following the revelations of ‘Poison’ and leading into the bloody events of ‘Cull’ with Lazarus #22 in May, a new look at the world of Lazarus: What’s it like to live life under the Carlyle regime? This is where you find out!”
The first volume of The Lazarus Sourcebook, a companion resource for Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s ongoing Lazarus series is just the thing for worldbuilding obsessives. Reminiscent of Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed ID, this issue is dense with detailed text pieces written by Rucka (along with David Brothers, Robert Mackenzie, David Walker, and Eric Trautmann) detailing the geography, history, culture, technology, politics, and significant characters of Lazarus‘ Carlyle Territory. In addition to the text, there are also maps, diagrams, charts, schematics by Eric Trautmann and repurposed panels from the comics featuring art by Michael Lark, Santi Arcas, and Owen Freeman.
The Lazarus Sourcebook is a testament to the thoughtfulness and research that goes into the making of Lazarus, and even those coming into the comic cold with only a marginal familiarity with the Lazarus comic should find this issue an absorbing read (fair warning: the issue contains a number of spoilers for those who are not up to date with the events depicted in the regular Lazarus series).