The conclusion to the first story arc is here. If you haven’t been reading this series–seriously, what’s wrong with you?! That said, is it good?
Lucifer #5 (Vertigo Comics)
Per the official summary of the book:
Lucifer and Gabriel finally solve the murder of The Almighty-but they have differing opinions on the culprit! Either suspect’s guilt would have cosmic consequences. Who’s right and what might that mean for our Guardian Gumshoes? Find out in the concluding chapter of “Cold Heaven.”
Why does this book matter?
Holly Black knows how to tell a well paced story, but also how to deliver interesting, introspective character development. Considering she’s writing mostly ex-angels, that’s exciting! Meanwhile artist Lee Garbett has proven well adept at capturing lightning in a bottle with his layouts and always interesting character emotions.
This scene is fantastic!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The last issue ended on a cliffhanger and this one picks up right where it left off: smashingly. Lucifer and Gabriel face off against Azazel, a black shadow made up of red demon eyes, since he was let out of his bottle. Azazel is a horror to be sure, but Garbett infuses it with a bit of humorous character which is simply stunning. The man makes what is basically a flat mass of red and black character depth! This is of course also due to Black’s good dialogue. This sequence basically shows angels and demons couldn’t care less about humans or how you should act in public. As this series has shown, Black and Garbett have a way of instilling character elements whilst progressing the plot.
The issue actually checks in with two angels in heaven, Metatron and Raphael, who end up having a bigger part to play at the end of the issue. They have a clear authoritarian way about them that gives us a bit of insight into how Heaven is run. Their inclusion progresses the plot and ultimately helps reveal who murdered God, but it’s also yet another moment that fleshes out this world.
But what about the story? Does it wrap up? It does, and while I can’t speak for everyone I wasn’t that happy with who the culprit ends up being. No spoilers here folks, but it’s one of those reveals that makes you wonder why the character had to go on a journey at all. Black satisfies that to some extent by letting us know why Lucifer sent them on this goose chase (because he not only has his wings back but is healed too). I am however happy with how the issue ends as it promises some killer stories in the future. Gabriel and Lucifer both change by the end of this issue and promise to be that much more compelling when the next story arc begins.
Garbett continues to do great work on this title, with a fun half page action sequence that’s basically a collage of three actions that give the sense that a battle actually took place even though it lasts half the page. As I mentioned earlier Azazel is fantastic and really so good I think he could star in his own book, but only with Garbett’s art. The most important part of this book is a two page section that basically explains who did the murder. Garbett draws the characters in such a way to show they are larger than life, but also makes the reader know if you were paying attention as clues were right there in front of us. Whenever a flaming sword is on page Garbett will blow your mind with a fantastic use of color by Antonio Fabela.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Speaking of the larger than life flashback scene though, I wasn’t impressed with the first half battle. Apparently the angels fight amongst the stars, but the page reads more like a dump of information rather than a visually compelling sequence. It’s visually boring due to the background and not quite as detailed and interesting as pages before and after it, which left me wanting more.
When you give the story some thought, it’s clear Black was on a mission to develop these characters (a successful mission at that), but I don’t think the ideas behind Lucifer used Gabriel were hammered home strong enough. We’ve spent five issues basically seeing Lucifer drag Gabriel along and it’s a bit frustrating to find out he duped the reader too!
Is It Good?
While I’m not 100% satisfied with who the murderer is, there’s no question this book ends with the characters changed and more interesting because of this story. Like the best of stories it’s all about the journey, and this series is one hell of a journey that you’ll never want to end.