Lazarus #28 (May 2018)

Lazarus #28

Once again, Lazarus is fine. It’s fine where Rucka’s going with the book–turning exiled, thought-dead Jonah into a real hero, for example–but there’s something else going on too.

The art. Lark and Boss are drawing less, the colors are doing more; the backgrounds have a dullness to them. By the end of the issue, the characters look like animation cels. It’s real obvious.

The issue itself, with Jonah’s new “family” going to war right after his baby is born, is also fine. It’s effective, well-paced. Kind of manipulative, but sure, fine. Rucka has oodles of goodwill on Lazarus and doing an interlude away from the main plot doesn’t spend as much as a regular issue.

But the art. The art isn’t there. It’s distressing by the end of the issue, because it gets progressively worse. The finale sends Jonah into the new “main” arc, a single parent who’s survived through determination and the good fortune of family medicine. It’d be exciting (kind of, he’s now even more a trope), but all the art promises for what’s next is lessening quality.

Frankly, it’s bumming me out. I’d rather Lark exit gracefully than go out this way.

CREDITS

Fracture, Prelude: Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

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Lazarus #27 (April 2018)

Lazarus #27

Lazarus is back. It hasn’t been entirely gone, but the regular series has been on hiatus for a bit. And now it’s back.

And it’s not exactly Lazarus. It’s a two-part prelude to the next arc and is all about brother Jonah’s adventures with the Danes. Forever didn’t kill him; instead she saved him and threw him in the sea. There some Danish fishers find him. They’re a family of fishers under a different capital f Family than Jonah–or his allies–and they nurse him back to health. He works with them, the daughter falls in love with him, his previous life is forgotten.

Until next issue.

The art’s great. Michael Lark doing a dystopian fishing village turns out to be great. The “action”–the fishing–comes off. Along with the drama as the family tries to figure out what to do with Jonah.

Rucka’s writing is fine. It’s all character stuff. Not exactly character work–there’s little character development outside summary panels; the daughter falling for Jonah is, so far, not neccesarily a bad thing. It’ll probably be a bad thing (for her) very soon. But for now, it’s a tranquil existence. In a dystopia.

It’s a sturdy, sure-footed–and very safe–return for Lazarus

CREDITS

Fracture, Prelude: Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 26 (March 2017)

Lazarus #26

The arc ends. Finally. Forever is back in action. Supporting cast members are working together towards something in the future. There’s a lot of exposition, a lot of flashbacks–Rucka packs the issue with material, all before Lark lets loose on a big action sequence finale. This arc, which took the creators a while to get out, seems like it has too much material. The war stuff gets lost and is just exposition until Forever gets into the fray. Then it just goes crazy. It’s a good issue with some great art, but it feels a little like Lazarus has had a course correction. Hopefully the future will be smoother.

CREDITS

Cull, Part Five; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 25 (October 2016)

Lazarus 25

Lazarus is back on track–sort of, Rucka still splits the issue too much–but he doesn’t just give Forever something to do, he lets her make the big decision. The latest arc has been floundering a bit because Forever has been recuperating and way too much the subject of the comic and not enough the protagonist. The moves Rucka makes this issue don’t exactly but her back in the protagonist chair, but they put her close enough to it to create some good will, all while he’s implying the chair is about to get upgraded.

Rucka does try to make the non-Forever, non-Carlyle half of the comic more dynamic. There’s a news team trying to get a good story or something. It leads to some mildly amusing dialogue and a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger doesn’t have any meat to it–the comic gets more enthusiasm off its promise of next issue’s Lazarus battle (as it involves Forever) than anything in the cliffhanger.

As always, the Lark art is wonderful. Even if he does just get to do talking heads. Rucka seems to be about done with his setup, he just needs to deliver on it. This issue suggests he can and will, enough I’m not worried. I just want him to get to it. Forever needs to kick some ass.

CREDITS

Cull, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 24 (August 2016)

Lazarus #24

It’s a perfectly good issue of Lazarus but it feels a little slight. Rucka’s trying to do too much at once–Forever’s story, little Forever’s story, the family, then the action stuff… it’s just too much. Lark’s good at expressive action from characters and the juxtaposition of young and regular Forever is cute, but it’s not enough.

Lazarus has been running so lean for so long, having an issue where Rucka spins a bunch of subplot wheels for future development is a little strange. He’s moved the book away from Forever’s point of view and hasn’t returned to her. Everything’s still strong–like I said, perfectly good–but it feels off. Taking Forever out of the action–especially since the action sequences are just assassination missions–makes the action seems a lot less salient.

With so much going on in the book now–I mean, there are two Forevers, double the usual amount–I suppose an unevenly paced issue is inevitable. Or maybe I just want Forever, the real Forever, back in action.

CREDITS

Cull, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 23 (July 2016)

Lazarus #23

Rucka employs a lot of structure for this issue of Lazarus. There’s a framing device, then a flashback, then a reveal about the framing device. Only that reveal has absolutely nothing to do with what happened in the flashback and it doesn’t really change the initial frame, it’s just there for Rucka and Lark to do something else cool. There’s a sword fight. Lark does a really, really good job with it. He paces it out perfectly–you can hear the swords clanging looking at his panels–and then when Rucka gets around to the reveal on it? Turns out Rucka’s got some really great ideas too. It’s just a perfect thing in the comic.

It also has nothing to do with the main story. It’s like a glorified subplot, only specially rendered. And, wait, there is something else with some returning characters–maybe this arc is going to go a little bit differently in terms of narrative approach? i.e. Forever won’t be the lead. Something the flashback does address. Lazarus is just an expertly executed book at this point. Rucka and Lark have a phenomenal rhythm.

The flashback, which involves the Carlyle family and their sci-fi soap opera (I mean it in a very good way), has some twists and turns of its own. Rucka’s setting up the arc but he’s also making sure to reward the reader’s patience.

And there’s gorgeous Lark art.

CREDITS

Cull, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 22 (June 2016)

Lazarus #22

Forever is out of commission this issue of Lazarus, giving Rucka time to develop Johanna further. The supporting cast of Lazarus is always something of a prickly situation as they know more than the protagonist and than the reader. It makes it hard to be sympathetic towards them, hard to trust them. Actively hiding something from Forever feels like actively hiding it from the reader. It’s hostile.

For instance, the little Forever Carlyle clone. She’s adorable. She has snowball fights. She’s probably going to either kill a bunch of people or get killed. It’s going to be tragic. And Johanna is aware of it and unfeeling about it. The most important thing Rucka’s done with his “world building” is make the characters of Lazaraus acceptably soapy. It’s the main suspension of disbelief. You have to believe the machinations.

This issue gives Johanna enough character–though Rucka does go a little far with the father issues. But Johanna does have enough character to function now. She’s rounded enough.

Now, all of this story stuff comes during what’s essentially an action issue. Lark gets to do two major battle scenes. With flying soldier guys. It’s awesome.

So nice to have another Lazarus.

CREDITS

Cull, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 21 (December 2015)

Lazarus #21

Rucka gets so much done this issue, so many plot threads tied up–while introducing a great new one in the soft cliffhanger–I can’t even remember them all. It’s an extra-sized issue, which helps, because there’s a lot going on besides the war comic.

This issue, with Forever and her unit attacking the enemy’s position? It’s a war comic. It’s Michael Lark doing a war comic; sort of future-y, but not really. It’s also Lark doing an action comic. Forever’s in an action movie version of a war; she’s Chuck Norris. It’s awesome, because Rucka maintains the tone, maintains the seriousness. He, Lark and co-inker Tyler Boss are as restrained and careful as ever.

The rest of the comic has the family working on a cure for the patriarch while one of the daughters has to take over for the “in charge” brother because he can’t hack it. It’s almost like an episode of “Dallas,” only with a bunch of military stuff going on. But it’s all off-panel; it creates a lot of tension for Forever.

Lazarus continues to be a fantastic book.

CREDITS

Poison, Part Five; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 20 (November 2015)

Lazarus #20

It’s been too long since I last read Lazarus. The comic’s bimonthly and has been for a while. Maybe forever (no pun intended). But, with Lazarus’s big cliffhangers of late, I guess I expected Rucka to be more sensational with this issue. Instead, he’s reserved. He’s not showing off.

This issue is the first one where I decided I’d read Lazarus again. I probably would have made that decision, but not for a while. With this issue, however… I want to go back immediately following its conclusion. Because Rucka’s pacing is strange. It’s deliberate, it’s distracting, but Rucka’s able to maintain an intense ambition to his storytelling.

And Lark gets to do a bunch this issue. A military combat sequence–beautifully constructed–and a nice little hand-to-hand fight. And some nearly noir machinations scenes. Lark’s not the artist to do the fantastical, which helps make Lazarus’s dystopian future realistic, but Lark is the artist who does the work. So it’s fantastical Lark, which seems an oxymoron, but isn’t.

Really good stuff. I hope the next issue comes out sooner than two months.

CREDITS

Poison, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 19 (September 2015)

Lazarus #19

It’s so good. Do I always start a Lazarus response with that statement? “It’s so good.” Like every time I read the comic, I’m surprised by how good Rucka and Lark do on the comic. It’s always a surprise too. Rucka hits a new ceiling. He integrates Lark and his abilities in an entirely predictable but entirely unexpected way. It’s great stuff.

Lark’s art is real strong this issue overall. He’s got really varied storylines going on, each needing distinct, immediate visuals. Lark finds a tone for each. What’s really cool–and something Rucka did carefully–was get someone likable into every storyline. Or someone comically unlikable (the evil, incestuous sister). It brings a soap opera element into it. And then Lark and Rucka deliver an action sequence.

Lazarus, very, very discreetly, mixes genres. And Rucka does it really well. It might be why the first arc didn’t connect–it was setting up the situation to allow Rucka all the freedom. The painful exposition about the dystopian future, for example, set up the second storyline, which is where Lazarus started to get good. And now it’s one of my favorite comics.

Awesome last sequence too; just awesome.

CREDITS

Poison, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 18 (July 2015)

Lazarus #18

I’m getting sick of my Lazarus posts. I hope you all aren’t. They go the same way–hated it for the first arc, then started loving Lazarus and now I await every issue with baited breath and count the hours till its release.

But I’ve got to say all that stuff again. Good thing I already did. This issue’s so good. Even with the most obvious, most manipulative cliffhanger I’ve ever seen. Because Rucka does everything else in the issue so well, even how he structures the cliffhanger–doesn’t hurt having Lark’s awesome art (assisted by Tyler Boss on inks). Lark gives Rucka so much leeway–there’s a Forever action scene. Forget everything else.

There’s Forever versus a bunch of soldiers. By Michael Lark. And it’s awesome. It’s so good. It brings back that old Lark thrill of seeing him realize something for the first time.

As usual, it’s excellent.

CREDITS

Poison, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 17 (June 2015)

Lazarus #17

Where did Lazarus come from? Every time I read it, I have to remember it wasn’t always one of my favorite comics. Far from it. But now, even when Rucka can turn the series at a ninety degree angle and still come out doing not just something special but something special for artist Lark too–I just have to wonder… where did it come from? Did Rucka know he’d eventually be able to take it across genre without ever leaving the world he set up?

This issue is not a traditional Lazarus issue. It’s a war comic. It’s even a homefront comic. It’s a war comic with the soldiers, it’s a war comic with the generals. It’s still a Lazarus comic with the family politicking. It’s a lot.

The Lark art is phenomenal. The digital snowflakes do serve the story, but sadly hinder me getting to gawk at Lark’s art.

CREDITS

Poison, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 16 (April 2015)

Lazarus #16

For the first time in ten issues or so, Lazarus doesn’t sit well.

Oh, it’s fine–the script’s certainly stronger than the first arc of the series, but Rucka’s got a problem. He’s got an artist without time for the comic so what’s he going to do? A fill-in issue. But Lark does most of the art, just nothing exciting. Instead of exciting, there are these graphic design fill-in pages by Owen Freeman and Eric Trautmann. Diagrams, journal entries, all sorts of malarky.

And it is malarky. Rucka’s got his story–this secret agent nun trying to do something–and he tells it so Lark never has to get too involved with the art. Lots of night scenes, lots of black. Long shots with narration. No one actually talking for most of the comic.

Fill-in issues, done-in-one issues, they’re a necessary evil to modern comics.

CREDITS

Mercy; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark, Tyler Boss, Owen Freeman and Eric Trautmann; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 15 (February 2015)

Lazarus #15

Much of the issue–maybe even most of the issue–is a sword fight. There’s no dialogue, no description; Lark moves through the fight, sometimes showing reaction shots, sometimes working on a subplot, but the point is the two women fighting. It’s brilliantly choreographed and it shows a level of concentration from Lark, who I never thought of as a movement guy.

The story is good too, with Rucka finding space for some rather good content in the speaking parts of the comic. But the fight and visual nature of it are part of the writing too. Rucka helps the fight and gets to benefit from it and Lark gets to do this lengthy sequence.

Lazarus first surprised when it managed not to be as terrible as the beginning arc suggested, then it got really good, now it’s getting ambitious with the medium. The book is ever the constant surprise.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Five; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 14 (January 2015)

Lazarus #14

Rucka deals with some really big issues in the front half of the issue–like finally making it clear where Forever comes from (or at least where her brother says she comes from), not to mention the resolution to the kidnapped brother arc.

The second half of the issue has a little psychological fallout and then the big political fallout from the first half. Unfortunately, Rucka overplays the political fallout. It’s interesting stuff, but it’s not dramatic. Lark can do talking heads. Instead of doing talking heads, though, Rucka has him do… listening heads. It’s just not dramatic, it’s hard to keep interest.

And then the cliffhanger, which could have been really dramatic, is quizzical. Rucka assumes readers are rather familiar with the supporting cast without giving them any reminders. It’s written for the trade–not in terms of not enough action, but that familiarity.

But the first half’s awesome.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 13 (November 2014)

Lazarus #13

It’s a decent issue, but not one with much content. Most of the politicking takes place off page and Rucka even turns the cliffhanger resolution into an expository recap. He does it to show Forever’s burgeoning romance with one of the other Lazari, which is good from the character development standpoint… Only it’s all Rucka really does this issue.

He ends on a setup for what’s next–and I really hope this issue’s developments for Forever (friends, family, romantic interests) aren’t just fodder for later conflicts–but nothing really happens. Lark doesn’t get much to draw; three pages of Forever and her romantic interest’s flirtations and petting seems like a combination waste of pages and of Lark’s talents. Talking heads with one or two lines a panel….

Still, Rucka has a good amount of steam on Lazarus and it gets through. Forever’s a fantastic protagonist, even in a dull entry.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 12 (October 2014)

Lazarus #12

If you had told me twelve issues in, Lazarus would be a comic I just had to read first the week it came out, I never would have believed it. You can go back and read the rather negative posts about the first five issues.

But Rucka has found the series. Especially with this arc about the political intrigue with the families; it’s a little soapier and a little showier, but it works out beautifully. He gives Lark the most basic action–the Lazari sparring with each other in the gym–but then gives him some great talking heads and a grand ball to render. Lark does a fantastic job.

The change in the comic seems to be from Rucka’s concentration on the intrigue–and Forever’s character development–instead of him having to guide the reader’s judgment with the families. Or something. Who knows. Who cares. It’s an excellent comic.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 11 (September 2014)

Lazarus #11

Not a torture issue, thank goodness; instead it's a Lazarus issue with a lot of well-done political intrigue. There's not a lot of fighting, but there are some stylized stand-offs. Lark can do talking heads, he can do stand-offs. The issue's the perfect medium grade Lark–he's not stretching, but he's surpassing all goals.

Rucka gets to do political plotting related to the previous issue–the torture one–but also back to the first story arc. All of those awkward opening issues with too much melodrama have laid the groundwork for Rucka to get creative with his storytelling. His requirements are a lot different now.

There's some good character stuff with Forever, which has been a long time coming. She's slowly becoming a worthwhile protagonist instead of just an interesting character.

Lazarus has been on slow burn but it's starting to get downright reliable issue after issue. It's very solid work from Rucka.

CREDITS

Conclave, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics

Lazarus 10 (August 2014)

Lazarus #10

It's a torture issue. Sure, it's a torture issue where the guy getting tortured is an odious previous villain in Lazarus, but it's still a torture issue.

What's most surprising about it is Lark sticking on the art for what's essentially a done-in-one fill-in type issue. The rogue son of the main family goes off to another family–who are based in New York City, which gives Lark a chance to do something like Escape from New York for a bit and it's awesome–and it's his bad time trying to defect.

Rucka uses the issue to establish how the world works outside the family he's used to dealing with and to setup either the next story arc or the next few story arcs.

The issue moves a little too fast, but the Lark New York scenes make up for it in art, and the resolution is a decent surprise.

It's fine.

CREDITS

Extraction; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics

Lazarus 9 (July 2014)

Lazarus #9

You know, I can’t remember the last time I’ve liked a comic plot–along with how things turn out for the characters–but not liked the comic itself. Until today.

Rucka has been making leaps and bounds improvements with Lazarus and they sort of culminate here… at least in terms of character development. The lousy narrative structure of this issue? It’s a regression. It’s practically an all action issue, but not really. Rucka opens with a sword duel flashback and it’s pretty art from Lark but it’s not worth the pages. Those pages would have been better spent towards the end in the present action, making the action scenes there resonate better.

There’s also the missed opportunity to better bring together the arc’s various characters.

Again, it’s a fulfilling issue for a reader in terms of narrative progression, it’s just a mess of a comic. Very awkward to talk about.

C 

CREDITS

Lift, Part Five; writer, Greg Rucka; artists and letterers, Michael Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics

Lazarus 8 (April 2014)

Lazarus #8

Rucka shows all the subplots coming together at the end of the issue for the soft cliffhanger. It’s not particularly dramatic stuff; the connection is contrived, which is okay because Lazarus is kind of a big soap opera. The kids hating their rich father is enough to make it a soap opera. Through in an “adopted” genetically engineered sibling and it’s even bigger.

There are some problems with how long this arc is going. Hopefully it’s only another issue. A lot has happened but most of the events just rearranged things. Rucka’s still coasting on some of the more effective events, kind of zooming downhill on that momentum to get him to the finale.

Nothing much happens. It’s filler, except the linking of the story lines. But it’s still good enough. Even with Lark’s art falling off a bit, especially on faces. They look way too hurried.

But steady on.

B 

CREDITS

Lift, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; artists and letterers, Michael Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics

Lazarus 7 (March 2014)

Lazarus #7

Even though there’s a rather emotional turn of events this issue–Rucka and Lark pace the sequence perfectly–there’s almost a genial quality to this issue of Lazarus. As genial as a comic where the opening scene is a flashback to Forever getting caned as a child.

But that genial quality, along with an odd sense of wonderment in the soft cliffhanger, are worrisome for the arc. Not terribly worrisome, just a bit. Rucka can either reward the reader or be honest to the story. While reading the issue, these concerns don’t come up. Only afterwards.

The stuff with the peasant family trying to make it to the opportunity to better themselves is good. Maybe a little too much tugging on the heartstrings but no worse than any number of Westerns.

Forever, in the modern day, is investigating a terror cell. It’s practically the B plot, but engaging.

Lazarus’s stride is continuing.

B 

CREDITS

Lift, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artists and letterers, Michael Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 6 (February 2014)

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Reading this issue of Lazarus, I was having a hard time reconciling it with the way the comic used to read. It’s become one I look forward to reading (not just seeing the Lark art) and I think I figured out what Rucka’s doing differently.

First, he’s turned Forever into a somewhat unreliable protagonist. The reader gets to see her reactions to certain things and assume her emotions, but Rucka is deftly suggesting not. The reader doesn’t know what Forever’s doing because she’s not that kind of protagonist.

Second, he’s splitting the story between the big power people and the little people. Even if the little people are scummy security guards. Rucka’s mixed the pot a little–there’s a cast of interesting people.

Maybe third, maybe more part two point one, is how Rucka’s opening up the space. He’s giving Lark much more to draw.

It’s becoming a solid read.

B+ 

CREDITS

Lift, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artists and letterers, Michael Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 5 (December 2013)

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Maybe all Lazarus needed was some context. Rucka finally shows life for regular people–presumably these new cast members will be returning after their little adventure this issue. He doesn’t spend so much time on exposition for them either. He just shows their lives in this future. For Forever and her story, there’s always a lot of explaining.

But the issue also shows Forever in charge (though Rucka’s flashing back to her upbringing when she wasn’t) and these are good scenes. There’s a great standoff with a rival gang, there’s a great standoff with the daughter of a subject Forever had executed. Rucka’s definitely using Lark to his fullest this issue, those pensive Lark expressions.

It might also help the series is past the “pilot” stage. Even with all the exposition, Rucka’s a lot more comfortable and confident in the future details. Or maybe there are just less of them.

B 

CREDITS

Lift, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers and letterers, Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 4 (October 2013)

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I’m going to have to talk a lot about the Lark art because there’s not much story to discuss. Except maybe how the scientist sister has the hots for the poor boy scientist she works with. Or maybe not. But it did give me another sentence and another sentence is a lot for a discussion of this issue.

It’s an all action issue. As much as I love Lark–and he’s back on the ball this issue, no slacking here–seeing him do prolonged action is boring. It’s amazing if concise, boring if too long. It’s way too long this issue.

There’s some intrigue with the rest of the family, most of it entirely predictable. There’s a tiny character moment for Forever with the other Lazarus, but it’s slight.

The soft cliffhanger’s inane. It’s far from Rucka’s worst script on the series, but it’s a tepid outing to be sure.

CREDITS

Family, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller and letterer, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 3 (August 2013)

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Besides the incest twins playing it up like Bond villains, this issue features Rucka’s best writing on Lazarus. It kind of features Lark’s worst art on it–he really doesn’t take a lot of time with the incest twins but who would–but it’s still quite good art as it’s Lark.

The issue even manages to survive Rucka’s negotiation scene, which reminds way too much of Dune. But before that scene, Rucka has an interesting scene with Forever and another family’s Lazarus. Wait, I’ve said it all reminds a little of Dallas too, right?

Anyway, this issue’s actually got talking, thinking adversaries for Forever to interact with, which helps a lot. Rucka’s got all his plots within plots; those don’t do any good for honest scenes. He usually asks the reader to suspect everyone and every scene, not just read the comic.

Lazarus isn’t great, but it’s finally nice reading.

CREDITS

Family, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; penciller and letterer, Michael Lark; inkers, Lark, Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Level; colorist, Santiago Arcas; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 2 (July 2013)

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Sort of a lot happens but also not a lot. Rucka really plays up incest between the siblings, which would have been shocking if he hadn’t done it twice.

There’s a lot of suggestions here too about Forever. She was genetically engineered, probably grown or cloned. Rucka treats it like a big deal because she doesn’t know, but it’s not a big deal for the reader.

Not much of Lazarus feels original, which I might have complained about before. The setting–dystopian Western United States–aside. It’s kind of like Dune and probably something set in feudal Italy.

There is a great bit at the end with Forever; it’s the only time she really gets a scene to herself. Rucka does well with it too.

But even though it’s not original, even though it’s repetitive, there’s Lark. And Lark does some beautiful art for it. Great muted action in particular.

CREDITS

Family, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artist and letterer, Michael Lark; colorist, Santi Arcas; publisher, Image Comics.

Lazarus 1 (June 2013)

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I haven’t seen an episode of “Dallas” since I was a kid, but for some reason, when the characters in Lazarus blather on about family, it reminds me of “Dallas.”

This first issue has three distinct tones. One is action. There’s a lot of action at the beginning; with another artist, I’d probably argue it’s a waste of pages but Michael Lark is never a waste of pages, even if he is just showing off how the protagonist is a master ninja or whatnot. There’s the difference–Lark’s action sequences convey information.

Then there’s the scenes where the protagonist–Forever (it’s often confusing)–talks to her doctor. She’s apparently indestructible, so he just fixes her up. Like she’s a robot, actually. Exposition there.

Then the family soap opera scenes, with some other stuff thrown in.

Greg Rucka’s script’s far from perfect, but it’s vaguely compelling sci-fi with gorgeous art.

CREDITS

Family, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; artist and letterer, Michael Lark; colorist, Santiago Arcas; publisher, Image Comics.

Winter Soldier 9 (October 2012)

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I can’t believe I forgot about the Brubaker fake arc. It’s when he identifies something as an arc, but it leads directly into the next issue, which starts another arc. He usually uses a hard cliffhanger (and does so here too).

It’s always vaguely frustrating because Brubaker uses the expectations to fool the reader. It’s mostly a Marvel phenomenon for him and it’s always a little hostile.

With an extremely fast-paced issue–like this one–it leaves one wondering why bother reading it at all. The recap in the next issue will have all the pertinent information, since Brubaker doesn’t have a single character moment in this issue. It’s all setup for what’s next.

If Brubaker’s Marvel career has been rehashing the books he liked in the seventies, Winter Soldier is more just rehashing his own earlier Marvel work. Bucky’s got a nemesis. Big whoop.

It’s okay, albeit unrewarding.

CREDITS

Broken Arrow, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Winter Soldier 8 (September 2012)

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Once again, I’ve got to question Brubaker’s approach. He splits this issue of Winter Soldier between Bucky and the bad guy. The bad guy has kidnapped Natasha and he’s going to brainwash her. It’s unclear why he hates Bucky so much–Brubaker plays fast and loose with that logic a lot. He tries to “realistically” update seventies Marvel comics, but he doesn’t take into account the character motivations.

Except when Bucky’s fellow SHIELD agent wonders why Bucky would be dating Black Widow in the first place.

Bucky and SHIELD are trying to find Natasha, which provides some fight scenes. Nothing too fantastic, just Bucky beating the crap out of thugs. Again, logic. A super-spy is hiring thugs from waterfront bars? Because it’s the 1940s? Later, Bucky’s metal arm saves his butt. It made me question how good he’d be without it.

As usual, it’s great looking, fun and problematic.

CREDITS

Broken Arrow, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Mitch Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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