Review: Lazarus Planet: Alpha

Lazarus Planet: Alpha
Writers: Mark Waid, Gene Luen Yang
Artists: Riccardo Federici, Billy Tan
Color Artists: Brad Anderson, Sebastian Teng
Letterers: Steve Wands, Janice Chiang
Review by Davydh Tidey

*SPOILER WARNING* Read Batman Vs. Robin #4 and the rest of BvR before Lazarus Planet: Alpha… because it’s a bit good. 

Here it is, guys, everything we’ve ever asked for, Lazarus Planet: Alpha. Mark Waid’s back doing what he does best with DC. After Kingdom Come, his landmark tenure on The Flash, and Superman Birthright, it’s not hard to see why Waid is revered as an author. Now, with an event he’s been building since the first issue of Batman/Superman World’s Finest, he’s turning the Earth into the Lazarus Planet with the help of Riccardo Federici, Brad Anderson and Steve Wands. 

For those of you who’ve been keeping up with Batman Vs. Robin, I’m sure there’s only one question on your minds…

Wait, is Damian Good Again?!

Well, no… not quite, but he’s looking to make amends.

Following the events of Batman Vs. Robin #4 (seriously, go read it!), Batman isn’t exactly in fighting form. Damian has to step up and lead a rag-tag group of magic wielders and classic superheroes against the threat (that he largely created) of the Lazarus volcano and King Fire Bull. It won’t be easy, but it’s up to the son of the Bat to fix his mistakes. 

The Fires of Lazarus Volcano

This book is a stunning opener to what promises to be a brilliant, world-spanning event, touching every corner of the DCU with its consequences. Riccardo Federici and Brad Anderson are absolutely bringing it with the art in this issue, sticking to a moody, murky colour palette, setting the tone perfectly. As you read, you can feel the cloud of ash and Lazarus energy falling from the skies around them. It feels like a disaster film on the page, and the oppressive darkness gives a real sense of consequence to the story. 

I’ve said it before, during Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I’ll say it again here, I’m a huge fan of the Supergirl costume redesign. Reminiscent of Jon Kent’s suit during his tenure with the Legion of Superheroes, it’s a great look for her, and I’m glad that Federici and Anderson decided to carry it over. The contrast between her updated suit and Power Girl’s classic look is awesome, and really highlights an element of the DCU that has been talked about a lot recently, and is being especially highlighted in this issue; legacy.  

Family Matters

Speaking of legacy, centering around the conflicted Damian and seeing the story through his eyes was an inspired writing choice by Mark Waid. We read his thought process in the text boxes, see him (much like his father) suppress his fears and insecurities, while also stepping up to lead the team. He’s not quite there yet, as BvR proves, but issues like this reaffirm why Damian will (eventually) be a great Batman, and will do his father proud. 

This issue really plays to Waid’s writing strengths, focusing on a nice balance of character work and action, with no character being side-lined and everyone being given their small spotlight. God, it’s good to have him back. 

Hold On, Backup a Minute!

The backup story for this issue centres around Monkey Prince, or more accurately his father Sun Wukong, accompanied by… the demon Nezha?! Hold on, what’s going on here?! You’ll have to read it to find out! 

Gene Luen Yang’s recent run on the Shang-Chi titles has really impressed me, along with Batman/Superman, and Superman Smashes the Klan, so it was cool to get a backup written by him in this already great issue. Learning more about the Monkey Prince (who’s still a very new character) and Nezha’s pasts was a great bit of context for the Lazarus Planet event, and a bit of humor after a very dour issue never hurts!

The art from Billy Tan and Sebastian Cheng comes as a stark contrast to the main story, using bright colours and solid linework to tell their story. It’s a welcome break from the hard-hitting main Lazarus Planet tale, giving you a moment to breathe between the fast-paced plot and muted artwork. It’s always nice to see a Billy Tan comic in any context, and pairing him with a bright colorist like Cheng and an excellent writer in Yang was a great choice. 

Conclusion

From the moment Mark Waid came back to DC Comics, I’ve been waiting for this. I knew he couldn’t just have come back to write his favourite Silver Age characters (as amazing as Batman/Superman World’s Finest with Dan Mora has been, and their new SHAZAM! title will be), I knew there must be a bigger plan for his comeback, and this book appears to be just that.

This is an event that’s grand in scope, and it lands with an almighty bang, Lazarus Planet: Alpha is here, and nothing will be the same again. Don’t miss this book!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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