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.

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

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