Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1 is the beginning of DC’s new event that promises to shake up the power set of a few heroes, introduce some new ones, and bring others out of obscurity for a bit. This issue brings together some of the major players involved, including Supergirl and Power Girl. But, before I go too much into the issue itself, let’s take a look at the cover art.
Heading up the cover for the standard issue is David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez. Cover titled “Change The World”, we see an image of Earth covered in the green hues of a Lazarus Pit. Showcasing a handful of characters relevant to the event gathered in the foreground, this cover hypes the promise of an interesting story. There’s also a foil version of this cover that’s sure to look amazing.
Riccardo Federici’s variant puts the featured heroes in action against some demonic foes. Federici’s art is always so nicely detailed. Adding mood and atmosphere to the image, he has the Lazarus rainstorm mute the otherwise colorful outfits of the gathered heroes.
Playing with the green on black motif of the standard cover, Francesco Mattina’s variant features Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing vanquishing a zombie-like horde. Using only those two colors, Mattina creates a haunting and striking cover that’s simultaneously grotesque and pleasing to the eye.
John Giang’s variant is Cyborg centric. Partially interfacing and partially manually controlling a huge gun armed vehicle, Cyborg commands the entire cover. Giang also uses a limited colour array but still manages a highly detailed cover that reveals its intricate details the longer you gaze upon it.
A.L. Kaplan’s variant is a psychedelic marriage of nature and technology. Using bright splashes of color, Ivy and Cyborg’s powers swirl around each other as if they’re dancing. Another compelling cover that also gets a foil version.
The variant by Mateus Manhanini focuses on the devastating effects of the Lazarus storm. Causing people to spontaneously develop superpowers, Manhanini depicts the panic that would most likely occur if such event really happened. It’s fascinating how the facial expressions of the crowd easily transforms the scene from that of a heroic nature.
Nathan Szerdy gets a little playful with his variant as the newcomer Monkey Prince boops the Devil Nehza’s nose while caught in his clutches. Knowing next to nothing about the new character Monkey Prince, this cover goes far to give us an idea of what to expect from him. Aside from being a fun cover, we discover in the backup story these two have somewhat of a past that’s sure to play an important role later on.
Robin takes center stage in Jorge Corona’s variant. Flying away from the volcano blast that causes the global catastrophe, Damian appears to be his annoyed and concerned self about the matter. Corona does an interesting, bat head take of the Batwing which feels symbolic to the metamorphic tone of the comics event. Although they’re in a different aircraft, this cover pretty much sums up the first few pages of the issue.
Lastly, but definitely not least, is Scott Godlewski’s variant. This cover is probably my favorite as we get a sneak peek into what may happen to some of the heroes. Godlewski appears to use two different art styles to give us the version of what these characters may become reflected under the version we know. It’s truly a great visual and it’s fun to flip the comic upside down to get a different view of the same piece.
Riccardo Federici handles the interior art for the main story with Brad Anderson on colours and Steve Wands as letterer. Federici did fantastic work on his portion of ‘The Warworld Saga’ in Action Comics and it’s a real treat to see his work again this issue. Coupled with Anderson, these two have a way about their art that draws you into the story. Every inch of a page is filled with colour and detail that elevates it to scenes being experienced instead of panels being followed.
The backup story art is done by Billy Tan, colourist Sebastian Chang, and lettered by Janice Chieng. Having a more manga inspired look, this team tells a lot of visual story in just ten pages. Although the styles between Federici and Tan are different, the quality of their work flows well enough with each other, you almost don’t realise you’re reading a backup story.
Mark Waid begins Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1 straight from the last pages of his Batman vs. Robin #4. Not to worry though, he expertly throws in all the exposition you need to know about what happened there throughout this issue to catch you up. Essentially, a Lazarus Pit was filled with nearly all the magic in the world which causes it to erupt like a volcano causing magic infused storms to rain down all over the globe. As Batman was badly injured during his confrontation with The Devil Nehza, he defers to Robin’s plan making capabilities in order to figure out a way to stop the storms from doing irreparable damage.
It’s always fun to see how heroes respond in the face of uncontrollable or unreliable powers. To see them be more than their powersets and rise to the challenge at hand is the measure of a true hero. Waid handles this situation beautifully and masterfully reminds us the level of which he understands these characters. Of course, having both Supergirl and Power Girl working together isn’t a bad treat either.
Gene Luen Yang picks up an important backup story detailing an ancient encounter between Monkey King and a very different Nehza. The story not only gives an origin to the main villain of the event, Nehza’s adopted son King Fire Bull, but also hints at a means to which to defeat him. Yang uses his ten pages well to tell a concise story with just as much depth as we’ve come to expect from his work. There’s comedy, action and more than one moral lesson taught before the end which undoubtably raises the bar for all backup stories from here.
Hot off the heels of Dark Crisis, DC wastes no time diving into another event with high stakes and consequences for the heroes involved. Although appearing to be a smaller scale crisis, only affected Earth, the changes that Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1 teases to bestow on some of the characters could have longer lasting affects to the DCU as we know it.