Lazarus: Cull (#22 – 26) – Greg Rucka

5 out of 5

This was the most synergistic arc of Lazarus yet, and such wonderful vindication of the kind of long-game structure Greg excels at when given the room and time to do -game structure Greg excels at when given the room and time to do work his magic.

Thus far, Lazarus, while frequently fascinating and expertly produced, has varied between world-building, puzzle-piece moving, and payoff.  This segregated format certainly has its highs, but it makes for dense reading – thus also rewarding rereads, but still, I’ll admit, that density can be a barrier to entry.

Cull, from the covers to the content to the back matter, feels as one, and the story within moves on so many gears at once that it can’t help but to be a page turner.  At the same time, Rucka moves forward with: Forever’s emotional development, as she weens herself off her meds and struggles with the discovery of her nature; lil’ Eight’s development, contrasting it with Forever’s fomenting rebellion; Joanna’s HOF struggles, and her surprising (or nefarious – time will tell!) line-in-the-sand approach to dealing with her Lazari sister; Carlyle’s Bittner-adopted Lazarus, Sonya, and her envelopment into the Carlyle net; all set against a thrilling backdrop of ‘the cull’ of the non-aligned families, particularly Rausling, with riveting step-by-step excerpts from the battle splashed oh-so-artistically into each issue by Michael Lark, Tyler Boss, and Santi Arcas.  The covers stage an intriguing cast of characters, hinting at upon whom that book will somewhat focus (with a frightening new player gracing issue 26’s cover), with the back content – ads from news coverage of events, underlining how in sync the whole arc felt – getting meta with it at the conclusion.  As the literal last page of the arc, it’s a great way of (again, literally) closing it out.  I’d call out people as unsung heroes – Jodi Wynne’s letters, Eric Trautman’s design, David Brother’s edits – but this book has been of such consistent quality that I can already name those folks by name without looking, so I think we’re all on the same page regarding the talent here.

Lazarus has already had great arcs.  It’s not that Cull is necessarily any greater, but it is an immensely tight, immensely satisfying arc, enriched by all that’s come before.