The eleventh and final Lucifer graphic novel collects issues 70 – 75. Additionally, it collects the one-off Lucifer: Nirvana Prestige Format story that appeared during the series’ run and does not directly form part of the overall story. Issue 70 is drawn by Zander Cannon and Big Time Artie, and 72 by Dean Ormiston. Issues 71-72 and 74-75 are pencilled by Peter Gross with inks on the former by Aaron Alexovitch and on the latter by Ryan Kelly. These comprise the stories ‘Fireside Tales’, the two-part title story, ‘The Gaudium Option’, ‘Eve’ and ‘All We Need Of Hell’.
We will be winding down throughout all the stories in this volume. Zander Cannon draws a simple tale, in which three different people tell stories with a meaning, each about truth and lies, in a storytelling competition at River Holt, the Centaurs’ home. The first two are set during the time they all call the Fading, and pay fealty to Elaine for saving everyone. The third is told by Martin Thole, the once boy from Earth in ‘Stitchglass’, who is determined to compete even though he is neither centaur nor female.
Whilst waiting, Martin sees two beautiful young women in a not-too-distant part of the arena, one of whom he thinks is familiar. After the first story he goes across, offering to share his beer. Only the familiar one remains, her friend having been called away by a Hedgehog Crisis. They talk. He realises that she knows who he is. He recognises her as Elaine.
After the second story, she brings up the Fading, asking how long ago it was. For Martin, it was eighty years, for Elaine it was yesterday. He incorporates this into his story, after which there is no applause. Whilst the judges debate, Elaine suggests finding the river and getting away. On the bank they sit, and talk, and share a drink, and later they lay together. Martin decides not to care about the judgement of his story. He has a more important one.
Rachel Begai arrives in Los Angeles, outside the closed edifice that has been Lux for longer than any can remember. She is spoken to sympathetically by the lost and lonely who have been drawn here and who camp, arguing about the nature and significance of the experience. Rachel is trying to find Lucifer but she didn’t expect anything like this. Suddenly, lights blaze from the edifice, indicating that Lucifer has returned. And the walls vanish, revealing the nightclub as it was. But what also vanishes is the pull these people have felt. Released, they slowly drift away, to resume the lives that were interrupted for so long. Only Rachel goes inside to meet with the Morningstar, for he has called her. He needs a favour.
Lucifer has returned to the only place he might call home, weary from his efforts but resolved. He closes all the gateways that he created from the Letter of Passage he demanded from Yahweh so very long ago, folding them back down. Yahweh’s name still faintly echoes at the corners but that is of no moment. What is is that the Letter is incomplete: a corner is missing.
Rachel Begai has come because she dreamed of Lucifer going away and wanted to see if it was true. The dream was true, Lucifer sent it. He wants Rachel to keep something safe for him, in case he should ever want it again. He describes two people who might come for it. We recognise them as Mazikeen and Gaudium. In payment for this, he will try to have her brother Paul reincarnated. What he gives her is Lux, reduced to something that easily sits in her palm.
Elsewhere, a Goddess of Hell incarnated in stone, knows her invitation has been received.
But Lucifer has prior tasks. There is the Angel Meleos, retired from Heaven, too old for change, even change for good. This concerns Lucifer. Though there were other factions, the recent conflict was in essence started by the Basanos, Meleos’s creations. Who he destroyed, yet wept in so doing. Lucifer will not accept the chance that Meleos might one day breathe life into other creations: against the angel’s protestations and terror, he burns out Meleos’s eyes. They will eventually grow back, but by then Elaine will have learned the ropes.
Elsewhere, the Goddess Izanami moves her stone body to the shock of her attendants. She orders a bath, in order to smell sweet for when Lucifer arrives. As before, he crosses the desert naked and mortal. He is welcomed and brought before Izanami. Lucifer is not happy. The Goddess has taken a part of the Letter and he wants it back. He has already taken all her sons. He will not hesitate to mete out the same to someone who interferes with his purpose.
But Izanami has planned for this. She emerges as a young, slender, beautiful black-haired maiden, proposing a different way of settling their differences other than a war he will almost certainly win.
Meanwhile, Elaine flies above Hell. She is redecorating, and ploughs Hell under, leaving only the small corner of Effrul, in honour of Lady Lys, who hated but also loved Christopher Rudd.
Lucifer and Izanami take tea. She has determined that he is leaving, entirely, not that that is hard to guess. Lucifer is only mildly curious as to why she has manipulated him into coming here, and impatient and unconcerned as to her reasons, or her tea ceremony. As soon as she gives him the piece of the Letter he will go. But she delays him further, taking him to see her realm: as a Goddess set above Hell, she may have insights that no other has. She tells him that the dead still dream, and that although he gave up his throne so long ago, he is still one of the major figures in their dreams; an icon.
Izanami asks to accompany Lucifer when he departs, but he refuses her. He will leave with nothing. The point is to leave completely the existence he has had. So she asks that she be the last thing he remembers, and with pleasure. She kisses him. They make love. After he leaves, knowing he was part of some greater design on her part, but uncaring, Izanami has herself re-encased, this time in molten gold. What is not said, but which is plainly understood, is that Izanami has conceived. Something of Lucifer will remain behind.
The Morningstar’s next visit is to the derelict Silver City, where Elaine is struggling to reshape Creation without Hell. She seeks his advice, or at least his comments, but Lucifer refuses absolutely. You can’t hire consultants when you’re God, it’s your task only, so, no pressure then. He is sloughing off everything. This includes Mazikeen, who is waiting for him in the ruins of Primum Mobile.
Lucifer has left Mazikeen until last. He tells her he is leaving, alone. He has exhausted all the possibilities. She challenges him on why it has to be alone. He tells her it is because of what he is and always was, and what he wants and needs to be. To lose him devastates Mazikeen. His only consolation for her is that when he leaves, everything will fall away… but only she will he have to work to forget. And he has a gift for her, a marriage, a union. She protests but too late: Lucifer transfers his powers to her. Mazikeen is now the Morningstar. And he restores her half-mangled face, making her as beautiful as when she first came to him.
Mazikeen rises, full of rage. Does Lucifer imagine he can be free just by walking away from his life? She slashes his face with her sword, cutting him from cheek to forehead, across the bridge of the nose: the centre of his face. He will not forget her easily. And if he alters his face to eradicate the scar, he will be a coward.
Lucifer has no other words. He has come to the place he always meant to be. Silently, without looking back, he opens the gateway outwards and steps through it, out of this Creation, withdrawing with him all his shadows and effects. Lucifer has left the building. It has ended.
The Gaudium Option
But there are still loose ends to gather in. Elaine is rebuilding the afterlife. She is learning that the hardest but most necessary part of being God is to do nothing. The power is too great, as when Lucifer destroyed the Mansions of the Silence just by his footsteps there. Elaine has dismantled Heaven and Hell but there is a kind of sub-basement, resisting removal into The Dreaming, full of the hopes and fears of animals and primitives, sustained by some power that resists location. Rather than cause destruction to innocents by descending herself, she commissions Gaudium, who brings in Spera, to find and identify everything, enabling her, from a ‘distance’ to pluck them out, one-by-one.
The last of the Naglfar cross the ‘world’, doing their duty, but finding resistance. Eventually, they discover that this consists of their pure brother Lumen, still incarnated as a perfect blue sphere thinking abstract thoughts and acting as assistant to the once-Angel Remiel. Remiel, who refuses to acknowledge the authority of the Usurper, who is still pig-headedly loyal to Yahweh, who refuses to believe Yahweh will not return and who awaits that day. Stupid until the end.
Gaudium and Spera argue to convince their brother, who is grieving the certainty of things under Yahweh, to repent of his opposition. This done, they summon Elaine, who sends Remiel to govern a small Hell of his own, until he is ready to come out. She spares Lumen at his brother and sister’s request. For the first time, Lumen incarnates in ‘human’ form, ready to be educated in the ways of the corporeal by his siblings. Gaudium’s first suggestion is to grab a beer…
From a great distance, Elaine feels Lucifer depart. She recognises that he has found the freedom he always wanted. He could have unseated God, but he figured out that God is less free than anyone. So…
Elaine draws things together.
She plants the notion in the mind of Jill Presto, single mother experiencing what it’s really like, that one night out in a bar a month is perfectly alright. Though Jill appears to have a stalker, phoning her up and quoting one of her more erotic lines at her. She finds Mazikeen riding away from the Silver City, offers neither consolation nor pity, asks no favours, but invites her to come out for a drink. For old times sake. It’s a girl’s night out, so Spera but not Gaudium is invited too.
In London, in the Park, Elaine sits down beside her mother, overlooking the pond. Her mother remembers a daughter, now lost, but Elaine talks to her about a son instead, describes his awkward age, and that her mother is waiting as she does every Saturday, to drive him home from his part-time job at the cinema.
Elaine Belloc is still tying off loose-ends, realising as she does that she is detaching herself from everything that she has to hold onto.
Rachel Begai is confused. She walked into a bar in LA and found herself in one in Manhattan, to join the night out. Spera, Mona and Mazikeen Morningstar are already there. So it begins. The last guest is Jill Presto, who doesn’t accept drinks from strangers but, after Elaine extracts a promise from Mazikeen to agree a truce, and the Morningstar agrees to forfeit her vengeance against an ally she fought beside, joins the group.
And night stretches into timelessness as the ladies talk about everything and nothing, a gaggle of survivors enjoying the freedom just to be and enjoy, sharing their lives and their little niggles – the moment when Mona cries at the difficulty of dealing with the hedgehogs, and how they deliberately get into dangerous situations because they know she’s there to save them is an absolute zenith – and Elaine prolongs the night beyond anyone’s noticing, because this is her final letting go as her once self.
But at last the party breaks up. Jill leaves to relieve her sitter. Elaine says to let her go alone. Her stalker is waiting outside, with a knife, but she is rescued by a very familiar stranger, Bergilmir, who recognises Jill though she doesn’t recognise him. He names himself Boris Gellman. She allows him to escort her home. The others watch. They know Elaine has set this up. And she admits it. Which is why she has to go.
Elaine knows that as long as she is Elaine she will not be able to stop herself bending the rules for those she loves. And God cannot play favourites. So she will let go of herself after this, and sink into everything. This was her last act of manipulation. She sends Rachel back to LA, and to her brother, Paul. She has no fairy tale ending for Mazikeen, she wouldn’t dare. But Beatrice works behind the bar here, two nights a week. And she walks away with Mona, her best friend, who is facing up to never seeing her again. But Elaine swears she will not let her new job come between them. She will always be looking over Mona’s shoulders.
And then she lets herself go, and slides into being everything. One with the Universe. It doesn’t feel like death. Behind her, the manager locks the bar and puts up the Closed sign.
All we need of hell
And what of Lucifer?
Lucifer has entered the Void, where nothing exists. He must attune himself to this new medium, where nothing exists yet possibilities are infinite, Creations boiling into being and dissipating. The first person he meets is The Silk Man, who intends to slide from Creation to Creation. He believes he has cheated Death. Lucifer believes Death will have a different perspective on that.
But the next Creation he sees is a recapitulation of his own, from the moment of his ‘birth’ and the questioning of his role, the rebellion and his being tricked into the rule of Hell, the realisation of how he was trapped, Mazikeen’s request for asylum, and the emptying of Hell, witnessed by Dream of the Endless.
Lucifer is unsettled and angered by seeing these scenes again, but then the void is disturbed by the arrival of the Barrowjane, also out of his past, occupied by Berim, Lilith and the Silk Man. Berim sees Lucifer’s presence, and his scar, as proof that they win. Lucifer does not correct him. But the trio retreat within, as another approaches: it is Yahweh, for a final meeting with his son.
Yahweh is satisfied with what has happened, yet he wants, in some way, to make things up with and for his son, for what has been. To Lucifer it is impossible. Their relationship remains the same, outside the Plan or within: ‘You made me. That doesn’t get any easier to bear.’ Yahweh tells a story to try to illustrate a point, that Samael cannot be his own Maker: no-one can. Even Yahweh, infinite and eternal, was shaped by forces external. Samael knows this and what they were. He is unhappy because he desires what he cannot have, which Lucifer says is the definition of desire; to want what is available to you is merely greed.
He rises to end the conversation. But Yahweh has a final proposition, a Potlatch. He and Samael will exchange themselves with each other, so that both will have the other’s experiences. But at the end, Lucifer refuses. His life, his scar, is his own. His father cannot have them.
So Yahweh wishes him well. This time he can promise, the Lightbringer will not see him again. And Lucifer flies on into the Void, until whether he forces himself on it or is absorbed by it cannot be seen…
Since this story, Lucifer has twice been brought back for further, shorter series, from other hands. I have read neither. Whether they are a cut above the television show that inspired this series of posts or just as crap as it, I neither know nor care. Lucifer flew into the Void, to ends we can never see nor comprehend. I do not have to accept that he ever returned.