Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Michael Lark
Unlike the entire last arc of Lazarus, issue #16 is exceptionally slow moving, and does little to advance the main plot or the arcs of any of the main characters. That being said, issue #16 does tell an engaging enough side story to make it worth a read for fans of the series. After last issue’s gripping cliffhanger, it is a bit jarring to spend an entire issue that does little to follow up on those events. But, as with other filler-issues and arcs, it really is quite hard to level that as a significant critique against a book that’s just this good.
The entire issue is essentially formatted as a journal entry written by one of the nuns. We have seen this group of people (and I think the character that this issue revolves around) before, back in the Lift arc. The main character in this issue is fairly interesting, though the format does lead to the issue being exposition heavy. So much so, in fact, that there are 2-3 pages devoted solely to blocks of text written on a journal. Mostly, this provides insight into the world (specifically Hock’s region of influence), building it out even further.
These journal entries are interspersed with brief character bits for our “hero.” Unfortunately, she never seems to have a true voice. The rare occasions that her character does shine through, there are hints at a dynamic individual, grappling with her beliefs in the dystopian future of Lazarus. Based on the way this book ends, we will be seeing more of her – at least for the next issue or two. The events of this book essentially make her character disposable, and ensure she will not be around for long, but the character definitely has some potential.
In addition to some issue with the main character, this issue also seems to meander quite a bit without actually going anywhere. As I said earlier, the exposition is well written, and far from boring. That being said, it often feels like the issue could have moved at a far brisker pace than it actually did. Hey, at least the art is gorgeous. Michael Lark does a great job with every aspect of the book – from human made constructs to natural environments to the characters themselves.
Lazarus #16 is far from the most exciting instalment of Rucka and Lark’s dystopian masterpiece. What it is, however, is a solid side story, one that could be further developed in the main series. It’s very clearly 30-odd pages of set up and exposition, but that’s not inherently a bad thing when it comes to Lazarus. And when I’m willing to forgive those two elements, you know that a book is really, really good.