What The Hell: Unless you’ve spent eons in the actual Tartarus, you’ll immediately recognize Vertigo’s Lucifer. Neil Gaiman’s handsome fallen angel has been a comic mainstay for years (and, more recently, a halfway decent TV hero). After a few years of being M.I.A., Ol’ Beelz returned to comics in the pages of August’s The Sandman Universe #1. For this extended flashback, The Thin White Lucifer was seen enacting some arcane ritual (i.e. straight obliterating ravens). That appearance, however, ended with a far different version of comics’ sexiest celestial being.
The Long Fall: This second Lucifer — the protagonist of this new solo series — is a disheveled, heavily bearded mess stuck in some unknown prison. Alongside who appears to be Hitler and Robert Johnson, Lucifer is trapped within a magical prison dimension disguised as a quaint township. His first attempt at escape — via comical digging — is unsuccessful (let’s say a bucket is involved), but his perseverance is central. This is a Lucifer at his most desperate and committed, fighting back from the frayed ends of his personal rope to get back at whoever stuck him in his own version of Hell (where he’s doted on and eats oatmeal; the horror!) In the wake of the sleek, ultra sexy TV series, this Lucifer feels like a true fiend, clawing and scrapping for blood and vengeance, which is a great speed to begin with given Lucifer’s rich, complex history.
Two’s A Crowd: In addition to Howard Hughes Lucifer, the book also introduces us (sort of) to LAPD Detective John Decker. A version of Decker appeared on the TV show, but this one is slightly different. After the death of his cancer-stricken wife Penelope in a (mysterious) car crash, Decker is drawn to Gately House, a rehab clinic housing her cousin, Robert. Though it’s not clear how, this Decker plays a central role in the larger story, undoubtedly delving into Lucifer’s own sordid personal canon.
Decker seems like a true broken heart, desperate for answers and closure, which parallels nicely with Lucifer’s mission. At the same time, Decker’s emotional weight/presence should provide some great nuance and subtlety when played off Lucifer. A chance to not only humanize the character in a new way, but also expand Lucifer’s obsessive pursuits and drive him further down this anger hole he’s tumbled down.
Where In The Hell: Turns out, there’s a reason Lucifer’s looking like David Bowie again. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, writer Dan Watters wanted to draw out specific references to the deceased singer, namely his final record, Blackstar, and the themes of “entropy and the end of things and your body starting to fall apart.” Watters has tossed the character out of the paradise of true beauty and grandeur, exploring what happens when he lands among the darkest rubble of his own mind and the universe itself.
Thus far, it’s been an intriguing move, providing a kick in the pants to the Lucifer franchise while taking him back to the more elemental and utterly raw portrayals of his comic heyday. However, it’s the Decker components that have me most interested, and his journey will ultimately shed the most agonizing and engaging light on the core narrative threads of suffering, personal torment, and the freedom (and/or fury?) of absolute finality.
A Lil’ Slice Of Heaven: It’s always hard to judge a story based on a single issue. That being said, this new Lucifer tale is off to a promising start. He’s already suffered greatly, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when this god undergoes further psychic bloodletting (also, the physical variety at some point?) throughout the series. Either way, Lucifer’s truly in The Good Place: fighting from his knees, gnashing his chompers for blood and revenge and maybe something greater, all for our unfettered amusement.
The 9 Circles Of Literary Hell: Circle #5, Anger, because we’re in for some bloody, Old Testament wrath once Lucifer escapes.