The most popular character outside of the title character in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman is back in more ways than one. Not only with his own book, but also back from a long journey in the story as well. The question remains: how do you make one of the biggest villains in history likeable enough to carry a book? And, of course, is it good?
Lucifer #1 (DC Comics)
This book opens with Lucifer coming back to Earth and wreaking havoc the minute he arrived. He’s not intending for this to happen, but with his return children have decided to take over candy stores, actresses are killing directors and sharks are roaming close to shores. The guy gives off bad juju. His arrival isn’t even the point of this book though, and there’s a much bigger issue at hand.
Why does this book matter?
Apparently novelists are all the rage when it comes to writing comic books these days and this is another as Holly Black is famous for her writing on The Spiderwick Chronicles. A novelist is sure to get inside a character’s head very well which is intriguing when you consider Lucifer is the title character. The bigger story is quite something too as it involves God and a murder mystery.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Right out of the gate Black does a fantastic job setting up what is going on with Earth and the scene is set very well. There’s a bit of chaos afoot and we soon learn it’s going on in other realms including Heaven. While it’s not yet certain, Black appears to be setting up a plot that involves the buddying up of Lucifer and ex-angel Gabriel. The characters square off a bit here and it’s very easy to see their relationship is going to be dynamic.
Their meeting is actually a surprise but also a strength of this issue as things zoom by very quickly. While the opening takes its time to show us the world reacting to Lucifer’s return we quickly bounce from learning where Gabriel has been, to heaven, a critical bar room scene and finally Hell itself. While the speed hurts the read here and there (we’ll get to that in a second), overall it makes this very enjoyable as it’s hard to ever feel bored. Dislike a scene? Don’t worry, scenes go down pretty quick!
Artist Lee Garbett does a great job rendering the characters and he has a tough job with this one—from cat creatures to demons, there are a variety of types to be drawn. On top of this he infuses characters with interesting details like peacock wings on one angel, or an interesting cacophony of demons who join Lucifer his Ex Lux club. The fact that Garbett can make Lucifer look casual and natural with giant wings poking out of his suit is a testament to his skill.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m not sure as it hasn’t been that important yet, but Black name drops quite a few angels and creatures. This made me confused, as if I had missed a previous issue. One can argue this adds value to the read since you can probably look these names up and find them in the Bible, but it did make the reading a bit more unfamiliar than it probably needed to be.
The pace of the comic does hinder things a bit as well, as the comic appears to spend a good deal of time on a demon who claims to know Lucifer, yet we never see them again. Lorin Hammon is briefly met (again, the name is dropped as if we know him) then revisted again later but his story arc is rather vapid since no time is spent with him beyond these briefest of scenes. The most obvious problem of the pacing is the lack of character for Gabriel. He’s quickly written off as some kind of alcoholic schlub yet he’s being tasked with one of the most important jobs in all creation. Why? No time is really spent to tell us.
You’ve got creepy friends dude.
Is It Good?
A satisfying opening salvo to a mystery that encapsulates time and space. If you have any interest in Biblical stories Lucifer should not be missed.