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LUCIFERWriter: Mike Carey. Characters created by Neil Gaiman.
Artists: Scott Hampton, Chris Weston, James Hodgkins, Warren Pleece, Dean Ormston
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)
Synopsis: After abandoning hell to start a nightclub in Los Angeles, Lucifer mostly keeps to himself. But a chain of events has been set in motion that'll get Lucifer out into the world and nursing a private agenda that's bound to be bad news for everyone...
How Is It?: Perhaps it's a bit of a leap to say Neil Gaiman "created" him, but this particular version of Old Scratch--self-involved, laconic, basically Miltonian but with an obvious mean streak--first appeared in Gaiman's Sandman series, particularly the "Season of Mists" storyline, where he was an instant hit. It may seem a bit odd for the Devil to be the star of his own series, but he's a natural fit.
Devil In The GatewaySynopsis: Heaven has a problem, and it's one that's going to require some dirty work. So who else to call but a former agent that they had to let go, namely the Devil himself, now running a nightclub in LA. The assignment leads Lucifer into a more complex situation which may lead to him making another attempt at storming heaven...
How Is It?: The funnybook version of Paradise Lost, this book is working in the tradition of Gaiman's work, and succeeds. This is the closest you'll get to Sandman today. It's interesting to note how nicely everything melds into the genre of film noir: you've got the "fallen" hero with "underworld" contacts who wants to be left alone (a la Casablanca) but gets pulled into solving a mystery. You've also got the Girl Friday with a hopeless crush on her boss, in this case the deformed "child of Lilith" Mazikeen. The rest of it is the kind of stuff Gaiman always did so well--mythical beings, magic, conspiracies, kids who unleash forces beyond their control. Also like Sandman, the protagonist often becomes a supporting character in some stories. It's ripping stuff, though my biggest complaint would be that Carey doesn't have the brisk pacing and steady flow of ideas that Gaiman has, perhaps padding out a story to more issues than is neccessary. Also, whereas Gaiman's characters did a lot of living between storylines--they'd often be in a completely new situation when we met up with them again--Carey seems content to milk the concepts that were laid out in Sandman, like the nightclub Lux (which Lucifer said he was planning to close down at the end of that series, but here remains open--but anyway...) Nevertheless, this is still very imaginative, and will definately be a must read for Sandman fans. It definately made me a tad nostalgic...
Children & MonstersSynopsis: So...Lucifer has this portal, y'see. It's a portal to...we're not really sure where yet, or why he wants it, but a lot of people (well, supernatural entities) are suddenly VERY interested in it for one reason or another. Lucifer's going to have to employ a couple of extremely nasty creatures to defend it from a direct assault from the heavenly host--that's when he's not tangling with the Japanese Gods of the Underworld, witch kids, or chaos demons from before creation...
How Is It?: Hmmm...OK, my enchantment with this series is starting to wear off a little. It starts with a clever, Sandman-esque one-shot that sets up both the plot and the theme, wherein Lucifer gets hold of a very strange and special baby, but unfortunately it rapidly goes downhill after that. That's not to say it's terrible, or even bad, it's just that unfortunately Carey doesn't have Gaiman's flair for interweaving dozens of fascinating stories. Instead, he chooses to concentrate on a single storyline for FAR too long, until it's hard to think that he's not just padding things out. The opening storyline, "The House of Windowless Rooms", in which Lucifer goes to the Japanese underworld to get his wings back, is kind of neat, but it's FOUR ISSUES LONG; Gaiman would have told it in one issue, two tops. What's more, Carey doesn't seem to have Gaimans' imagination or encyclopedic knowledge of folklore. Most of the beings we see in this storyline are either lifted whole from Sandman or are simply "angels" or "demons"...there are no interesting additions to the world of Lucifer, merely extensions of existing elements. And I gotta say--a minor Japanese demon and a monstrous baby take down the ASSEMBLED HEAVENLY HOST?!? Sorry, I don't buy it. All this said, it's not like it's not a worthwhile read, just kind of an aimless and disappointing one. I'm not really expecting to review more Lucifer stories at this point.
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