As hopeful applicants march on towards Denver for the Lift, Forever Carlyle storms a terrorist cell building IEDs.
Plot threads weave together to form a tightly knit issue in Lazarus #8. We get more of Forever’s personal and physical trials as a Lazarus in training, the Barrets in mourning as Michael makes a name for himself as a healer, and some of the relationship dynamics in the Carlyle family.
All of it is set with the Lift as a background — a major event bringing hundreds of thousand together in one place for what could be, for some, a life-changing moment. And when we realize the surmounting danger, it’s both clear and very present.
Greg Rucka gives us equal parts hope and despair. Positioning the story in line with the Lift applicants, Rucka puts us next to Michael as he tends manageable injuries. That he explains it away with, “I’ve just done more reading than most, I guess,” shows how far back things have progressed for the general public who are helpless against the elements and even minor injuries.
Casey does her part for the family by trading work for water, though it’s clear that women are at an increased risk because of the aggressive pimps and their sex buses. The bleak reality is heightened in light of Bobbie Barret telling Joe how much she misses Leigh.
Rucka also continues forging the origin of Forever with a flashback that puts the youngest Carlyle in a Metal Gear Solid-like simulation if it had gun-toting conquistadors as guards. It’s Forever’s birthday, but her father decides not to join in the festivities once he learns Forever isn’t ready enough to take on her trainer Marisol. He does leave a gift — a copy of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King.
Through it all, Michael Lark and Brian Level provide artwork and lettering with amazing skill. This isn’t a a perfect future complete with robots and flying cars — this is a vision of humanity where most of civilization has taken a long step backwards. The environments change depending on which locale we’re transported to, going from simulation, to research facility, to the secret terrorist cell’s hideout, and then the road to Denver. Each scene has its own characteristics that hold the story within different but congruent containers.
Accentuating all of these points are Santi Arcas’ colors which cements the panels in place. The soft and muddy colors give Lazarus as a title a more realistic tone that demands to be taken seriously.
I can’t wait for the next issue. We have the weapon, the carrier, and the potential for mass damage. In comics, we look forward to our superheroes taking on bigger and badder threats because we want to see the explosions. In Lazarus, however, we know what’s at stake — the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. We know these people because, if this were reality, we’d be the ones trekking miles for a chance to prove ourselves special.
And that’s the thing about war — whether it’s fought by armies or cells — everyone is vulnerable. A bomb doesn’t care where you were born, how much money you’ve got, or what you do for a living. In the face of death, we are all alive for just one moment more before it’s over.
Lazarus #8 (2013)
Words: Greg Rucka
Art: Michael Lark and Brian Level
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters: Michael Lark and Brian Level