writer: Greg Rucka / artist: Michael Lark and Tyler Boss w/ Owen Freeman & Eric Trautmann / Image Comics
One of the reasons that Lazarus is my favorite comic book out (yes, I say that without flinching) is because in addition to the the incredible marriage of ideas, writing and art, it also is one of the most unique books out. Even when the book moves slower through heavier dialogue and text driven issues, the storytelling is amazingly efficient. This issue however, is probably their most experimental to date.
Following the amazing issue #15, that saw Forever and Sonja Bittner square off in accordance with the Hock / Carlyle conflict, things are in complete disarray now. Hock lost the trial, but played sore loser and poisoned Poppa Carlyle on his way out the door and insured a war was being declared. Now, we jump to a character we spent time with during the “Lift” storyline, Sister Bernard. The Nun and Physician has had her duties amended from typical travel between territories administering care. She actually has a mission from the Carlyle family that includes espionage and smuggling while deep inside Hock territory. There are some great twist and turns in the story, so I don’t want to spoil them, but by issue’s end, Sister Bernard has become the most important person in the Lazarus universe, something that was truly unexpected.
What is different about this issue is that the storytelling is done through a variety of mediums, mostly text driven. Where, I’ve praised this book previously because of the storytelling it can accomplish strictly through images, this issue goes the other way. By use of Sister Bernard’s diary, intelligence briefings and archival documents; background and story are told and give a 360 degree field of knowledge of what is happening and why it’s important. It is a risk, for sure, to rely this heavily on text that appear outside of typical narration of dialogue. There are action sequences however that break that up and at times synch up with the storytelling beautifully, especially near the end of the issue.
Even with this method of storytelling, the art is still on point, per usual. The additional artist were brought in for the archival type pages, and saturation of text aside, they still are done beautifully.
Lazarus takes a big gamble this month with a style that not everyone will take to in a weekly comic book. Regardless, the story it tells is masterful and engaging, setting up the next arc and giving a huge wrinkle to the war we knew was coming.