20 March 2012

Faster than a DC Bullet: Lucifer, Part XII: Evensong

Comic trade paperback, 212 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 2002-06)
Borrowed from the library
Read March 2012
Lucifer: Evensong

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly, Jon J Muth, Zander Cannon, Dean Ormston, Aaron Alexovich
Colorists: Daniel Vozzo, Guy Major, Fiona Stephenson
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher

The last volume of Lucifer ties up everything in the series nicely, so that it can end with no dangling loose ends. Over the course of the eleven volumes of this tale, we've seen universes begin and end, Heaven and Hell crumble, gods rise and fall, so it's nice to get a set of small-scale stories at the end, letting us breathe and reflect on what's gone by. Thankfully, it also turns out to be one of the best Lucifer collections yet.

The first story, "Fireside Tales," reunites Elaine Belloc with the boy from the Stitchglass storyline of Exodus. It's a last chance for us to see the centaur people of Lucifer's creation, as well as one the stories-within-a-story that Lucifer often delighted in. It also gives us a cute example of teen love.

"Evensong" shows us one last mission for Lucifer, as he reclaims the writ of passage that he used to make the portals to his creation. The best part of this story was the final conversation between Lucifer and Mazikeen, two complex characters with a complex relationship, finally her consummated... in their own strange way.

Any regular reader of this blog will be unsurprised to learn that I loved "The Gaudium Option," the last chance to see my favorite ex-cherub in action. Gaudium and his sister, Spera, get a chance to show they really do have what it takes when the new God, Elaine Belloc, sends them into the subbasement of the universe to shut down an afterlife that keeps on limping along. Not only do they deal with God's worst angel, Remiel (I used to like that guy), they also end up reunited with their brother, the unfallen cherub Lumen. Ah, greatness. I read an interview with Carey where he regrets that they never did a Gaudium spin-off, and it is indeed a bummer.

"Eve" is a magnificent story. What could have been a facile comedy tale-- Elaine unites all the series's female characters for a night out-- is actually oddly touching. Elaine, Jill Presto, Mazikeen, Spera, Rachel Begai, and Mona (goddess of hedgehogs) go out for drinks, and we get to see how these people have all touched one another. Elaine gives many of them one last gift-- a lover for Jill, a brother for Rachel-- and even writes herself out of her parents' lives, replacing herself with her brother, the failed half-angel who died a couple volumes ago. And then at the end, having realized that micromanaging the universe is never going to get her anywhere, she sinks into creation.

Elaine was my second-favorite character in Lucifer, and her journey here is excellent-- as is her solution to the problem of omnipotence that has plagued Lucifer throughout the series. It's a solution that Lucifer could never have taken, though, as he didn't want to rule justly, he just wanted to not be ruled. Elaine, in a sense, will always be ruled by everyone; she saves the universe at the cost of her own individuality.

The last story, "All We Need of Hell," shows Lucifer as he journeys outside of creation. He experiences his own past: his rebellion against God, and then his opening of Hell, a replaying of the events of Season of Mists from his perspective. There's a long section that uses the dialogue from Neil Gaiman's original story over again, and it's odd seeing it in the mouth of Carey's Lucifer. Gaiman's Lucifer is long-winded and prone to speeches, whereas Carey's never explained himself this well in his life. The two don't entirely fit together.

I really like the final conversation between God and Lucifer, Lucifer's final rejection of God, and then those closing pages, as Lucifer goes somewhere we can never see, having finally found what he always sought in the only way possible...

Unfortunately, this is followed by "Nirvana," a Lucifer story that was released as a standalone around the time of The Divine Comedy and take place then, too. It's noteworthy in that it gives us Lucifer's only encounter with the new Dream, but little else about it is interesting. It's one of many early Lucifer stories where he goes up against a god-like entity and wins because he's Lucifer. I wish it had been collected back then and not tacked onto the end of this volume, because it's a poor coda. Jon J Muth's beautiful art lacks much storytelling ability, too.

In his afterword to this volume, Mike Carey declares that Lucifer was supposed to be the next chapter in a saga whose previous installments were the Bible, Paradise Lost, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and The Sandman. Placing one's self with Milton, Blake, and Gaiman is a tall order indeed, but I feel that Carey very nearly pulled it off. When actually discussing and examining the character of Lucifer and his effects on others, Lucifer was on fire; it was only when it became a fantasy hack-and-slash or a story about the universe's foremost wizard that it became uninteresting. If every story in Lucifer had been the caliber of the end of Children of Monsters, A Dalliance with the Damned, The Divine Comedy, Mansions of the Silence, "Wire, Briar, Limber Lock"/"Stitchglass Slide", "The Yahweh Dance", and this volume itself, it would have been a great series. As it was, it was an average-to-good one with occasional flashes of brilliance.

Next issue: an adventure in prose with the Man of Steel: the first comic book novel ever, George Lowther's Superman!

No comments:

Post a Comment