It’s only three weeks until the Carlyle Family’s Lift — a chance given to Waste to be selected for service. For a majority of the Waste, it’s the dream of a lifetime, a sort of Dystopian Idol that can pull individuals from the slop and into a cushy career with benefits.
If the first Lazarus story arc was a view around the plaza, issue #5 feels like a bird’s eye gaining wings over a large city filled with turmoil and change. Forever’s dealings with her family are still front and center as she continues to hunt for her traitorous brother Jonah, but creator Greg Rucka’s plans to expand outside of that gains traction now with Waste characters getting their own pages and panels.
The shift from the micro to the macro begins with a flashback that directs attention towards Forever’s childhood. A visit by her father Malcolm becomes a test for the young Forever to prove herself worthy of the family sword.
A quick one-on-one between Forever and her trainer Marisol ends with the veteran having the upper hand. Failure won’t be tolerated, and Malcolm gives Forever an ultimatum: Win or become disowned.
In the present, Forever meets the daughter of the man she executed before heading out to the crash location of Jonah’s Dragon. Forever shows how powerful she really is when she uses her political clout to force a rival group to kill one of its own.
The story shifts back and forth from here on out between Forever and a family of Waste. Maintaining land for farming and keeping an inventory of books, the family clears out during an intense rainstorm before the banks breaks.
They return only to find everything they couldn’t carry wiped away. The bitter ending is a momentum builder, and if I could make a prediction — rebellion is coming.
Rucka’s Lazarus is one of the best comics out on market. Each issue feels fully realized and part of a greater whole. The story is polished with great attention to detail, and Rucka’s scripts read naturally with a sharp edge.
Michael Lark’s artwork is on par with the writing, and every panel is filled with the same kind of composition you would find in a movie that places great emphasis on cinematography. Lark’s action sequences don’t have to portray every step, stance, and connecting movement. Forever’s fight with Marisol is so well choreographed that readers can infer what happens in between the panels.
With Rucka and Lark remaining on the title, it’s also good to see that Santi Arcas on colors makes it a trifecta. Arcas’ colors aren’t flashy by any means, and the whole issue is a shade of brown with a few primary color breaks. To call it muddy would be partly true, but it’s for great purpose that Arcas doesn’t use vibrant colors for this story. The future is bleak, and while the wealthy few live in high-rises and elevated buildings, the rest of humanity digs in the dirt, weathering the storm.
The element of nature in Lazarus #5 speaks to the inner rumblings in play. Johanna has Forever’s trust, and it’s only time before she makes another play against her family. Rebellion is on the horizon, even as Lift approaches. And Forever’s relationship with her father is in doubt — another trap waiting to be sprung.
At this point, the only problem with Lazarus is that we have to wait for issues on a monthly basis.
Lazarus #5 (2013)
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Words: Greg Rucka
Art: Michael Lark and Brian Level
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters: Michael Lark and Brian Level