A nationwide quarantine is now in effect as Charles and Tamara try to survive until morning.
Where to even start with Lazaretto #5? In the last chapter, Tamara reached the hallucination stage of the H3N8 canine flu. Before being captured by Henry and his goons, she nearly leapt to her death from Pascal South’s roof, thinking her mom was calling her out over the edge. Now, she and Charles are the subjects of a mad kangaroo court being held by the same cat who, just a few days ago, was handing out bottles of sanitizer and lecturing new students about washing their hands.
Chapter five opens with Henry the rapey RA deciding Charles and Tamara’s fates. Henry has completely lost it at this point, wearing an improvised laurel crown and cape, and sitting on a makeshift Iron Throne. At this point he doesn’t care if he infects the two holdouts or kills them, but one way or the other, they’ll pay dearly for bruising the narcissist’s ego.
The scariest thing about this scenario is that there’s nothing saying it couldn’t or wouldn’t play out in real life. Clay McLeod Chapman keeps telling us “Society is one sneeze away from collapse,” and it’s hardly an exaggeration. There’s the kicker. That’s the punchline. It’s impossible to create emotional distance from a story that could literally be playing out in real time, anywhere in the world.
Think about that for one second. How many times you gone to work to find a coworker who didn’t have the sick leave to stay home (or just didn’t see the point) while hacking up a lung? Ride the bus recently? I rest my case. We like to believe we have complete control over our situations, but the reality is that it only takes one stubborn virus in a crowded room to create a perfect storm.
As Chapman continues emotionally beating the hell out of you with the script, Jey Levang matches him stroke for stroke with the art choices. Levang’s deceptively delicate lines and washed out watercolor palette drew us into a false sense of security, before giving way to torqued layouts, skewed panels, blood, and sputum. By the end of this thing, you’ll want to wash your hands and bathe in hand sanitizer. On second thought, forget the sanitizer. Get out the bleach and the Brillo pads.
Lazaretto #5 is perfectly disgusting and horrifying. It’s the only way this story could go out.
Lazaretto #5 (of 5), published by Boom! Studios, released 31 January 2018. Written and created by Clay McLeod Chapman, illustrated by Jey Levang, letters by Aditya Bidikar, cover by Ignacio Valicenti.