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Story Time Mike Oliveri Reviews by
Mike Oliveri
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by D'Israeli
Published by Image Comics

Weird. Odd. Bizarre.

Such are the adjectives that come to mind when I think of Warren Ellis's (MINISTRY OF SPACE, TRANSMETROPOLITAN) work. The guy has one of the most fucked-up imaginations I've ever seen. Maybe that's why I love his work so much... Lazarus Churchyard, a 400 hundred year old plasborg (his body's made up of intelligent, malleable plastic - think the T1000 in TERMINATOR 2, only plastic - rendering him immortal and indestructible) that merely wants to die, is one of the strangest individual characters Ellis has created. And his roots stretch back almost to 1990. Lazarus is essentially the predecessor to Ellis's CITY OF SILENCE and TRANSMETROPOLITAN.

Chronologically, Lazarus was there first. He was the engine Ellis used to begin the exploration of the strange, dystopian/cyberpunk world forming in his mind. He first appeared in serial form in BLAST!, a weekly comic in the United Kingdom. LAZARUS CHURCHYARD: THE FINAL CUT collects several of those story arcs, notably those illustrated by D'Israeli (BATMAN, SANDMAN), into a sort of definitive collection. It is not the full collection, but it is the collection Ellis felt best to present to the world in this graphic novel.

The book is composed of six short stories spread across 118 pages, followed by a gallery of artwork. The stories are not dependent on one another, but they often lead into one another in a long, loose arc. And throughout, we follow Lazarus as he: agrees to kill a woman trapped in virtual reality in exchange for a procedure that will finally end his life; owns and gives up a bar; runs into a woman with a penchant for dead men; meets a sentient book complete with tentacles and a toothy maw; gets turned into a woman; defends himself against a sadistic killer from a family that has vowed revenge against him for over 400 years; and, finally, survives a nuclear blast. That's just the overall plot! There are characters with laminated skulls for faces, characters who speak dead languages and have screens of static for faces, fungal narcotic food that'll kill a normal man, massive swarms of mechanical butterflies that control the weather, and more. That's just in the first five pages! You still haven't seen the mutated children genetically engineered to piss heroine! D'Israeli's artwork serves to bring it all to life. D'Israeli did the ink work on CITY OF SILENCE, over Gary Erskine's pencils (see review), but it didn't do him justice. Here he displays a very simplistic style that is very well plotted out and efficiently draws the reader in to the story. His sense of pace reads almost as smoothly as a movie.

This book is definitely worth the $15.00 price tag, though the white cover gets marked up easily. Got a smudge and two scratches on mine, and I'm normally very careful with my comics and books. Ah well, c'est la vie.

LAZARUS CHURCHYARD: THE FINAL CUT gets four rabid fanboys.

Review copyright 2001 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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