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. From writer Clay McLeod Chapman (Spider-Verse, Ultimate Spider-Man, American Vampire, Vertigo Quarterly), whose most recent play, ‘Stump Speeches,’ was a New York Times Critics’ Pick; and introducing artist Jey Levang.
Transition to college is rough. You might think the biggest obstacle in adjusting to campus life for incoming freshman would be academic, but academia is a small part of the bigger picture. Emotional issues also play a large role in success or failure to adapt. Stress, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders are rampant among students trying to deal with separation and transition.
In BOOM! Studios’ Lazaretto, Clay McLeod Chapman takes all of those isolation, self discovery, and adjustment issues, throws in a highly contagious deadly viral outbreak, and delivers a well-timed script that is every freshman and parent’s worst nightmare.
Chapman doesn’t give us a lot of details on the canine flu itself. Everything we learn about the H3N8 virus in this first chapter is overheard from snippets of student conversation in the dorms and around campus. We spend much of the opening chapter getting to know our two main protagonists, Charles and Tamara, with the story slowly building to a tense cliffhanger.
Jey Levang’s art is something else. Using almost exclusively delicate, fine lines and a washed out, pastel palette, Levang draws the reader into a false sense of security. Levang tightens the screws with subtle visual cues that escalate as the tension builds, until we get torqued layouts with skewed panels and gutters, and bright red blood.
Lazaretto #1 is a well-paced introduction to what promises to be a terrifying five-part mini. The book hits a chord with its frank and realistic presentation. These things happen in real life, to real people. This scenario could be playing out right now and we wouldn’t know until it was too late.
Lazaretto #1, from Boom! Studios, is released today, the 6th of September 2017, written by Clay McLeod Chapman, illustrated by Jey Levang, with a cover by Ignacio Valicenti.