Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Brian Level, and Santi Arcas deliver another stunning issue of "Lazarus" #7. The series has hit the mid-point of the story, where some creators might get lazy knowing that readers will probably hang on for the conclusion. Not so with this creative team -- they take this moment to just strengthen everything; to raise stakes, create layers and remind readers that nothing is sacred, not even hope.
Rucka continues absolutely exceptional character building (and even more impressive world building) that does not require page upon page of voice-over narration. None of Rucka's characters have to lay everything out over endless pages of exposition because the writer simply shows, making his story is all the more powerful. Rucka shows readers in the little things, like cleverly using the word "lift" until what it means is completely clear, as is what the B-story characters are attempting. The way the A- and B-stories don't intersect but still manage to inform one another is masterful.
"Lazarus" #7 continues some of the flashback to a young Forever Carlyle, which continues to reveal the hard way in which she was raised, what it did to her, and how she managed to retain parts of herself despite it all, setting up what will be some very interesting "come to Jesus" moments. Rucka also shows off Forever's weakness in this issue (without ever calling it weakness) as her sister Johanna asks to "interrogate" a prisoner and does so in an ingenious way that would likely never occur to Forever but is second nature to the scheming Johanna.
Lark's work, with an assist from Brian Level, continues to be strong. He does a particularly lovely job in this issue in contrasting scenes. Forever's scenes, both in the past and in the present -- are all sharp, clean, controlled and relatively well-lit. By contrast, the B-story following the Barretts (and one Solomon) as they fight their way through nature (and worse) to the Selection are rougher edged, darker, more raw and loose in every way. The contrast lends a wonderful depth to the book, the kind of layers that so many comics can't even aspire to, let alone execute.
Colorist Santi Arcas' evocative colors are gorgeous yet again, but more importantly, he continues to light a scene like nobody's business. Flipping through the book, just glancing at the tones as they shift feels like a whole other way to read the issue, just through mood. There's a magnificent understanding of light -- whether it's the sickly fluorescents of an interrogation room, the glow of a lonely campfire, the artificial hum of a lantern or the oppressiveness of a rainstorm that never lets up. It's all sublimely realized.
"Lazarus" is a book that just gets better and better as it builds up the kind of layers to characters and world building that all comics should strive for. The depth is rich and the emotion is palpable, and I'm on the edge of my seat for what's next.