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REVIEW: ‘Lazarus #21′ Gives the Bitter Cure

 
Lazarus 21 cov
Lazarus 21 cov
Lazarus 21 cov

 
Overview
 

Story by: Greg Rucka
 
Art by: Michael Lark
 
Colors by: Santi Arcas
 
Publisher:
 
FG RATING
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/ 5


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To sum it all up..

Greg Rucka and Michael Lark never ever cease to amaze us because they really know how to pull some uncanny surprises in this concluding chapter of POISON in LAZARUS #21. Their collaborative effort, alongside with some of the amazing colors of Santi Arcas, continues to transcend beyond some of our wildest expectations, to some point making this series distinctively […]

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Posted December 30, 2015 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

Lazarus 21 covGreg Rucka and Michael Lark never ever cease to amaze us because they really know how to pull some uncanny surprises in this concluding chapter of POISON in LAZARUS #21. Their collaborative effort, alongside with some of the amazing colors of Santi Arcas, continues to transcend beyond some of our wildest expectations, to some point making this series distinctively as its own, going out the shadows of being the so-called futuristic Game of Thrones but retains the medieval feel nonetheless. Medieval in the sense that the dominating clans/families are the true masters, movers, manipulators, and deciders of human existence, and this series is what the possible dystopian tale likes to point out beyond the technological and other geopolitical advances made, alongside with Greg’s penchant of presenting a very strong female character in the representation of Forever.

Lazarus #21 is an almost perfect balance of action-driven plot and the internal political maneuvering that the writer demonstrates by virtually balancing three plots: the preparation of the final assault and the actual commencement led by the Lazarus herself while showing how the youngest member of the prominent family successfully takes over clan through cunning and surprisingly, displaying the same characteristics the poisoned patriarch, who is still literally at death’s doors, possesses which could have attributed to his rise as one of the most dominating and powerful personalities in the world.  Personally, I am glad that this issue is a solid 40-page story that includes the creative team’s announcements, the Carlyle family profile, particularly the head’s background and rise to power, and some interesting fan letters that read engagingly intelligent and discursively entertaining; while it is still reasonably priced!

Story-wise, Greg presents the de-sanitized version of war by highlighting the weariness and vulnerabilities of the combatants, and the people behind the war room whose primary objective is to win no matter what are the dire consequences. The dialogues between the Lazarus and her second-in-command are very poignant, if not honest. The latter’s expressions are felt genuine and she actually displays her utmost concerns to her boss. Even when things get to worse, the soldiers’ respective utterances are viscerally natural, proving that not all troops clamor for bloodshed, gore, and death. Naturally, Forever’s characterization is once again taken precedence here because Greg likes to showcase her subtle transformation from a one-woman army to an equally concern ground leader who actually takes the most punishing punishments to complete this rather suicidal mission. On the other hand, Greg loves to present how women are really capable, especially during the worse case scenarios. He literally toys the ancient mantra, for every man’s success there is a woman behind, to another level. He does that by a complete turnaround of one of the most despicable characters into a decisive and convincing leader when the supposed heir apparent is anything but cunning. Before judging that this sudden change of leadership is akin to Game of Throne’s infamous father-and-son relationship, history actually provides us precedence of that kind of takeover, to some extent, the women’s role of guiding and influencing the actions of the so-called man’s playthings—politics, war and governance. Moreover, some characters continue to shine as the writer wants as much possible to give a sense of balance to almost every cast around. And the ending is quite bewildering; but logically feasible and credible if one continues to read carefully Greg’s latest readings on the advancement of DNA in the letter column. Due to the overall intensity of this Poison story arc, I am already pumped out for the next one, aptly named The Cull.

Michael Lark and Santi Arcas are really heaven-sent in their respective artistic executions ever. Lark’s drawings and inks are grandiosely gritty and gruesome because the story really suits these descriptions, and the primary artist leaves no marks of sanity here in portraying war and battles. Even in the comforts of the Carlyle residence is subliminally dark to paradoxically illuminate the gravity the said family confronts internally and externally, especially the facial portrayals of the elder children, whose mindsets are revealed to be more vulnerable than the youngest one. Back to Lark’s drawings in the battlefront, his accuracies of almost details are astounding, to the tank design up to the base’s interiors. Weapons used are exceptionally realistic. His command of pacing the story is also remarkable because he portrays femme fatale’s close-quartered attacks as grounded as possible, warts and all, virtually nothing superhero theatrics here except the character’s genetic and physiological augmentations . This is very evident in his silent illustrations of the leading protagonist’s penetration into the base’s interiors and the command center. No thought balloons are necessary here, and his detailed works speak volume on his ever evolving panel sequential comprehension ever. And the blood and gore are flowing freely to the point of destruction. Arcas’s coloring greatly enhances Lark’s striking illustrations on the panels that focus on the battlefronts. His technique even heightens the emotional projections of the characters’ faces before and during the confrontations, even in the ICU scenes where anxieties are obvious. Both artists Lark and Arcas are a real artistic two-hit powerful combo right now.

Criticisms aside since I already highlighted here, Lazarus #21 concludes another intriguing tale of family and war, with surprising shocks and surprises that top-caliber writers like Greg Rucka can execute with finesse. Well-balanced in storytelling, this issue delivers some unflattering truths that are still evident in today’s geopolitical landscape—war is brutal whatever embellishments are laid on, and whatever gender one could be, the cunning, the determined and the strategic minded type can influence the overall outcome. The name Poison deserves well here, not only in the most literally sense but the overarching repercussions it can influence to the future arcs after this one, particularly the femme fatale herself.


Paul Ramos

 


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