The Devil Is In These Details

 

 

Yesterday when I was talking about Mike Carey’s and Elena Casagrande’s Suicide Risk I listed other great works by Mr Carey. From that list I omitted my two favourite series he has written, as I wanted to talk in depth about them (merely listing these two pieces of work would be doing them a dire disservice). These two masterpieces are Lucifer and The Unwritten, both of which are collaboration of Mike Carey and artist Peter Gross, and both play with themes of a father’s influence on his son, the son’s search for their own destiny and the power of stories to shape reality. 

 Today I will discuss Lucifer, as it is a complete story which is being re-released in a series of five trade paperbacks over the coming months. The first trade was released in May and should still be available at your local comic shop (for those of you in Perth that is the Comic Zone). 

NB:  Lucifer is a book which has as it’s main character the biblical devil Lucifer Morningstar, and features other biblical figures including Yahweh, the archangel Gabriel and the angel Amenadiel. So, if you are offended by the treatment of such figures as characters in myths no different than those in ancient Greek, Roman or Scandinavian mythology then this will not be a series that will work for you. As such, you may find this blog to be irrelevant.   That’s cool, come back tomorrow when I will finally finish answering Jase’s question about e-comics ! 

Let’s get the basic out of the way. Lucifer was launched in June 2000 (after a miniseries showcasing Lucifer performing a  mission for Yahweh in 1999) and ran for 75 issues and a one-shot special called Nirvana, ending in August 2006. 

It is the story of what Lucifer Morningstar did after he quit being the ruler of Hell in the “Season of Mist” storyline in Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Sandman series, and his attempts to break free of his predestined role in the universe created by Yahweh. Through a series of cunning plots and utilising his iron will (and his extremely formidable powers) Lucifer struggles to do just that by attempting to create his own universe complete with a new God, Heaven and Hell.

I will not provide any more of a plot summary than that, as I do not want to spoil the clever twists and turns the narrative takes. If you do not mind spoilers there is of course a Wikipedia page which adequately does just that. Instead, and as the blog title suggests, I want to talk about why I personally enjoy the series and consider it to be one of the best explorations of the character of Lucifer, the question of free will and the triumph of determination in any media.      

Firstly, in Lucifer Mike Carey succeeds in making a villain an effective protagonist without diluting their evil nature. The character of Lucifer Morningstar is explored – for example, the story “Lilith” explains why Lucifer uses as his weapons of choice light and fire – and yet at no point are you as a reader allowed to forget that Lucifer is an evil, evil bastard not worthy of your empathy. The charm, wit and intelligence which Lucifer uses to enact his plans make him a character who is interesting to watch. However, Carey shows us that this is all in the service of manipulation, extreme selfishness and a character with a heart so cold he will not only sacrifice anyone and everyone to reach his ends, but will not care a whit that he has done so (the way Lucifer treats the demon Mazikeen, the one being in the universe who truly loves him, is abominable. The brilliance of the story is that just when you start to like Lucifer, Carey provides an example of just how evil he is. In the end I agreed with what it was that Lucifer wanted to accomplish, but hated with a passion the means Lucifer used to achieve these ends. Paradoxically, Lucifer became a character whose aims I empathised with, but a character I hated. Like many, I had as a teenager entertained the romantic notion that Lucifer was somehow a victim of Yahweh who deserved my pity, but after reading this series was happier with the idea that Lucifer was no persecuted rebel, but an evil and selfish being who deserved everything he got. 

I mentioned above that I agreed with Lucifer’s goal – what was that goal ? In Lucifer, Carey and Gross use Lucifer himself as a  representation of free will. Lucifer, like almost all of us, is trying to forge his own life out from under the shadow of his father. What makes Lucifer’s struggle so compelling is that his father is the creator of the universe, so to escape his shadow Lucifer must forge his own reality ! Again, this is something which all of us can relate to as we struggle to define our lives both in relation and opposition to the life our parents want us to lead. The series asks just how influences such as our genetic heritage, the decisions made by our parents in raising us and our understanding of their expectations shapes the decisions we make when determining our own destiny. Being a fiction, this question is answered in no uncertain terms, with Lucifer becoming the agent of his own destiny. Perhaps it is seeing that one person can indeed become master of their own life is cathartic, and gives me hope that I too can one day be the same. Or perhaps I just enjoyed watching the machinations of a highly intelligent person with no scruples play out ! 

I have not said this in previous blog posts, but I took it as read. I apologise for making an assumption, and will make it clear now: I would LOVE for you to provide feedback ! 

Be it a comment on a specific post, suggestions on how to improve the site, or questions you would like me to answer and/or topics you would like me to explore. This site is for you the reader as much as it is for me, so let me know what you are thinking ! 

See you tomorrow when I post my views on webcomics. Be prepared to listen to a heap of praise and positivity ! 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Devil Is In These Details

  1. Sally

    Hi, I have a parent visiting at the moment and your comment about children trying to forge their own destiny rang very true with me. The parent-child relationship is very rarely one of equality even when you reach adulthood and in that respect I can identify with Luther wanting to create his own realm. Something else I have noticed are things that my parent does that I dislike greatly and I know much of my own self identity has been built around trying to define my “difference”. I wonder if Luther achieves the complete separation that he seeks or if he comes to the realisation that I have that you carry this with you? Sounds like I will have to read this series!

    Reply
  2. GedsDead

    Nice, well written (good structure and pace) post!

    It’s as hard not to like Lucifer as it is to like him.

    It is a great story, having something follow The Sandman is a difficult position to be in, let alone be able to craft something that holds it’s own with it.

    – Ged

    Reply

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