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In the last issue of Lazarus, readers got their first look at the “Waste” of the world of this comic. The majority of people in this reality are considered Waste, except for the wealthy, powerful families and their servants. Writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark continue developing the picture of the Waste in Lazarus #6 as well as showing us a bit more of Forever Carlyle’s “childhood.” The art continues to be fantastic, and we are slowly getting a bigger scope of this world. This issue, and the series overall, does seem to be very slow to make reveals, but it’s still altogether very interesting.
The Waste that Rucka and Lark introduced us to in issue #5 was a family called the Barretts (parents Joe and Bobbie and their children Michael and Leigh). They farm for the wealthy Carlyle clan but do not own their land. When a flood devastates their home and farm, they face difficult decisions. In this issue, they learn that they can receive assistance but it would severely cut down their income. Since the Barretts are already in debt, they decide this isn’t an option. They are going to move on, relinquishing any claim to their property and head out into no man’s land, trying to make it to Denver to become part of the “Lift,” where they could become direct servants of the Carlyle family.
What we’ve seen of the Barretts so far portrays the hardship they’ve had to endure – and it does seem like a difficult existence. I don’t really feel like we’ve seen much personality out of them yet, though. At this point, they seem like good people, but that’s all I can tell about them. Hopefully, we will get to know them more to differentiate them from generic “good victims.” I’d like the story to let us into their personalities.
Back with in the world of Forever Carlyle, she is dealing with a number of issues. Some members of her family have tried to kill her and she has received a mysterious text claiming that the Carlyle clan is not her real family. Both of these events seem to have upset the calm balance that Forever normally carries. She’s still quite capable, but mentally she seems distracted. The issue also starts with another flashback to Forever’s younger life and early training.
I was hoping that after the intriguing text to Forever in the last issue that this story thread would continue in issue #6, but there’s not that much development on that front. This brings me to one of my few complaints about Lazarus overall. It can be a slow moving series. I know that “slow burn” storytelling is popular in comics (and other mediums) and it can be really powerful, but it does run the risk of frustrating readers. I don’t think raising an interesting suspenseful mystery (like who sent Forever the text) should necessarily be withheld for issues at a time. It’s similar to the development of the Barretts. I’m not saying that storylines in Lazarus should be instantaneously concluded or revealed, but I do think it could feel a little more continuous and less deliberate about what information is given to readers.
Michael Lark contributes another great issue of illustrations to Lazarus. In issue #6, perhaps because there were fewer battles and less screaming, there seem to be more opportunity for him to add subtle expressions to the characters’ faces, and the way he does this is consistently engaging. Whether it’s a look of angry disbelief on Forever’s face or one of concerned fear on the Barrett children, there’s a great deal of strong “acting” by Lark’s characters.
All told, this is a very solid issue of Lazarus, with more of the light being shown on the Waste people, especially the Barretts. I’m hopeful that we get to see each of them come into their own, although the preview for #7 implies something bad will happen to them while out on the road. Forever continues to be a great character, but I’m eager to see her pursue her connections to the Carlyles, and the mysterious text. Hopefully, this storyline will build in the near future.