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. Classes have been cancelled and Pascal South is on lockdown to prevent the spread of contagions, but the infected students see it as a non-stop party.
The first chapter of Boom! Studios’ Lazaretto introduced the primary players and set the scene on Day Zero of the H3N8 outbreak at Yersin University. The two freshmen who share the focus are Charles, a quiet kid with a cuddly mom and an overbearing father, and Tamara, from a very churchy upbringing, who hasn’t really been away from home much.
Charles is roomed up with Louis, the street pharmacist, and Tamara’s roomed with Mary, who we don’t know a whole lot about, except that she starts coughing and spitting blood by page nine. The Canine Flu spreads quickly in the Petri dish of Pascal Dormitory, which prompts the CDC to close off the dorm and declare it an isolation facility.
Lazaretto #2 opens up two days later, and those elements of Lord of the Flies you were promised have started to creep in. The RAs and upperclassmen have taken over the fourth floor, holding a nonstop party. Rations and antibiotics, delivered daily by the CDC have become currency. Anarchy rules. It’s all sex and productive coughs and fevers and drugs and mean seniors and a complete lack of restriction and consequence. So, pretty much college, and a killer flu.
Lazaretto’s script is full of sly little nods. The name of the University is Yersin. Alexander Yersin was the Swiss doctor who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague. Pascal is a unit of measure that quantifies pressure or stress. Patient Zero’s name is Mary, as in Typhoid Mary. Clay McLeod Chapman uses dark humor to poke at college tropes like class hierarchy, pseudo authority figures (RAs), drug culture and libertine sexual attitudes, all of which combine to create a dark and deadly environment.
Jey Levang’s art was fun in the first issue. Light. Airy. Then things started going South. When the script takes a turn, so does the art. Those same delicate lines and washed out watercolors from the previous chapter are now overlaid with layers of blood and grime and snot. It’s creepy as hell.
Lazaretto is shaping up to be a great psychological thriller. It’s like Warning Sign meets the Stanford Prison Experiment.
Lazaretto #2 was released by Boom! Studios on 11 October 2017, featuring a script by Clay McLeod Chapman, art by Jey Levang, letters by Aditya Bidikar, and cover by Ignacio Valicenti.