Anyone who’s connected to Greg Rucka through his Twitter or his Tumblr knows he has a keen interest in politics and current affairs.
After diving into Lazarus #6, it’s very clear that Rucka’s interests in things outside of comics has influenced the world of Forever Carlyle for better or worse.
And my opinion is — it’s for the better.
Lazarus has consistently pushed the envelope with mature storytelling that has expanded bit by bit to explore politics, social inequalities, and the day to day lives of realistic characters living on both ends of the economical ladder. From the top of the food chain (Carlyles) to the bottom rung (Bobbie and the other Waste), Lazarus isn’t a title filled with caricatures kicking around cliches. Lazarus, like great science-fiction novels, works because it takes something we know, repackages it, then gives us a microscopic view of it that gets our brains working.
That doesn’t mean each reader will come away with the same meaning or walk through the same thought process, but the fact that it’s provoking — Lazarus isn’t a book you should be reading while you’re doing something else. It demands your attention because there’s so much going on within each page.
With Lift season in full swing, members of the Waste caste look forward to being selected for work. Being a part of the Waste caste doesn’t mean someone’s absolutely destitute — Bonnie Barret and her clan own land, pay taxes to their governing Family, and eke out an existence.
Last issue, a storm wiped out the Barret house and crops which forces Bonnie to ask the Carlyle Family for assistance. Help comes at a price, and Bonnie’s clan makes a decision to head for the Lift, giving up their land rights.
Meanwhile, another group of Waste break into the Family Carlyle storage, stealing two acetylene canisters. The thieves don’t know there’s a Lazarus on watch, and Forever gains information that will set her on a trail to discover what the Waste are up to.
The two parallel stories moving forward concern Forever’s journey to make her Family proud while the Barrets head to Denver to get work. Both work for family, but the contrast is that Forever as an agent works on the outside, hoping to be received. Bonnie, on the other hand, struggles to maintain a livelihood that secures a future for her brood.
Rucka’s scripting is sharp and to the point. Each scene reminds us about the location, the stakes, and the possible repercussions that could dramatically change not just the lives of the characters but the world at large.
That sort of scope keeps Lazarus interesting because a slight shift in direction at the bottom can lead to gigantic ramifications at the top.
Rucka’s partner in visual rhyme is Michael Lark, and it’s difficult to envision Lazarus with anyone else’s artistic interpretation of this distopian future. There are two pages with just one caption for all of its 10 panels that should be studied by potential comic artists. It’s sequential storytelling by a master of the craft that sets up Forever’s security detail that puts her on the trail of the thieving Waste.
And if Lark’s absence upsets the title by measure and miles, Santi Arcas’ colors would be sorely missed as well if there was a change in the guard. The tones of Lazarus are its soil, it’s environment, it’s life. The creative team of three have a synergy that’s producing one of the best comic books being released, and anyone looking for a story that’s packed with emotion and meaningful plotting should get on board.
Lazarus is comicdom’s Martian Chronicles with its personal touch and real-world perspective. These characters live and breathe as if they were taken from living constructs. This is a series not to be missed unless you’re only about capes and spandex.
Lazarus #6 (2013)
Words: Greg Rucka
Art: Michael Lark and Brian Level
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters Michael Lark and Brian Level