Saturday, January 11, 2014

#CBR6 Review #02: Lucifer, Book 1 by Mike Carey

A graphic novel spin-off from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, following the eponymous Lucifer after he resigns from his post as ruler of Hell to live a life on earth running a small piano bar in Los Angeles. And yet, the business of Heaven just won’t seem to leave him alone, and the question of where he fits into the equation of free-will is present as always.

The first book of Lucifer is presented as a number of seemingly independent stories, that all manage to weave and connect together in the end, and all dealing with how Lucifer essentially becomes a hired-hand for Heaven and other supernatural beings in his post-Hell career: just because Lucifer is not an angel anymore, that doesn’t mean that he can’t work for Heaven, right? And even though he represents free-will, is his rebellion still not a known part of the universe and how it plays out? The angels of Heaven have their hands in all the honey-pots, and despite not wanting to intervene in certain aspects on earth directly, there are certain things that they still cannot allow to happen, and so the omniscience continues through another vein as Lucifer is brought into the mix of things. But of course, all is not what it appears with Lucifer, neither in terms of how he goes about his work, what payment he receives, nor his connection to many of the people that he meets along the way; this includes another angel on earth with a powerful and living deck of tarot cards, a cabaret magician with dreams of making it big, a young girl who can speak to spirits, a demon companion (Mazikeen) who chooses to keep her human face deformed, and even his angelic brothers and sisters (the archangels Michael and Amenadiel, in particular).

What is wonderful about this series is the manner in which Lucifer is portrayed; he is not some mighty, overbearing figure that craves domination over all souls, but a calm and collected man who has his own set of morals. Lucifer often tells the literal truth to people as a means of remaining neutral, and yet it is in this manner that “he lets you find your own way to Hell.” And I think that Lucifer’s position as being neutral and acting for his own gain, while allowing people to make their own choices is impertinent in the discussion of free-will and salvation: if our paths are predetermined and we can be controlled by God or Lucifer or other forces, how can we be judged upon our death as to our place in Heaven or Hell? I don’t know if I’m explaining what I’m trying to say all that well here, but in essence, Lucifer is not portrayed as “bad” per say, but as just another part to a big puzzle. The manner in which the angels are presented as soldiers of heaven who are simply following orders is also reminiscent of the manner in which angels are portrayed in “Supernatural,” though whose orders those are exactly is always a little up in the air (I’m sorry, if there is a connection to “Supernatural” to be made, I will find it).

If you were wondering, yes, Lucifer follows the continuity of The Sandman, and Morpheus himself is even addressed and becomes involved in the peripheries at some points. I’m told that this series also ties loosely into some of the stories of Hellblazer (which Mike Carey has also worked on), and the overall mood of this book was somewhat reminiscent of the feeling I had when reading the first volume of Hellblazer (a series that I’ve also been meaning to keep going with but for some reason haven’t as of yet). The artwork within this graphic novel varied in its interest to me, however, as some parts and artists’ style was more to my liking than others. Also, although I know that the demon Mazikeen's speech is a product of her half-face and mask she wears, but sometimes I found it incredibly hard to understand what she was saying. Am I supposed to know what she's saying, though? Maybe not, but that's just one little sticking point with me. 

Overall, however, I enjoyed this book, and was always interested in what happened to Lucifer once he opened his piano bar after leaving Hell. Questioning theology and taking the stories and characters that we know from it, but putting them into a modern world is always interesting to me, likely leading to my positive reception of this first book of Lucifer. And given that there is a bit of an open-end to it, I plan on delving into the second in the series at some point (I think there are only 2 full books/volumes). If you similarly enjoy that kind of supernatural, heaven-and-hell sort of thing with a bit of a twist, I would maybe give this book a try.

[Cannonball Read main site]

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