Indie Comics Spotlight: Lazarus, Fathom, Minor Acts of Heroism


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Lazarus #1
“Bullet one: ventral-dorsal traverse, entering eighth interspace on rising trajectory…”

Things aren’t going well for you if that’s the description of an assault you’re suffering. In fact, there’s a very strong likelihood you won’t survive. Unless, of course, you happen to be super wealthy and have the means to revive over and over again. That’s the premise behind Lazarus #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark and colored by Santi Arcas.

Forever is a special woman, in that she’s pretty much immortal. She exists in a future where the wealthy live in very comfortable surroundings, with the rest of humanity forced to contend with food allowances. Dying is nothing new for her, as evidenced by her latest encounter with a group of individuals seeking more than their share of rations. She seeks to go up against just about every facet of establishment presented to her; going along with it but not necessarily agreeing with it.

Rucka’s world isn’t too far off honestly, judging by today’s economic climate. He keeps it interesting by instilling doubt in Eve for her abilities and responsibilities. She’s capable of holding her own against anyone and is tasked with defending the family compound, but doubts are creeping in. Questioning both her station in life and her “job” is offering to take the comic in a rather heady direction. There are also the topics of immortality and whether or not living forever in such a world is really living, which will prove quite intriguing down the road.

Lark’s art is stark and well done. It effectively depicts a shattered world, devoid of past moral codes and focused instead on the desperate mentality pervasive throughout. Forever is illustrated with ability and skill and Lark doesn’t rely on making her overtly sexual. There’s a heavy military focus on display and Lark ensures the reader knows that despite the new rules of the future, the military machine is still well-oiled and efficient.

Reviving repeatedly is something that always seems to play a part in dystopian future settings, but Lazarus #1 does so in a slightly different light. Forever exhibits a creeping doubt about the societal dichotomy and desperately wants to do something. The thing is, she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do, which is what will make watching her tale unfold fascinating.

Lazarus #1 is in stores now.

Fathom: The Elite Saga #1
“Kiani–the darkness has arrived.”

The depths of the ocean are typically devoid of all light. Amidst the intense darkness there is a blue, a blue that breeds warriors and regalness. Against that backdrop is when the events of Fathom: The Elite Saga #1 from Aspen takes place. The issue is written by Vince Hernandez, illustrated by V. Ken Marion, inked by Mark Roslan, colored by Jordi Escuin Llorach, Kyle Ritter and Peter Steigerwald and lettered by Josh Reed.

Anya feels that her newborn child Anika would fare better with some time away from the father Killian. She’s committed to doing whatever it takes, even invoking Kiani. Thing about it is that there seems to be more to Anika than meets the eye (and not in a Transformers way). Meanwhile, Aspen’s brief respite from action is looking to be shortened when she’s called to deal with the Blue.

Hernandez knows the Fathom universe at this point, having written many of the past series. There’s a familiarity there with the characters that’s allowed him to flesh out the universe. Fathom: The Elite Saga #1 is a slight departure in that it introduces a few new characters, breathing new life into the Fathom universe. Kiani and Aspen have been pitched as the cornerstones of it and are truly powerful, but there appears to be something in Anika that could put her on equal footing. Introducing such a character offers a new perspective on familiar territory, poising the series to be something fascinating.

Marion’s art is very detailed. Some of the facial expressions are a little rough, with the characters demonstrating various degrees of emotion. Kiani is illustrated with sufficient foreboding, while Aspen is shown on a rare off day. There’s a good variety of panel layouts, with jagged shapes cutting in and out, insets and some full-pagers that are good looking. There’s a new threat lurking in the depths and the art team does a solid job depicting it.

Fathom: The Elite Saga #1 could be an interesting series. It breathes new life into a known property and pitches someone who can potentially go up against Aspen and Kiani. Where the series goes is anyone’s guess, but considering this is Aspen’s 10th anniversary, there could be really good things in store. If you’re familiar with the Fathom universe, the book is a no-brainer pick-up, but even if you’ve never met Aspen Matthews, now’s a great time to get to know her.

Fathom: The Elite Saga #1 is in stores now.

Minor Acts of Heroism #1
“Simon! Where are your pants?!”

It’s a phrase uttered by countless parents towards their children on more than one occasion. Usually, invoking such a statement indicates mischief on the part of the child, which is exactly what Simon finds himself in throughout the entirety of Minor Acts of Heroism #1. The issue is written and illustrated by by Adriana Ferguson and Kristen Van Pam.

Simon has just met Sergio, nephew of a creepy house’s owner named Julius. Simon’s step-dad Bradley leaves Simon and Sergio alone in the house to “deal with stuff,” prompting the two kids to better explore the creepy confines they find themselves in. Meanwhile, the stuff the adults are dealing with happens to look like one thing but quickly becomes something else entirely. By the end of the issue, everyone has a few secrets revealed and more cards are thrown onto the table.

Ferguson and Van Pam have crafted and enjoyable and well-paced comic about kids. They manage to make a book about superheroes and kids work very well, primarily by effectively showcasing what makes a kid a kid: curiosity. Simon’s no-holds barred attitude towards exploration is counterbalanced very nicely by Sergio’s more reserved nature, creating an interesting dichotomous approach to the creepy house. The adults are dealing with things on a much larger scale and the way the story brings the children and adults on a collision course towards the end makes for a satisfying payoff in the first issue.

Ferguson’s pencils are very much manga inspired. They move with an almost effortless grace that helps the book flow very well; almost as if you’re watching an anime even. Panels aren’t stacked against one another, giving them each a chance to stand on their own and stand out on the pages. Van Pam handles the colors and inks and she does a great job accentuating the pencils. The house is littered with drab tones, underscoring the creep factor.

Superheroes as everyday people is quickly becoming a new staple of the genre and more books are involving kids in those scenarios. Minor Acts of Heroism #1 does so in a way that’s both entertaining and enjoyable, offering up an interesting coming of age story of sorts. Simon and Sergio’s adventure proves to be quite the catalyst for family secrets to be revealed and it will be interesting to see where the creative team goes next with the work.

Minor Acts of Heroism #1 is available now via comiXology.

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