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After a somewhat slow issue in the previous installment of Lazarus, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark give us an exciting and intriguing follow-up with #7. The story was essentially divided into to two major parts: one following the Barrett family as they head towards the Carlyle “Lift” program and Forever as she deals with the young woman who seduced a couple of Carlyle guards so that her associates could steal supplies. While the Barrett storyline offered good action and the death of a character, it was Forever’s interrogation that would seem to impact upcoming stories in Lazarus the most.
The Barrett family, plus their neighbor’s daughter, Casey, are venturing through dangerous no man’s land in attempts to get to the Lift after their farm was destroyed by flooding. Generally, no one goes through a “no man’s land” in fiction without incident, and the cover to Lazarus #7 indicates the Barretts will be no different. As one might suspect, it’s not Casey who is lost but rather the Barrett’s daughter, Leigh. Father Joe Barrett is also shot in a shootout with bandits. However, Casey saves his life by gunning down the last outlaw. After burying Leigh, the clan then makes to a safe point, where a huge caravan of families is heading towards the Carlyle Lift.
Meanwhile, Forever is having difficulty cracking Emma, the woman taken after assisting the theft of Carlyle supplies. Forever gives us, while interrogating Emma, the reveal that the items taken could make a bomb. So this definitely seems like an insurgency against the Carlyle clan. Emma is confrontational towards Forever, telling her that she has nothing to lose that the Carlyles haven’t already taken. In a surprising move, Johanna, the Carlyle twin who had previously been plotting against Forever, takes the “good cop” approach, offering Emma privilege and even stardom if she reveals her associates. I like that Johanna is again showing her cleverness – but in a way that makes her more than simply a schemer.
I found this issue more effective than the previous because of its combination of action and intrigue. The foreboding environment of the no man’s land and the subsequent firefight was very well rendered by Michael Lark. I think the loss of Leigh Barrett is pretty inconsequential since she had not really been developed into a character readers cared about. I think her death would have been more affecting later after she’d been honed more. All of the Barretts, including the “adopted” Casey, need to be fleshed out more and hopefully Leigh’s death helps do that.
On the other side, the storyline regarding Emma is rather compelling. I feel like I know more and care more about Emma as a character in her one scene interacting with Forever than I do after three issues of the Barretts. Emma is daring and committed, though how committed remains to be seen after Johanna’s attempts to seduce her with a better future. It’s a smart move by Rucka: how do you get to someone who has nothing left to lose? Don’t threaten them, give them something. I’m curious about what Johanna’s next move will be.
One of the areas of comic book art that often gets overlooked is coloring. As great as Michael Lark’s pencils are in Lazarus #7, I thought that the colors by Santi Arcas contributed significantly, especially in lighting during the scenes of the Barretts. Arcas shows the various times of night, giving the scenes varying hues of purple, red, and blue, which not only let us know about the time of night/morning but also giving each scene a different emotional heft.
While I’m still not especially excited by the Barrett family, I am curious what awaits them at the Lift, where they will be fighting (figuratively or maybe literally) with many other families. Even more, though, I think the band of terrorists/revolutionaries and Emma could make for some really interesting upcoming stories. Maybe these will even connect with Forever’s mysterious texts in previous issues about her ties to the Carlyles.