"Lazarus" #14 is the fourth installment in a five-part story, "Conclave," and that places it squarely in the traditional "setting up the conclusion" position. In many ways, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss's story holds no surprises -- it follows through on the promise of the previous issue's cliffhanger even as it delivers some much needed information to Forever Carlyle -- but it's still a satisfying segment in the overall story.
After last month's cliffhanger, where Forever is ordered to kill her captive brother Jonah, there's nothing in this issue that will surprise readers too much. Jonah is, after all, the only other person who knows the truth about Johanna's involvement in the coup; it's a piece of information that was planted too carefully by Rucka early in "Lazarus" to go undiscovered. With "Lazarus" being as much about Forever's slow understanding of not only her own true nature but that of the Carlyle family, it's a seed that had to sprout eventually.
Even with the predictability here, it's still enjoyable. Rucka's writing of Forever Carlyle is entertaining in no small part because she's not the bull in the china shop that the rest of House Carlyle thinks she is; she's much more cunning (even in her occasional ignorance) than anyone gives her credit, so watching her take control of her surroundings even in the most minute of manners is an important step forward for her. Of course, watching the various Families jockey for position in the Conclave has been good political drama, with a mixture of business acquisitions and old school feudal rules ultimately forming the society that governs the planet. The conclusion to this issue wouldn't have half the impact that it holds if we hadn't seen all of the Lazari together last issue; they're all in their own Families but, in this strange and slightly off-putting world that Rucka's created for them, he's formed a unique subclass that has them all sharing a certain bond between one another.
Lark and Boss's art is up to its usual standards with very high amounts of detail and a strong focus on realism. Lark's pages remind me in many ways of movie storyboards; he pays careful attention to what the reader should see to help control the suspense and give us just the right reveals. Look at the first page, which starts with an establishing shot of Triton One before moving us slowly down the hallway and to the opening hatch; we don't actually see Forever until halfway through the page. It would have been easy to start by giving us the image of her up above from the start, but Lark illustrates the more suspenseful way of telling this scene with her graceful landing in the hallway and careful examination of her surroundings so that we instantly understand that she's in a dangerous situation. Lark and Rucka's collaborations have always worked well, and this issue is no exception.
"Lazarus" #14 might not jump out and surprise anyone, but it doesn't need to either. It's satisfying, it's an important part of both "Conclave" and "Lazarus" overall and it gets the series right where it needs to be for the conclusion of this story arc next month. "Lazarus" continues to entertain and captivate.