Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have given readers everything they could possibly need in "Lazarus" #3. There's political intrigue, action, conspiracies, a dystopian near-future, genetic manipulation and maybe even a little hint of romance. More importantly, everything here is executed so expertly that this is a near-perfect comic.
Rucka and Lark open "Lazarus" #3 with a scene that does a lot of legwork in its five pages. It (re-)establishes Forever Carlyle and her position as the Lazarus of the Carlyle Family with all that entails. A bit more is revealed about Family Morray's Lazarus, Joacquim. There's an example of the difference between a Family member and a Serf that serves the Family, as well as between Serf and Waste, and just how large the power gulf between the castes truly is. The importance of a Lazarus is also emphasized, what the presence of one will do to others, and what a Family's general approach to a foreign Lazarus is. There's also a bit of action mixed in, if that's not enough. All of this, in just five pages, and not a single panel is wasted.
That's how "Lazarus" works in a nutshell. Every scene has a purpose, every panel, every word. But at the same time, this isn't hard work to read; you're not being lectured at by Rucka. This is engaging and attention-grabbing; the conspiracies within Carlyle Family are growing, and we see in this issue just how ruthless they can be. I also like that we're continuing to get little glimpses into Eve's life, both in how the different members of Carlyle Family view her and also how she conducts her own existence. She's a good lead, and Rucka makes "Lazarus" primarily her story even as the other Families play their own role.
Lark's art (with some ink assists from Stefano Gaudino and Brian Level) looks great as ever. I love the "don't mess with me" level-headed look that Eve gives the Sergeant at Morray Family when he oversteps his boundaries; it's dangerous even as on the surface it could be mistaken for irritation. All of the characters look and react to things like real people, and his control of body language is second to none here. Backgrounds are beautifully rendered, too; the porch scene at Family Morrey's estate could have just been the porch and left at that, but I love that Lark took the time to draw what lies beyond the railing and pillars, creating a more realistic landscape. Add in a lot of good progression from one panel to the next (especially by using tight reaction shots on people's faces) and we end up with a winner.
"Lazarus" #3 is outstanding. It's smart and clever, it's beautifully drawn, and it slowly ratchets up the tension from one scene to the next. Where do we go from here? What's in store for Eve and the rest of Carlyle Family? I love that the possibilities are endless. Rucka and Lark have created an amazing comic that demands your attention from start to finish. I'm already eagerly awaiting the next issue. This is, easily, one of the best new series of the year.