Lazaretto is published by BOOM! Studios. It is written by Clay McLeod Chapman with art by Jey Levang.
Everywhere I see a description for this comic, it says something along the lines of “Lord of the Flies on a college campus and also zombies”. Ummm…yes. Yes. I am absolutely going to read that. Have you read Lord of the Flies? Can you imagine putting zombies on top of that? Obviously, Clay McLeod Chapman and Jey Levang could. And they are about to make you do the same.
It always starts with a cough. Because no one ever thinks anything of a cough. Even though we are taught our ENTIRE lives to cover our mouths when we cough or not to touch/ingest anything that has been coughed on. It’s part of what gives zombie stories some believability. It’s also one of the big “if the zombie apocalypse really happened this is how” theories. But that’s not really important.
We first meet Charles, a freshman at Yersin (Get it? Your sin? That was my impression at least) University. He and his parents, a loving mom and a probably equally loving but ultimately strict father who definitely has a military background, are saying their goodbyes as Charles begins his first year away from home all on his own. In contrast to Charles, we meet Tamara, also a freshman saying goodbye to her father, a kind, church-loving man (they’re conversation implies her mother is deceased). Like Charles, it is her first time living away from home all by herself, however, she is a lot less confident and way more anxious and out of her comfort zone.They each meet their roommates, who are also pretty similar – a pothead and a party-girl. An awkward meeting on the roof they both escaped to (so cute) finally allows our protagonists to exchange names and some more background information.
During this oh-so-pleasant conversation though, we focus on Mary. Mary, who is Tamara’s roommate. Mary, who had a terrible cough. Mary, who is now paler than death, with blood streaming from her eyes and mouth. We see how the disease spreads quickly – partying, sharing drinks, making-out, all that stuff people do on their first night of “freedom” (unless you’re me and you’re really boring and you never really do any of that stuff because why would you leave when you have video games to play?) Anywhoo, this is how it all starts.
Jey Levang really understands how to use overlaying colors. Charles always seems somehow lighter, not like super bright, but bright enough that you can notice. Where Charles has a glow, Tamara has a tint. It’s almost like she’s a slight shade of blue darker than everyone else. She blends. She would be unremarkable if you didn’t know she was important. I feel like these colors alone tell us so much about our characters. That use of overlay also extends to those who are sick being a slight green. It’s subtle, I didn’t even catch it fully until the second time I read it. It’s just really well done. I also love Tamara’s anxiety attack scenes because I totally feel that! She’s just in the middle of a bunch of people yelling or coughing and they’re all staring at her and she has absolutely no idea what to do or where she can run.
One of the cool things that Clay McLeod Chapman did with the zombies was giving them a kind of consciousness. Mary was clearly pretty far gone, but yet she woke up and went to class. She just kept coughing and mumbling about getting to class as she stumbled through the campus. Like even though she was becoming a zombie, the ingrained part of her mind that told her she had to get to class was still somehow active and important. I think that’s a very interesting take on the zombie virus and how it works.
OVERALL SCORE: 9 / 10
I’m on board. I’m ready for this to take off. But I don’t see the Lord of the Flies reference yet. I’m hopeful though. Even if it’s not there (please be there) I still have pretty solid faith that this will be a story worth reading.
Make sure you pick up a copy of Lazaretto #1 from your local comic store!