Lazarus: Risen #2 which would have been Lazarus #30 under the original numbering delivers some interesting developments and satisfying moments. While Lazarus: Risen #2 is only second in the new quarterly format for the series, there is a distinct change in pacing from even Lazarus: Risen #1 which is both a good and a bad thing. Regardless, this series is still one of the best comics to come out right now and the opening pages of Lazarus: Risen #2 demonstrates why.
Joacquim Versus Forever
The first twenty-five or so pages of Lazarus: Risen #2 is a fight. Not just any fight, but a fight of great emotional weight due to everything set up in the series so far. Zaferino Cardoso, the D’Souza family Lazarus, has requested a meeting with Forever. The D’Souza’s are in an alliance with the Morray’s and they too have sent their Lazarus to this meeting. Joacquim Morray was Forever’s on again and off again love interest as established all the way back in the first Lazarus arc “Family”. In Lazarus #26, Joacquim’s cybernetic implants took over and forced him to betray the woman he loves. Then, in the spin-off miniseries Lazarus X+66, the decision was made to permanently erase Joacquim’s individual personality and make him a puppet that they can pull the stings of.
This isn’t just a fight between multiple Lazari, which we have seen before. This is a fight between three of the most powerful people on the planet, and two of them used to love each other. But the sad truth of it is that only one of those two still has those feelings. Joacquim is nothing but a shell. That doesn’t negate the impact of what Forever is forced to do. She has to fight in order to survive. She may very well have to kill the thing that possesses the face of the man she loves.
This moment has had a big impact on her. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark make sure to linger on this exact moment and show Forever slowly breaking down as a result of what she was forced to do. This is a touching moment. It also parallels another epic fight in the series between Forever and her best friend Sonya.
What The Pacing & Silence Say About The Characters
I have said it for many years. Ever since Lazarus started, the pacing of it is more akin to a TV series as opposed to the traditional pacing of a comic book. Greg Rucka is a master of character-driven, slow-paced storytelling. Lazarus: Risen #2 may have a longer page count, but it feels like very little is happening. However, upon further inspection, Rucka is balancing so many important character beat through the pure lack of words. Michael Lark’s incredibly expressive art style helps the story’s pacing be fun to read, without it seeming like it’s going at a snail’s pace.
Rucka mentions in the letter pages of Lazarus: Risen #2 that he is still getting used to the longer page count in this quarterly format. While I think the higher page count gives a chance for Rucka’s unique storytelling style to really shine and show the strengths of his collaborators as well as the medium, it does show that he is still figuring it out. The twenty-five or so pages of fighting are intense, energetic, and amazing to read. The excellent fight choreography helps with this, much like all fights in this series.
However, they accomplished the same feeling with fewer pages back in the “Conclave” arc with the Sonya versus Forever fight. This is not to diminish Lazarus: Risen #2 at all. As a lot happens in silence and slow pacing. The small scene where Malcolm goes to visit his wife and hesitates to knock on the door is incredibly subtle. But says so much without a single word being on the panels. It’s a unique problem and situation for Lazarus. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying the ride as Rucka delivers excellent character moments in this manner.
Lazarus: Risen #2 Proves That Lazarus Is Changing, But For The Better
Lazarus: Risen #2 is a satisfying issue in one of the best comics to be coming out currently. Full of emotional moments, energetic action, and thoughtful commentary all at the same time, proves just how good Greg Rucka and Michael Lark are at their job. Plus, that short story at the end by Adam Christopher does some clever subversions of expectations that fit the world of Lazarus perfectly. I can’t wait for the next issue in a few months. Family above all!