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Lazarus #13 continues the story of the Carlyle family as they convene a conference between the heads of the most powerful families in this suffering world. Overall, this issue is strong, adding elements of suspense and emotional heft on a number of different fronts, while also ending with a potent surprise. Creators Greg Rucka and Michael Lark throw some new wrinkles into the story arc and also explore a couple of interesting new characters.
The main conflict underlying the meetings of the family heads is between the Hock family, who have kidnapped disgraced Jonah Carlyle, and the Carlyle clan that Jonah tried to overthrow in the series’ first arc. Jakob Hock has experimented on Jonah to figure out exactly how the Carlyles are able to fight aging. At the end of Lazarus #12, the elderly Hock threw off his leg braces, able to stand again, showing that he had indeed figured out the Carlyle’s secret.
This issue builds on that major moment, as the Carlyle family tries to secure their ally base while also building a case that Hock has stolen their secret research. However, Malcom Carlyle, the head of the family, starts to see in Lazarus #13 that neither part of that front is going especially well. There’s not enough evidence to prove Hock stole the Carlyle work and some of their allies may be shifting, mainly due to Hock’s “discovery.” So Malcolm sends his Lazarus – Forever Carlyle – out on an important and dangerous secret mission. At first it appears she may be trying to rescue Jonah from Hock, but at the end it looks like she may actually be killing him instead.
Meanwhile, Forever is developing her long-brewing romance with Joacquim Morray, the Lazarus of the Morray family. It’s her first love, and the normally strong and calculating shows a soft side with the intensity of her feelings for Morray. However, this could quickly escalate into a Romeo and Juliet scenario since the Morray clan, currently allies with the Carlyles, is said to be considering a move to side with Hock. This could mean that Forever and Joacquim could end up in battle despite their love for each other.
There is also a poker scene involving the Lazarus from the various families that introduces a couple of Lazarus that we haven’t encountered before the family summit – Mueller and Jiaolong Li. The two have a confrontation where Mueller accuses Li of cheating and Li shows himself to be exceptionally intelligent and observant. I like that we are seeing other families and the various different Lazarus of each family. It shows that in spite of the fact that relatively few families control the world, there is still a notable amount of diversity in those families.
There are many different significant scenes in Lazarus #13, so the pacing by Lark in his illustrations is really strong. Each scene takes exactly the right amount of time, so the issue keeps moving at a brisk pace, meaning that it covers a lot of scenes and plot. However, there is still a real emotional heart to Lazarus #13, especially relating to the romance between Forever and Joacquim. Lark gives each scene the right amount of character acting and narrative weight.
As the summit seems to be drawing to a key point, I expect we’ll see some dramatic elements in the next issue, especially based on Forever’s confrontation with Jonah. Seeing how Lazarus is a dystopia, too, I don’t expect the romance between Forever and Joacquim to work out how either of them wants.