Lazarus issue 9 brings the “Lift” arc to a close and leaves me wanting more from the team of Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, and Santi Arcas. Lift is the second arc of Lazarus and introduced more of the world in which Forever Carlyle lives and what it’s like when you’re not lucky enough to be born into one of the ruling affluent families.
The Barrets, along with Casey Solomon, have made their way to Denver to take part in the lift selection, an event where lower class citizens, referred to as waste, get a chance at a better life: serving the Carlyle family as a Serf. The Barrets have had a rough journey; they lost their daughter, Leigh, on the road and have to compete with thousands of others who have come to see if they will get a chance at serfdom.
Rucka and co. have created some great auxiliary characters – it’s interesting to see the difference in what Cassie and Michael Barret have to offer. Michael has become a sort of quasi-road doctor, administrating first aid for people while they all wait for the lift selection to start, while Cassie has become a road warrior, protecting her new family and bartering for goods while Joe Barret recovers from his gunshot wound. But of all the Barrets, Bobbie stands out as the voice of reason, reminding them that even though they may get a better chance, they shouldn’t forget how the families will leave you to die if it fits their financial quotas. Even after being befriended by a nun that works with the Carlyle family and wants to help Michael and Cassie get to the front of the line, Bobbie remains defiant, reminding them that, “it’s all the same corruption, just wears different clothes.”
This issue isn’t all about the Barrets, though; Forever, the Lazarus of the Carlyle family, is still searching for a dirty bomb that is believed to be in the crowd of people waiting for lift selection. A group of terrorists calling themselves “the Free” want to disrupt the system. Forever has been on their tail for the last couple of issues and after interrogating some of its members, using tactics ranging from bribes of wealth and fame to outright drugging and beating people. There is a nice flashback sequence showing Forever finally having her final duel with Marisol, the woman that trained Forever when she was younger. This is a moment that has been building for quite a few issues. Forever was raised alone to be the Lazarus, and in this final duel, her father has led her to believe it’s kill or be killed.
The creative team on this book is simply extraordinary. Rucka’s pacing of the story brings a nice level of tension to each character’s arc, whether it’s a young Forever contemplating having to kill her mentor and only real friend in the world, or seeing the torturous journey the Barrets have gone through. Michael Lark and Santi Arcas continue to astound me with their storytelling. Most of the fighting in this series is hand-to-hand and it’s always showcased beautifully. The opening flashback fight between Marisol and Forever is a perfect example. There is so much movement conveyed between the two in only a few short panels, and the action is perfectly balanced with reaction shots of both combatants and the people watching them - the look in the fighters’ eyes as they realize this could be the last time they see each other alive, to the cold calculated stare of Forever’s father, who seems to only want a Lazarus capable of protecting the interests of the Carlyle family.
I could go on and on about this series. From the start it has been one of my favorite new books from Image, and if this arc is any indication of what is coming, I’m looking forward to it. The end of the world scenario they present is a nice take, something that seems completely believable in today’s world. The characters that inhabit it are engaging and well-thought out. This is one of the few books that really gets me excited when I see it on the stands come Wednesdays, and this issue didn’t fail to deliver.