Review – Lazaretto #4 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artist: Jey Levang
Release Date: 20th December 2017

Things in Pascal South are on a rapid downward spiral as we reach the penultimate issue of Clay McLeod Chapman and Jey Levang’s Lazaretto, on sale this week from BOOM! Studios.  Charlie and Tamara are still doing their best to survive as the aggressive “Canine Flu” virus continues to wreak havoc throughout the quarantined student population, prompting an increasingly violent and tribalistic social system to take over.  Everyone seems to be infected now, albeit to varying degrees, with little hope on the horizon and Henry ruling the entire dorm from the relative safety of the fourth floor like some sadistic King

One thing that sadly can’t be ignored is the fact that our two leads are gradually becoming less and less interesting – save for one brief exchange while the pair are hiding out from a bloodthirsty mob of students – with Chapman’s writing focusing far more on the other depraved students and the virus itself here.   It’s an enjoyable enough approach, but as things somehow manage to get exponentially worse throughout the course of this issue, I can’t help but think that the creators are perhaps leaning a little too heavily into the gross-out body horror – which is a sentence I honestly never thought I’d write.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an enjoyable read (if “enjoyable” is the right word), but the series is gradually becoming more of a schlock horror spectacle at the expense of the reader actually having any strong emotional investment in the lead characters.  Not a bad thing in itself, but definitely a little different from the way I initially thought this series was going to play out.

One thing that has been consistent throughout is Jey Levang’s artwork, which continues to terrify and disgust in equal measure here.  Again there’s a faintly Manga-esque influence at play, which works extremely well to deliver Chapman’s storyline beats, but it’s the little details that really help to sell the series here, like the faint flecks of blood or beads of sweat on the faces of the students.  And the colours, oh the colours.  Everything looks dirty and disease-ridden, with sickly greens and browns punctuated by splashes of crimson helping to make a thoroughly disgusting aesthetic – in a good way, of course.

Things are clearly moving towards a definite conclusion, but with the virus itself behaving in some thoroughly unexpected ways it’s going to be interesting to see what sort of resolution Chapman and Levang have for us in the final issue.  I’ll wager that unlikely to be an uplifting finale with smiles and high-fives all round, and I’m already bracing myself to see what the pair have in store for us next month.  Whatever happens though, there’s no denying that Lazaretto has been one of the most impressive BOOM! Studios books of 2017, even if it is gradually morphing into something different from what I was initially expecting.

Rating: 4/5.

If you want to find out more about Lazaretto, make sure to check out our interview with Clay McLeod Chapman and Jey Levang by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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