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Lazaretto #1 Review

Comic Books

Lazaretto #1 Review

Most teens moved into college this past weekend, so what better time for a comic about just such a topic?

If you attended college or are attending it now you know the uncomfortable feeling of being all on your own for the first time ever. Gone are your parents and now it’s time to be responsible for yourself. It’s already hard enough, but what happens when a terrible outbreak erupts on your first days? This series aims to show us.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

After a pandemic strikes, a dorm complex at a small American college is quarantined with all of the students trapped within. What first starts out as youthful freedom from authority soon devolves into a violent new society–it’s Lord of the Flies on a college campus.

Why does this matter?

Aside from this series being well timed with colleges starting up this week it’s also quite unique. It’s a realistic depiction of various college kids with different personalities and then sticking them in a terrible situation. Oh, and in case you are curious, the title is a word that means a quarantine station for maritime travelers. Given all college kids are travelers in some form it’s a good title.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Lazaretto #1 Review
Not a very loving father.

Clay McLeod Chapman opens the issue introducing readers to the cast of characters, including the two main protagonists. One comes from a religious family and they pray after she’s all moved in. The other has a tough-as-nails father who drops them him off outside the dorm. Both are nervous and unsure about this transition in life. I’m sure we can all relate to these characters, whether we’ve gone to college or not. The supporting characters range from potheads who are clearly on the road to burnout city or those who want to party. The only difference between this and your own college experience is some folks are coughing due to a strange flu. Enter the weirdness.

Chapman introduces this flu slowly but assuredly, like a good horror movie. You know it’s coming, but you’re at the stage where you’re simply paying attention to the details until the other shoe drops. Given how lazy, irresponsible, and immature freshmen college kids are it’s no wonder a terrible flu takes hold of the school. Chapman writes this in such a way that’s believable.

Artist Jey Levang takes it one step further and makes it gross. Gross in a good way mind you, with blood dripping off lips and coughs getting into hacking, “get that guy away from me” territory. The style is unique with a thin line that looks like pencil. Levang draws some interesting layouts here with one page showcasing a flu carrier as if she’s a zombie, with horizontal panels drawing your eye down the page and circular panels over top those here and there to show the college kids who can’t believe how sick she is.

Lazaretto #1 Review
The anxiety college kids face is captured well.

It can’t be perfect can it?

While the setup of characters and flu is good I’m not quite sure about how this issue ends and where it’s going. Instead of seeking help, our main characters run from it. Chapman gives us no explanation as to why they don’t trust this help and it’s unclear how the main character’s choice makes them safer. The stakes are obviously high due to the flu, but where this series is going or what could possibly come next is a big question mark. Simply put, you may not be excited to keep reading because there’s no real reason given to be.

Is It Good?

A good intro to the characters and premise, but it’s cloudy as far as outlook. If you’re in college you’ll relate, but where is this story going?

Lazaretto #1 Review
Lazaretto #1
Is it good?
Good intro of characters doesn't make this a must read by any means as there's no work done to tell the reader where it's going or what it's really even about.
Sets up the main characters well
Captures the fear and anxiety of going to college straight out of high school
The flu looks really gross!
The issue ends with an unclear cliffhanger that's confusing and hard to gauge where it's going or why we should care

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