No one can doubt that the first few arcs of Action Comics were incredible. That said, this series suffers from one major problem: its timeline. From Against the Law to The Curse of Superman, the distinct lack of a smooth progression between the arcs made all of the arcs come across very disconnected. One of the main evidences for this is Kent’s constant shift between the shirt-jeans outfit to the Kryptonian suit.
Lazarus begins with Clark Kent being hunted down by the notorious hunter Maxim Zarov AKA Nimrod the Hunter. Zarov’s addition to the series gives Morrison the platform to establish some of Clark’s smallville days. After all, the Action Comics title is primarily about the young days of Superman which made this move not particularly surprising. I do believe that Zarov embodies the notion that there are people hunting down Superman which could have been a great story only if Zarov was truly the focus. As it turns out Lazarus opted to focus on multiple villains which only depreciated any value that Nimrod the Hunter could potentially have had for the story.
Lazarus primarily revolves Kal-El’s decision to kill off his alter ego Clark Kent due to his belief that he does more good as Superman than as a reporter. Raising the question of identity is one that all teenagers have to go through at some point in their life which allows the younger readers to feel more connected to this story. In my opinion, this is one of the main highlights of the arc as it shows a more human aspect of Superhero – that he is also prone to making wrong and regrettable decisions at times.
Taking on a mysterious new villain, Captain Comet, Lazarus manages to pave the way for the introduction of the upcoming villain, who presumably has something to deal with Mister Mxyzptlk, without compromising the integrity of the main story. From the beginning of the series, I have constantly mentioned the presence of this mysterious guy that seems to appear at random times in the arcs. It stands to reason that he could be a villain due to the natural demeanour of his character.
With so many things going on, Morrison manages to control the flow of the story to ensure that each moment can comfortably stand strongly on its own. For instance, Superman performing surgery on Lois to save her life as well as his struggle to deal with his humanity, while independent, manages to be seamlessly attached to each other in Lazarus. Furthermore, what I loved most about this book is that it showcased the relationship between Bruce and Kal. Out of all the justice league members, he chose to confide in batman. While it was merely a glimpse of how close they actually are, it was really fun to witness.
Lazarus certainly has impressive sub stories that really captures the essence of teenage struggle, however, the numerous villains did make it feel rather messy and lack-luster.