But for all of His mercies the Almighty is wrathful.
I have seen the wrath of God. The name Lazarus comes from the Aramaic. El’azar. “God is my help.”
I have seen the wrath of God in a Lazarus. And I had to look away. (~p.22)
Reviewing the fourth volume in a series is quite difficult without giving any spoilers, but here goes:
In the first volume of Lazarus, Family, we were introduced to the hierarchy of a near future world, where large territories are governed by Families, and each family has a Lazarus dedicated to their security. In the second volume, Lift, we learned more about the lower classes of Serfs and Waste. In the third, the focus returned to the Families as they met for a Conclave, each accompanied by their Lazarus. At the conclusion of Conclave, big changes had taken place. Poison follows soon after, as the Carlyle Family is in a dispute with the Family Hock over an important territory while still trying to deal with the other actions of Jakob Hock.
Poison opens with in “interlude” that focuses on the story of a nun whose medical mission is a cover for another, clandestine mission. Entering Hock territory reveals the brutality of Dr. Hock and his soldiers, as she struggles to complete her mission. This portion of the volume is made quite interesting with a variety of different artifacts giving a different feel and really capturing the reader’s attention. The majority of the narration is through Sister Bernard’s journal which helps create a sort of immediacy and very cleverly allows for quite a bit of exposition.
The main story-lines of this volume involve a stealth campaign to take Duluth, led by Forever, the Carlyle Lazarus. This is juxtaposed by the medical battle at the Carlyle’s compound and political maneuverings among the Carlyle Family members and, though less emphasized this time out, between the various Families.
Here are a few things that, along with the entirety of the beginning “interlude,” I liked about this fourth volume:
The artwork, other than as noted above, is consistent with previous volumes and in that regard it does not disappoint. Did I mention how much I liked the inclusion of Sister Bernard’s diary? Not just as text, but as a visual on the pages of the “interlude.”
Much of the focus returns to Forever Carlyle, my favorite character. It also sees the return of Casey Solomon. The Moray Lazarus, Joacquim, puts in an appearance or two. We see more of the Carlyle family dynamics, though I am unsure of the continuity of Johanna’s character without rereading the entire series so far.
I also liked seeing more of the relations between the different classes, though these were few and are not given much depth in treatment.
Although this was an enjoyable continuation of the story, it did not advance the story by much. The main focus was squarely on a mission to take control of Duluth. While this was well done, and added some excitement, it did turn much of the story into one long battle scene. There is really not much new to be learned this time out, leaving me a bit unsatisfied with it. However, there are a few twists and turns that really threw me, including a couple of events that leave me wanting more – now! A very good thing in a continuing series, though it makes it harder to wait for the next installment.
As with the previous volumes, this requires a high tolerance for the depiction of violence, blood, and gore. It also requires a tolerance for foul language, so fair warning. Thankfully nudity wasn’t a concern this time, but the other content leaves this as an adults only read.
Lazarus, Volume Four: Poison (issues 16-21), written by Greg Rucka, pencils by Michael Lark, inks by Michael Lark and Tyler Boss, colors by Santi Arcas | Image Comics, Inc, January 2016 | paperback, unnumbered, library copy