“Try Something New.” That challenge is the whole reason for this feature’s existence. Month in and month out we buy the comics we know and love, the ones we look forward to every time but there are countless series that travel under our radar, ones that we just don’t give a chance and get passed by. That’s why I made a vow: every week I’d pick up an issue for a series that wasn’t on my pull-list in the hopes of finding a hidden gem. Welcome to Off The Shelf where we’ll discover if my leap of faith paid dividends this week. Also, I should mention that there be SPOILERS in this review. You are warned! ________________________________________________________
Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Prior Experience With Title
None, but it is a new property so I’m pretty much in the same boat as everyone else except for the ones that already bought the first and second issues. All I do know is that it’s from the mind of a legendary writer known best for his female characters, Greg Rucka.
Why Did I Give It A Shot?
I was perusing through the recent back issue bin and immediately stopped at this issue in large part due to this fantastic cover you see above. Then I saw the name Rucka and I was sold.
The inside cover lays out this comic’s world explaining how select wealthy Families are the ones in control, those individuals that provide a service to the Family are looked after, and the rest of the populace are simply considered Waste. This first issue starts with a bang, literally, as our main character, Forever Carlyle, is shot and killed. Oh, and then she wakes up which creates a whole mess of intriguing questions. What happens after her “resurrection” is her confronting the three would-be killers/thieves in one brutal and gruesome fight scene that sees her systematically kill them one by one until she alone is standing over their bodies. We then learn that this beginning scene is being related to Forever’s Family doctor/psychiatrist, James. She wonders if it is normal to feel like this, to have remorse for those she’s killed and James rather plainly states that it is not normal but he’ll give her something to help her combat these unwarranted emotions later on. She makes him promise not to tell anyone else about this discussion which he agrees to…only in the next scene to betray that confidentiality and tell her brother who is concerned about Forever exhibiting these emotions. Forever then meets her brother at one of the Family’s compounds and he informs her of the current situation: a rival Family gained access to this facility due to an apparent traitor within their Senior Tech Staff who paved the way for this attempted raid. Forever and her brother round-up all the members of the team and their families and inform them that if no one claims responsibility she has no choice but to kill them all, family members included. Just when it looks like Forever with have to make good on her threat, an old man confesses to the crime. Forever knows that he didn’t do it as does the reader who clues in that he merely said this to save his daughter. However, Forever is oblivious to his reasoning and asks him why he is sacrificing himself. He tells her that he did it for his family just like Forever is doing this act for hers. She tells him that she’ll tell his daughter that he loved her and he simply responds that she already knows which really cuts to the heart of Forever who seemingly doesn’t have this type of loving relationship with her own Family. The main story ends with James asking Forever again about how she feels and she replies that she feels fine but she is clearly far from it. We cap things off with a written piece by Greg Rucka explaining the genesis of this series which acts as a very interesting dive into the creative process.
Narrator: In each Family, there is one person given the best they can offer, training and technology and assets, every scientific advantage. This person is named their Family’s sword and shield, their protector, their LAZARUS. In the Family Carlyle, the Lazarus is called Forever. This is her story.
James: All right, what happened next?
Forever: You know what happened next, James.
James:I want to hear it from you, Eve…I’m asking you what you did, what you felt.
Forever: I don’t like talking about it. I don’t want to talk about it…please, James? Don’t make me talk about it.
James: It’s not a choice, I’m afraid. I have to know…Eve…your family has to know.
Forever: I killed them, James. I killed all three of them…
Old Man: One in the back of the head, I think…quick and painless. or so I hear.
Forever: I’m sorry, it isn’t. I speak from experience.
Forever: I think you’re lying, sir.
Old Man: Does it matter?
Forever: Of course it matters! It matters if you’re innocent! It matters if there’s still a traitor in our House! Why would you throw your life away?
Old Man: You, your bother, your kind, You talk a lot about family. If that word meant anything to you, you’d know the answer already.
Final Verdict: The colouring and the art was fantastic. I can see where this story is going, how Forever wants to rebel against her role as a Lazarus but still feels obligated to protect her Family, a Family that is obviously just using her. I personally didn’t connect with this series’ first issue besides the really cool opening scene which incidentally was the building block for the formation of this entire series, a scene that formed in Rucka’s head many years ago. Unfortunately, despite the mystery behind how she can resurrect herself, it did nothing to convince me to stick around so I’m going to have to Pass On This Series Going Forward.