Lazarus: The Many Reincarnations

   The difference between an amateur and an Olympic athlete is often a fraction of a second.

   The difference between an amateur and a master cartoonist is often just as small.

   As proof, Lazarus: The Many Reincarnations is a new comic book series by an exciting new talent who just barely misses the mark. If such awards existed, Zak Hennessey would be a strong contender for Most Promising Newcomer of the Year.

   Lazarus is an epic adventure set firmly in the storytelling tradition of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and cartoonist Jeff Smith's Bone.

   The Lords of the Dead rise up to overthrow the human warriors of earth. In a last ditch attempt to escape annihilation, a dead champion is literally resurrected as muscle, skin and blood clothe the skeleton of Lazarus, the reluctant but last hope of mankind.

   That isn't wildly original, but does offer some nice concepts. So, the fault lies not in the plot of Lazarus. It lies in the telling.

   Zak Henley's prose occasion-ally reads like an outline.

   "Everywhere she runs, there are more [monsters]. Their undead fingers tear at her. Yet she manages to elude them. She breaks through some trees and suddenly sees hope!"

   Just as unsettling, Hennessey's dialog occasionally sounds stilted and melodramatic.

   But, for comic fans who wrongly value art above all else, it is its art that is most troublesome.

   It is flat.

   Although the artist's visual storytelling is clear, his pacing crisp, and his characters well staged, the width of his line never seems to vary. That weakens the illusion of depth, perspective and movement, and the ability of readers to suspended disbelief and live inside the story.

   Then the difference between this artist and a master cartoonist is the width of a line?

   That and a polish and personal viewpoint that will come with time, practice and life experience.

   Review by Michael Vance

   Lazarus: The Many Reincarnations #1 is priced at $2.95 and is 21 pages. It is printed by Lodestone Publishing and is sold in comic shops, by mail, and on the internet.