"Lazarus" #9 wraps up "Lift," the second storyline in Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Brian Level's science-fiction dystopia series. And as before, one of the things I appreciate the most about this series is that it's not only an action/adventure/political drama, but it also does an amazing job of world-building.
There's something horrible and creepy about the world of "Lazarus," with the divisions between the Family, Serfs and Waste. As a result, it's both exciting and depressing to see Rucka guide us through the Lift Selection process, as the hordes of people designated Waste desperately try to get upgraded to Serf status. Rucka's given readers enough time with Joe, Bobbie, and Michael Barret to want to see Michael as well as Casey Solomon get the desperately-needed upgrade from Waste to Serf. But as we start to see just how many people are trying to get that rise in social status, and how incredibly picky the selection process is... well, it's hard to get too excited. Rucka lays it all out for us in a dispassionate way, and we get to learn firsthand just what can get you eliminated from the process in the blink of an eye.
But then again, this is hardly something new for "Lazarus." This is an unforgiving world, and if the viewpoint is Forever Carlyle, another Family member from Carlyle, or a Serf, you can't help but feel like everyone's tangled up in a world where it's hard for them to make any difference whatsoever. The highest members of the Family truly do rule the world, and even those immediately connected to them are slaves... the only difference is what level slavery they're situated.
Along those lines, the conclusion of the flashbacks for the young Forever training is impressive; we know that she succeeds if only for the fact that she is around in the present day, after all. But having been put in a truly awful position on what she needs to do, it's refreshing to see her find a way to fulfill what she's been asked to do while still making it the least horrific path. She's a smart woman, and here we're reminded that she was also a smart girl as she grew up. If anyone can find a way to break through the labyrinth that is the world of "Lazarus," it's Forever.
Lark and Reber's art is, as always, stunning. They do an excellent job of drawing realistic, lifelike people but without them coming across as stiff or posed. The scared look on Forever as she faces off in a duel against Marisol is poignant, and the scattering of autumn leaves brings to mind gorgeously filmed Akira Kurosawa movies. In the present day, the sprawl of the Waste camping out to enter Lift Selection is almost heartbreaking; it's like a tailgating event where the sport is depression. The visuals make the struggles in "Lazarus" come to life in a way that takes Rucka's ideas and makes them even more horrific and downtrodden than merely words would have provided.
"Lazarus" #9 is an excellent wrap-up to one of the best ongoing series being published right now. While it's not a great place to leap into the end of a second storyline, trust me, you need to start reading this book. Because wherever it goes next? I can all but guarantee you, it's going to be enthralling.