Lazarus #5 (Image)

lazarus

Rating: 4.5/5 – Second arc plunges the story to new depths.

After a short hiatus, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark bring us Lazarus #5 to jumpstart the new arc in a way that pushes this futuristic dystopian yarn to new and interesting levels. There might be minimal action in this issue but Lazarus #5 is a pitch-perfect set-up for the second arc.

Things opens up with a significant event in Forever Carlyle’s childhood. It took place, unsurprisingly, during one of her training sessions.  Forever, biologically engineered to become the Lazarus of the Carlyle name, is for all intents and purposes, a Daddy’s Girl. Or at least that’s what she’s been led to believe as the Carlyle patriarch uses this knowledge to hammer her into shape, using stern and hurtful words that can serve as her primary motivation to train even harder. It’s tragic indeed, and the skill with which Rucka’s script delivered the scene made me sympathize with the protagonist on a more profound level.

Greg Rucka’s deft hand at world-building is on full display here as he treads through the intricate workings of this futuristic dystopian world with great skill. The overall result is as chilling as it is convincing. We get to see how unstable a truce between two neighboring families/holdings can be in light of their perceived differences. Johanna also gets a bit of a spotlight here as she displays a renewed (albeit uncharacteristic) commitment to fulfilling her duties as an esteemed daughter of the Carlyle family. That said, we are justified to feel a bit dubious about her true motivations in light of her past involvement with the traitor Jonah. We also get the opportunity to take a closer look at a specific locale of the “Waste” population and see the difficult circumstances the residents have to deal with. What happens in the end points to an emerging plot thread that’s intriguing and brimming with possibilities.

Michael Lark’s art can be characterized as gritty but with a certain polish that gives it an organic feel. His heavy inks, for instance, give his interiors an extra dimension that pulls you in further into the story. Plus there’s a level of dynamism in his choreography of action scenes that emphasizes the violence with such style and grace. The way he draws facial expressions is spot on. Try reading the comic without reading the words and you can almost tell exactly what’s going on. There are subtleties to his art that further elevate the comic from a storytelling standpoint. Coupled with Santi Arcas’s muted colors and skill in rendering contrasts, you get a comic that is as visually striking as it is beautiful.

The world Rucka and Lark have built here is fascinating in its complexity and the characters are interesting in their individual nuances. Most of all, Forever Carlyle is a protagonist one can easily empathize with and root for. Lazarus is a comic that is as intelligent as it is entertaining, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue will bring.

Reviewed by: Lawrence Arboleda – lawrence@comicspectrum.com
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