Greg Rucka and Michael Lark Resurrect Their Class Warfare Epic in Lazarus: Risen

Writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark return to their biting sci-fi saga, Lazarus, with a new number-one issue and quarterly format.

For the past six years, writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark have unspooled a dense sci-fi mythology about malicious, warring families and the servants who protect them. In March, the team will present Lazarus in a new quarterly format with a new number-one issue as Lazarus: Risen. The debut issue will feature a new original short story by Lilah Sturges, back matter courtesy of Eric Trautmann and C. Richard Howe, and a section devoted to the upcoming Green Ronin Modern Age RPG, which offers a Lazarus world setting. More importantly, Risen will escalate the complex, volatile conflicts that the Carlyle family has found itself in, as well as that of their Lazarus—Forever. Rucka discusses his and Lark's decision to pivot to a quarterly release and the explosive friction that will define this new phase of his masterwork.

A sample of this Q&A ran in the March issue of Previews.

What should curious readers catching up know about the Lazarus mythology before jumping into Lazarus: Risen #1?

Greg Rucka: The “Cull” arc brought us to X +66. It’s now X +68—over two years since Johanna and Forever made their deal. Two years of war, and the Carlyle Family is losing. So the deal between Johanna and Forever, whether they trust each other, whether each is doing what they promised the other… that’s the question folks should have going in, and frankly, coming out of Lazarus: Risen #1 as well. Who is to be trusted, and how far?

Things have definitely changed between the end of “Cull” and the start of Risen. This is “war Forever,” battle-hardened after two years of intense fighting. This is Johanna now fully adapted to her role as Head of Family. Malcolm is still present, but his presence is limited, by his own admission. In some ways, Carlyle is more united and loyal to one another than ever before. But, again… who can you trust?

Lazarus: Risen #1 Cover Art

What inspired you to relaunch Lazarus with a new number one and quarterly format?

Rucka: It’s not a decision we made lightly, and for a number of reasons. But if there was a time to do it, that time was now—returning to a regular delivery schedule after such a long hiatus, and doing so in a new format at a very new stage in the story. The break between the end of “Cull” and the start of “Fracture” is a significant one, and it marks a sea-change and acceleration in the narrative.

Add to that the fact that we’re in this new format—64 pages and perfect bound—and it made the decision that much easier. And that goes for our desire to deliver something that’s a little different for our fans, but keeps with the feel and intentions of the book—not just regarding the story of Lazarus, but also our philosophy about what we want to provide our audience. It additionally lets us deliver even more back matter than ever before. We’ve got Lilah Sturges writing an original short story for this issue, new artifacts designed by both Eric Trautmann and C. Richard Howe, and—with the release of the Lazarus world setting for Green Ronin’s Modern Age role-playing game coming out—a section devoted to converting in-story elements for use in the RPG.

Lazarus #28 dove into Jonah Carlyle’s backstory. What characters are you and Michael looking forward to exploring as the epic progresses?

Rucka: Lazarus: Risen #1 finally—finally—gives us a little more insight into Bethany, but what I’m really looking forward to… would be massively spoiler-y. What I can say is that issues one through six are going to dig down to the bone, and we’re going to be getting answers to a lot of the questions that have been floating around since the start, though not necessarily the questions that people think we’re looking to answer. But I’m as excited about the series now as I’ve ever been, maybe even more so, because now we’ve got everything in motion.

Greg Rucka Portrait

Class warfare has been a continuous thread throughout Lazarus. How are those themes evolving in the “Fracture” arc and beyond?

Rucka: In a large part, that’s what the “Fracture” sequence (“Fracture I”, Lazarus: Risen issues one, two, three, and then “Fracture II”, issues four, five, six) is about—we’ll be on both sides of the Family/Waste divide, seeing how the actions of the one have devastating consequences on the other. But one of the evolving threads, I think, is a question of responsibility and obligation—the Lazarus world is one where the social contract as we know it has disintegrated even more than it has in the real world. There’s a genuine question of responsibility at work, and what we know for certain is that the Families feel almost none. They just don’t care. That’s how you can call the majority of your population Waste, right? So at the end of the day, if things are going to change… well, who will step up? Are the people capable of effecting a change for the better going to do so? Or will they continue to serve their own interests alone and no others?

Lazarus: Risen #1 releases on March 20, 2018.

So at the end of the day, if things are going to change… well, who will step up? Are the people capable of effecting a change for the better going to do so? Or will they continue to serve their own interests alone and no others?