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Lucifer #2 review: A tale of love, deception, memory, and ornate statues

Comic Books

Lucifer #2 review: A tale of love, deception, memory, and ornate statues

As Lucifer inches toward the truth, the past and future swirl together for an intriguing slice of theater.

About Last Night: In an emotionally potent debut, we found a defeated, disheveled Lucifer plotting his escape from a prison dimension. (Think rustic Victorian villa, not fiery hellscape.) Whereas I focused more on narrative trajectory and the abundance of sentiment, one essential revelation was Caliban, the morose, stone-faced son of Lucifer (either biologically or in perception — remember that for later). In the real world, Caliban serves as the caretaker for the Gately House, a sober living home where our secondary protagonist – LAPD Detective John Decker – comes in search of answers surrounding the mysterious death of his wife, Penny. (As such, he knew the deceased Mrs. Decker.) Caliban also “exists” in the dimension Lucifer is held, with our bearded protagonist digging up a statue of his brood at the end of #1. All of which begs oodles of questions: what’s it all mean, where is Lucifer, and if we believe Caliban is behind Lucy’s imprisonment, why?

Love You, Pops: With issue #2, we creep closer and closer to understanding the Lucifer-Caliban story (and, by extension, the entire enchilada). The two have a meeting toward the issue’s finale, lingering though a big ol’ cloud of emotional disconnect before the requisite shocking finale. (Spoilers: Caliban’s mother, the witch Sycorax, is/was held in some special chamber by Lucifer and not, as her son had believed, totes dead.)

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Even more questions arise, and the father-son dynamic is clearly a uniting factor for the many, many story threads at play here. It could well be that Caliban blames Lucifer for Sycorax’s tortured existence, and that’s enough to kick him into action. Beyond actually providing answers , there’s no denying the inherent deliciousness of father-son drama. That sort of grief and subtle feuding may well be the true beating heart of this story, especially given something Detective Decker hints at with his own powerful monologue.

Lucifer #2 review: A tale of love, deception, memory, and ornate statues

DC Vertigo

Getting Deep with Decker: In the first issue, I noted that Decker’s story is by and far the more intriguing and immediately rewarding of the various story elements. The detective is deeply heartbroken, and stumbling into a bizarre world he doesn’t quite understand. He’s certainly an important, profoundly human chain in this series, a point of reference as the world begins to churn in many directions. In issue #2, Decker learns of a tumor causing reality-smashing hallucinations, an illness crucial in his immersion into the greater story. (Or, he believes them to be hallucinations.)

But more importantly, he delivers an effective soliloquy about Penny while drunkenly sitting outside Gately House. He mentions this idea of never truly knowing someone, and how all we can do is love the person as we knew them. This has huge emotional implications for the Caliban-Lucifer dynamic: they’re also family who don’t have all the pieces of the other’s puzzle, and that back-and-forth could push the story and provide payoff down the line. Either way, it’s Decker who serves as a central emotional lightning rod, helping generate the sadness among the boundless insanity. Decker doesn’t just bridge gaps; he makes you care about that essential narrative connections.

Read A Book: Issue #1 featured an important reference to The Tempest (where a group of performers act out and dance to key narration from the Shakespeare play). Both Caliban and Sycorax are derive from that play, a monstrous son and his witchy mother living on an island. It’s no coincidence, either, and Shakespeare is a frequent element of Neil Gaiman’s early Sandman stories. This time, writer Dan Watters uses Shakespearean tidbits to set a mood and build the world.

Lucifer #2 review: A tale of love, deception, memory, and ornate statues

DC Vertigo

A huge chunk of this second issue involves Lucifer reuniting three witches, a la the Weird Sisters from Macbeth. The fact that the two remaining witches appear in Lucifer’s prison has greater meaning (more on that later). Beyond that, referencing The Tempest provides a chance to further the story’s nougaty core of father complexes. Tempest is certainly play about power dynamics (Caliban vs. the smug Prospero), which plays nicely into the Caliban-Lucifer dynamic. At the same time, magic is a huge narrative device: there are lots of weird noises on the island, and Decker is nearly crippled by screaming at Gately House (likely emanating from Sycorax’s skull — dun dun duuun!)

Lastly, drowning — a form of slow, deliberate suffering — is a huge part of Tempest (duh, the title). Both in that it happens frequently (an analogy, perhaps, of Lucifer’s Sisyphean effort to escape) and in mere perception (as how Caliban believed his mommy dearest had died and the trauma that undoubtedly caused). No matter how it ultimately plays out, these droplets of purer drama color the story and ground it in a tradition of supernatural delights and dense emotional interplay.

More and More: Reading both issues is enough to build a solid foundation of understanding. Ultimately, though, perhaps the most exciting part of this story is not knowing, but the resulting emotional fallout. There’s a part in the story — more spoilers ahead — where we learn, rather cavalierly at that, who exactly built Lucifer’s prison: He did himself. (That’s either physically or metaphorically. Or both. ::Shrug::.)

While that’s an important revelation, its abrupt placement in the story helps contextualize it within the greater narrative. Which is, now that you know A Thing, watcha gonna do about it? How does it make you reevaluate events or characters? What value does it have (or even subtract) from the title? Why do you feel the way you do, and can you control the way these threads shape your experience? We’re all masters of our fates and yet still lowly pawns, and things shake out in ways we can’t comprehend. That’s true no matter who we are, and it’s a lesson that seems central to this exciting new chapter of the Lucifer canon.

Lucifer #2
Is it good?
As Lucifer inches toward the truth, the past and future swirl together for an intriguing slice of theater.
Details and emotions roll in slowly to build a dense, intriguing tale.
The use of flashbacks disrupts the narrative in deeply interesting ways.
Plenty of great ideas and influences culling together.
The payoff isn't always immediate (or necessarily all that juicy).

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