Holly Black is no longer writing Lucifer, but before you get too sad know that Richard Kadrey is probably the best writer for the job–he has experience writing all kinds of stories around Hell via his Sandman Slim series (seriously, look it up). We check out his first try at Lucifer–the series’ 14th overall–is it good?
Lucifer #14 (Vertigo Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
Welcome to a grave new world. Heaven and Hell are in expert hands as New York Times best-selling author and dark fantasy veteran Richard Kadrey grabs LUCIFER by the horns in his first full-length issue of many more to come. Now’s the time to get on board as series favorites get a twisted fresh start and make the acquaintance of some new black hearts.
Why does this book matter?
With Kadrey is Lee Garbett, the artist who has been on this series from the start, who is quite capable to say the least. His ability to create a mythical feel that is capable of capturing the epic moments is part of the reason this series has been so excellent. If you’re at all interested in Lucifer you should try this issue to see how Kadrey changes things under Garbett’s great art.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue introduces a new character named Arabelle Crane (any relation to Scarecrow?) who has a John Constantine look and feel, though she’s more of a psychic. This character adds a sorely needed human element, as she supplies the point of view of the audience on a human level. She’s still powerful in her own right, at least at this stage it seems so, and her attitude is quite fun. She acts like she came off a long night of drinking and couldn’t care less about the miserable nature of the world (demons now roam the streets), but still heroic enough to save a stranger.
Outside of this character, Lucifer continues to plot against God (who is pretty new actually) with Gabriel and Mazikeen on his side. This issue does well to set into motion the characters’ new directions and preparations to take God down. Instead of progressing the plot, Kadrey appears to be focusing more on character. Mazikeen gets the brunt of the page time as she enters Hell and makes new alliances and her enemy Izanami plots. Meanwhile, Lucifer continues to be rather relaxed as he moves things forward on his end. A scene with Lucifer and Arabelle is a highlight in the issue, as it captures the natural reaction of meeting Lucifer while he judges her refrigerator items.
Garbett draws a great issue with a lot more use of Ben-Day dots throughout to add texture. He uses it with Arabelle’s trenchcoat which gives it a cool look that’s striking. He also uses it with shadows and in instances to lift the characters off the page. It generally gives the book a modern look with a retro vibe. Once again, Garbett draws very good expressions regardless of the size of the character on the page. Colors by Antonio Fabela use a lot of cool oranges in Lucifer’s club to convey the heat of Hell, while purples are used in outdoor scenes to convey a darkness that’s still a bit playful. The use of Ben-Day dots and purple are used around Arabelle’s eye to help convey her hung over and somewhat strung out look that helps build the character.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While characters begin to plot and take action, they seem to be doing it at a snail’s pace, especially Lucifer. Their lack of conviction in getting things done quickly is a surprise given the stakes, and it effectively slows the pace of the issue to a crawl. There are a lot of scene changes, but it’s hard to find much progress when all is said and done. By the end of the issue you might be wishing more actually happened even though there’s good character work going on.
A man (or is it angel?) with a plan.
Is It Good?
Lucifer kicks off a new arc with an addictive new character with the stakes raised to 11. While the pace is a tad slow, the character work is on point, as well as the awesome art.