System Shock: Lazarus #4 Review

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Last issue ended with a bang — literally — and writer/creator Greg Rucka doesn’t pull any punches with an intense pickup on action and drama in Lazarus #4.

Forever Carlyle and counterpart Joacquim Morray had a moment to watch the sunset, but their respite was just a calm before the storm. Missiles from a Carlyle chopper sent in by Forever’s brother Jonah rained down on the location sending both Forever and Joacquim into physical shock.

As Bethany and James monitor Forever’s stats back at the main compound, her body begins to patch itself up as Jonah’s team lands to finish the job.

Readers get a front row seat into what being a Lazarus entails as Forever painfully rises and meets the challenge, mercilessly and efficiently taking down all of her attackers. Besides enduring a physical battle while practically rising from the dead, Forever takes care of business knowing full and well the circumstances surrounding her betrayal — she claims right as commander of the Carlyle forces to order the men to stand down — and she has the wherewithal after the fight to make sure relations with the Morray family are maintained.

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Credit Rucka for moving deftly back and forth between the action sets and the chaos inside the Carlyle compound where the two scientists work blind and behind the scenes. Losing a Lazarus could mean losing the war, and a surprise attack like this one can shift the balance in one particular party’s favor. That notion isn’t lost in the brisk pacing of the issue’s plot, and Michael Lark’s pencils — Brian Level contributes — don’t smudge over the details with an eye for composition and cinematic details that don’t lose focus on the main points. Santi Arcas’ colors do their part in separating panels by atmosphere and lighting — and the subtle shades, while not being overtly flashy, have a grounded palette.

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No stone is left untouched — Rucka gives panel time for the other members of the family, including Malcolm who looks worse for the wear now that his family has begun to tear itself apart from the inside. Whether the expression on his face shows guilt or worry remains to be seen, and as complicated as it could be, Lazarus as a title works because its creative team works with a sharp and precise edge not unlike the blades the main character carries.

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Those sublime cuts can be found in the details. In the heat of battle, gunfire erupts hitting any and everybody — Lazarus and soldier. While it could be argued that this is violence for violence’s sake — it all serves a purpose, and the scenes account for the various layers and dimensions.

After all the attackers are finished off, Forever and Joacquim part, and the scene is the heaviest of all. Seeing what Joacquim is literally made of at this point, Forever sees what the future may hold for her as a Lazarus, and their time together has ended for the foreseeable future. Forever goes to confront Jonah only to find a beaten and battered Johanna.

If the first story arc gives us a fair glimpse of what it’s in store for Jonah — vengeance will be swift and painful. There’s a big and compelling picture that’s loaded with emotional turmoil and urgency, and the overall professional quality of the book makes it one of the best comics being released.

Lazarus #4 (2013)
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Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark and Brian Level
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters: Michael Lark

Previous Issue: Lazarus #3 Review
Next Issue: Lazarus #5 Review

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