When The Sandman Universe of titles were announced, I became ecstatic with joy that we would finally be getting something that held up to the standard of Neil Gaiman’s masterwork, The Sandman. A great slew of talent was assigned and the titles looked interesting. Alas, it appears that no one is allowed to write the future stories of the current Sandman (Daniel), and The Dreaming had to send him off into self imposed exile to get him out of the story line. Frankly? I could care less about a book that is populated by The Sandman’s supporting characters. So I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be getting my Sandman fix anytime soon. The only character to spin out of Gaiman’s original story that was able to hold his own weight was Lucifer, First of The Fallen. Mike Carey did the character well in his stewardship of Lucifer, later series were a bit of a mixed bag though. The current volume, helmed by writer Dan Watters (Tortured Life, Limbo) and artists Max and Sebastian Fiumara (Four Eyes), seeks to right the Luciferian ship, and at only three issues in, has seem to have done so.
Lucifer is a multi-threaded narrative that involves quite a bit of mystery. The series’ protagonist seems to be trapped in some sort of Hell, not necessarily of his own creation, and this plot thread occupies the current, or contemporary, timeframe of the work. Other threads deal with Lucifer as the proprietor of his famous Lux bar, and others deal with Lucifer as he appears throughout time, influencing various historical figures, real and imagined. Here’s where we get into the ultimate appeal, at least for me, of this current volume of Lucifer. The character, in the hands of Watters, has taken on a sort of quasi-Sandman aspect. One will remember that in Gaiman’s original The Sandman, Morpheus often conversed with and influenced, often positively, but also sometimes negatively, those he encountered. No one who has ever read The Sandman #19, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” can forget how Gaiman masterfully wove a tale that explored not only the literary theories of the intertextuality and truth telling effects of grand literature, but told a brilliant tale of how The King of Dreams helped to inspire the ultimate storyteller’s most powerful tale of dreams and their effects. While Watters has a way to go to reach Gaiman’s heights, his tale in issue three of Lucifer where The First of the Fallen meets and influences, or rather doesn’t, the poet William Blake goes a long way to establishing this volume of Lucifer worth the time investment to read.
The Fiumara’s artwork, with its fantastical, and somewhat comedic in spots, style initially turned me off from the book. As the story is progressing, I am falling more and more in love with their unique style though. I was initially not excited about Kelly Jones’ artwork on The Sandman back in the day, but it grew on me as the story progressed and now Jones is one of my all time favorite artists. I’m not sure yet if the Fiumara’s will become one of my all time favorites as well, but they are well on their way to winning me over. In fact, I cannot think of any other artistic team to helm Watters’ story as deftly as they are proving to with each progressing issue. Lucifer is a tale of high fantasy, and dark dealings. It needs artists brave enough to delve deeply into their own dreams and fantastical visions to bring this story to life.
So, while most of The Sandman Universe titles have been a letdown to me thus far, Lucifer is shaping up to be what its protagonist once was mythologically, and seems to be again in these pages, a beautifully shining light amidst the drudgery on the weekly racks.