Lucifer: Children and Monsters
Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly, Dean Ormston
Colorists: Daniel Vozzo, Marguerite Van Cook
Letterer: Fiona Stephenson
In Devil in Gateway, Lucifer got some kinda paper from the Silver City. In this book, he uses it, opening up a gateway that draws people to his bar for reasons they don't fully understand, but more importantly, allowing him to travel where he needs to go next. For you see, Lucifer has a plan... just not one that we are privy to. In "The House of Windowless Rooms," Lucifer travels into the Japanese afterworld to get his wings back.
This is where I started to get bored with Lucifer. Honestly, the premise that the universe contains innumerable different belief systems, all true, doesn't do much for me. It worked in The Sandman, which often treated the idea fancifully, but Lucifer takes them all seriously-- and you can't take them all seriously, because they're not compatible. I think it makes the story of Lucifer have a whole lot less impact if he's not rebelling against the Lord, but one of a countless number of gods. Lucifer doesn't really treat them as belief systems, just complicated fantasy worlds into which our protagonist travels. And our protagonist does not have to be Lucifer, he could jut be any old grouchy wizard and the story would be exactly the same.
The other reason that "The House of Windowless Rooms" didn't work for me is because it's the point where Lucifer's all-knowingness became too much. To travel into the Japanese afterlife, he must travel as a mortal... but it makes no difference. From twelfth page, where he blind the gatekeeper, it's obvious the despite being mortal, he still knows everything about everything and thus he's never in any danger. Plus, everyone he goes up against is dumb-- and that doesn't make him seem smart. You just know he's gonna win no matter what. What ever happened to suspense?
Meanwhile, his piano bar comes under attack from gross demon things, and this did work for me, since it felt like there was actual danger. Mazikeen and the human waitress are vulnerable-- very vulnerable-- and so there was actually some suspense. Also the sassy magician woman from Devil in the Gateway makes a surprise reappearance, and I liked her.
The second story here, the titular "Children and Monsters," brings back Elaine, the girl with ghostly grandmothers from last volume. I liked her too, so it's a welcome reappearance. Then there's a lot of strange mythological stuff and Lucifer knows everything about everything and the Heavenly Host invade Los Angeles, but turn out to be pretty lame. Elaine made me care some, but I didn't care a lot. It's kinda like one of those Star Trek or Doctor Who episodes where everyone is always talking about a ray and it doesn't mean anything because the ray does whatever it needs to at that moment, except with a gross version of a vaguely Christian mythology.
But, the ending. Hmmmm... This was the moment where it became clear why this was a story about the Lucifer, and not Lucifer the Grouchy Amoral Wizard. So I'm intrigued enough to keep on going, at least.