Following the conclusion of “Lift” in issue #9, “Lazarus” #10 returns to the inter-Family politics seen in the series’ first arc. Though “Extraction” is a one-shot, it’s also a signpost for the upcoming “Conclave” arc, so it still feels like a natural, timely progression of the story. “Lazarus” almost completely shifted gears between “Family” and “Lift,” and some readers were thrown off, so inserting a midpoint issue before another similar shift is a smart move. Chilling and unrelenting, “Lazarus” #10 is a promising sign of things to come.
Jonah Carlyle hasn’t been seen since issue #4, when he was reportedly flying east toward Hock territory. Issue #10 reveals what happened to him once he arrived. Jonah’s humiliation and disillusionment take up the first fourteen pages of the issue, as he struggles to secure an audience with Jakob Hock. Rucka and Lark take him through the paces of dehumanization with devastating inevitability, if not particular subtlety. Again and again, Jonah is denied not only active control, but any bargaining power whatsoever. There is no negotiating in this world.
Of course, that doesn’t stop Jonah from trying. Lark and Level draw his expressions in cycles, taking him from smug to indignant to desperate and back again, as he learns again and again that his rules don’t apply here. Letterer Jodi Wynne makes intelligent use of the text to emphasize Jonah’s emotional progress as well, with his pleas getting smaller or more italicized as he’s less and less hopeful of them having any effect. (Admittedly, this is a pretty standard text treatment, but it’s particularly effective here because Jonah’s dialogue is so cyclic.)
As with all such stories, though, this process loses some of its dramatic power from being exploitative. I only need to see a man stripped and beaten for so many pages before I understand what’s going on. Fortunately, Rucka and Lark also integrate worldbuilding and scene-setting into the process, helping the reader to better understand life in Hock territory. Details such as how the Families influence the media or whether the Statue of Liberty still stands add texture to the story. They engaged me on another storytelling level, thereby keeping me interested.
“Extraction” is at its most interesting once Jonah gains his audience with Hock. This is the space where he should finally have some influence, but instead he simply has his powerlessness confirmed. Lark adds tension and interest to what is essentially a talking heads sequence, making great use of perspective to focus the reader’s eye on salient details. Thus saved from some of the burden of exposition, Rucka’s dialogue is crisper and quicker — making Jonah’s spiral toward subjection feel that much more unstoppable.
I won’t spoil too much, but their discussion reveals that the inter-Family feud is about more than resources and territory; it’s about the body. In many ways, that escalation makes a lot of sense. Once a person has every other material wealth, the next privilege he could desire, and therefore the next frontier of conflict, is health.
“Lazarus” #10 is well-placed to create anticipation for the upcoming “Conclave” arc. I’m fascinated to see what Jonah’s body is hiding that’s so valuable, and what the larger international Family political landscape — thus far only hinted at in the back material — looks like.