The Kirby That Could Have Been: 1 – In The Days Of The Mob


Jack Kirby Mob 1

Every now and then, it’s our turn to be one-up on Earth-2.
On Earth-2 they’re not carrying out redevelopment works in Mersey Square, including closing the cut-through that affords me the shortest route from the bus stop to the Post Office. Normally, that would be our imaginary parallel world’s superiority to this one. On Earth-2, I wouldn’t have had to go the long way round, that takes me past Stockport’s surprisingly central comics shop. Where, in the window…
But let me digress into history. Back in 1971, the legendary Jack Kirby, sick of various things at Marvel, from the lack of creative freedom with Stan Lee always having the last word, disgusted at the lack of proper credit for his contributions – Stan Lee having, like I said, the last word – left Marvel to work for DC Comics for the first time since the Fifties.
DC Director Carmine Infantino attracted Kirby with glowing promises. Full credit. Editorial freedom. A studio in which he could create characters and series that his proteges would work on, under his supervision. New formats. New genres. In short, a breath of fresh air. Kirby signed. And Infantino began the process of reneging upon everything that wasn’t Kirby writing and drawing superhero comics, under New York based editors and having Superman’s face redrawn over his pencils.
It wasn’t quite as blanket as that. Infantino paid lip service to Kirby’s desire to reintroduce Crime comics, which had been wiped out of existence when the Comics Code was drawn up in the Fifties. These would be in black and white, in magazine format, and they would be real, raw and direct. They would be red meat.
Oh yes, Infantino kept that promise. One issue of In the Days of the Mob, under the name of a minor sub-company with no connection to comics, without promotion, poor distribution, and cancelled with issue 2 complete and unseen. The same story applies to another Kirby creation, Spirit World, about which I have absolutely no knowledge. Did I say no promotion? Both magazines were plugged in DC’s comics, in holes in the corner, crappily designed commercial ads with the tiniest possible reproduction of the covers.
You knew the magazines existed, but you couldn’t get hold of them to read.
Which brings me back to the present day, in which I am walking past Stockport’s surprisingly central comics shop. Where, in the window… In the Days of the Mob. Jack Kirby.
I shot inside, enquired trepidatiously as to the cost. Which was expensive but not unaffordable. This was not the original magazine. It’s just as rare, mind you, but it was a hardback book, published by DC in 2013, reprinting from the original art not just issue 1, but the never published issue 2. Oh my.

Jack Kirby Mob

The same was done for Spirit World, which can be had through Amazon or eBay for only more than twice what I paid for In the Days of the Mob and which is, under current circumstances, expensive and not affordable. I can dream, however. And I have read In the Days of the Mob and it is superb. Prime Kirby, rejoicing in the breath of fresh air he finally had, drawing serious, violent, rock solid true crime stories from the Roaring Thirties, not a trace of superheroics, no fantastic poses, just real people. It feels weighty and important, because that’s what it is.
And it is tragic too, for the fact that this is all there is. Kirby was rolling, and what he could so very easily have done with this was to change the face of Comics. Why not? He’d only done that half a dozen times already. The possibilities were endless, and that for this title only. But imagine it as the flagship of a line of crime comics, energetic, raw, real, more adult than the comics of the ebbing Silver Age.
And imagine it as a beachhead, ushering forward a greater range of genres, to stand alongside the one genre we’ve been limited to for half a century since. Imagine choice, real choice, attracting a wider pool of readers. And imagine too that, with so much to choose from, there would have to be fewer superhero comics, but these would only be the best, written and drawn to a standard higher than we endured.
All of these possibilities are there in the pages of In the Days of the Mob, and no doubt in Spirit World too. Probably, on Earth-2, Kirby didn’t get shafted by Infantino, and they got all those titles. Lucky bastards.
Now I’m ranted out (don’t you believe it), what of the actual book?
The actual published issue was written and drawn by Kirby, with inks throughout by Vince Colletta, with Mike Royer taking over that role for the unpublished issue 2. The difference is immediately apparent with Royer, at that stage, adhering much more faithfully to Kirby’s pencils. Colletta was notorious for speeding up his ink jobs by erasing characters and simplifying backgrounds, but in comparing the art on the two issues, I can see no great difference between Kirby’s compositions on either.

Jack Kirby Mob 3

What is different is that issue 1 has a softer, less stark appearance that is not solely down to the different inking techniques. Yes, Colletta uses more feathering but that’s not the only factor in the overall softening of the look. Issue 1 has extensive use of grey shadings, on every page, mostly in the form of solid areas, whereas issue 2 is simple black and white, without any gradation. Funnily, enough, I prefer Colletta’s issue: it was more of a feel to it, a sense of time, and given that Kirby is working on a realistic subject, with actual historical figures, that is much more in keeping with the era in question.
Kirby’s approach is to tell true gangster tales, never shying away from the callousness and brutality of the figures involved. The format is of a series of four tales per issue, set in Hell, yes, Hell, in this section constructed as a Maximum Security Prison, run by Governor Fry. Fry, in the grand tradition of comics narrators, addresses the reader directly, telling them that this Hell is constructed by its inmates, who conceived it and thus it is what it turned out to be. A very interesting forerunner of Neil Gaiman’s conception of Hell in Sandman, though Kirby doesn’t openly state that Fry’s Hell is the consequence of its denizens’ expectation of punishment.
And each issue is a guided tour by Fry, showing the reader/visitor another aspect of the men and women in Hell, and what they did to come here.
And these stories are rock solid. They are true stories and what’s more they feel it. Kirby is working at the height of his skill. The lines and figures are massive and powerful, untainted by colour and, because Kirby is dealing with real people, with no superhuman element whatsoever, he avoids exaggeration. People stand or move like you are I, except that they are driven by forces we cannot comprehend, only see for ourselves. There is a bedrock truth to the stories in these two issues that, for all Kirby’s skill and ability to render vivid imagination believable, shines through every panel.
Two issues collected. Eight stories. Not much to show. If Infantino hadn’t been so limited in his vision, snapping up Kirby not for what he could do with a free hand but only to stick two fingers in Marvel’s eye, what the hell could the King have achieved? On form like this, what could he not have achieved? And who could he have mentored, taught, encouraged to look further and deeper than the guys in the funny costumes?
After reading this, I am determined some day to get my hands on the Spirit World companion book. There’s a copy available on Amazon at only about twice as much as I can afford to spend but who knows what might happen? I live in hope. Unlike the mobsters of the Roaring Twenties. They live in Hell. Deservedly.

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Lucifer, the Morningstar: 12 – Nirvana


Though this final story was collected as part of Evensong, it is not a part of the story but an adjunct to it and so I will treat it separately, as an epilogue

Lucifer

Nirvana

This story was written by Mike Carey and painted by Jon Jay Muth. It appeared as a 48 page one-shot in August 2002, cover-dated October, contemporary to issue 29. It marks the first appearance of the Silk Man, but none of the other characters appear elsewhere in the series.
I intend to treat this short story differently. It’s not a part of the series, and has little to do with its themes and its daring. It’s a side-show, a diversion, of peripheral concern. What’s more, it cannot compare in terms of involvement.
Part of this is due to it being painted art, not based upon the traditional pen and ink approach. With exceedingly few exceptions, painted art just doesn’t work in comics, because it doesn’t move. Ironically, the closer it gets to the purest photorealism of all, the more static and unrealistic it becomes. It can be great to look at, panel by panel, but that’s the very antithesis of comics, which depend on successive images and movement or change between them.
As for the story, it is simultaneously simple and complex, but the two parts do not gel. Perdissa, a female angel who once dispelled chrisms of mercy but who now describes herself as ‘God’s Sword’, has contracted with the Silk Man, the artificial, non-living immortal leader of a long-vanished Chinese cult, for the death of Lucifer, his utter destruction, his reward a universe of his own and the pleasures of her body, all in God’s name. Lucifer must utterly cease to exist. The Silk Man promises her a pyre of a million bodies with Lucifer at its apex.
His first assault is a total failure, sending demons created out of the dreams of human dreamers to attack Lucifer and Mazikeen inside Lux. The demons are unkillable, except by killing the dreamers. Lucifer intends to find the person responsible. The method also draws the attention of the new Dream of the Endless. Lucifer warns him off interfering.
The Silk Man’s plot is difficult to understand. He intends to draw a soul towards Nirvana, negation and non-existence, to create a wave of death and destruction that will extinguish millions, including Lucifer, who will have been drawn to the apex. That soul is Cai Yue (which sounds altogether too close to the Bahdnesian words Johnny Thunder uses to summon his Thunderbolt!).
Cai is a young Buddhist woman in her late twenties, a technocrat and programmer in Beijing, widow of Lun, who she is desperately trying to resist accepting committed suicide, whose best friend is Shao, Lun’s younger sister. Shao is trying to draw Cai out, get her to relax and resume life, get laid, in short accept not merely that Lun is dead but that he was not tranquil but rather had always had a deadness inside.
But the Silk Man offers to bring Lun back to Cai, the two of them reuniting in Nirvana, and ceasing to exist individually. It is too easy to lead the relatives of a suicide. Cai’s removal of her self will trigger the wave of death. But the Silk Man has failed to account for three things: that Cai is still too much tied to all the things she has loved in life, that Lucifer is prepared to deal out death himself, in Tiananmen Square (not that incident), killing thousands as opposed to millions, as a fire-break, and that Perdissa is not acting in the name of God but her own. She is an angel who thought insufficient stricture was being used against ill, and besides it seems Lucifer refused her body.
Perdissa screams defiance. But Lucifer has dropped the equivalent of a note in Heaven’s letterbox, and Michael and two other angels attend to arrest Perdissa, who has quite overstepped her mark.
And Cai retreats to the mountains and solitude, missing neither Beijing nor Lun, but only Shao.

Lucifer 2


Not, I’m afraid, anywhere near up to the standard of the worst issue or arc of the series, Nirvana fails to express itself or offer a clear point to existing. In a way that’s a measure of the strength of the series, that it hangs together so completely that there is simply nowhere for this piece to attach itself. It is a left out part of a story that leaves nothing out and as such is meaningless.
And that, people, is what Lucifer the television series so signally failed to be when it aimed for the banal and jokey procedural. And crap.

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 11 – Evensong


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’.

Lucifer

Fireside Tales

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.

Lucifer 2

Evensong

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…

Lucifer 3

Eve

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.

Lucifer 4

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.

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 10 – Morningstar


The tenth Lucifer graphic novel collects issues 62 – 69. Issues 62 and 66 are drawn by guest artists Coleen Doran and Michael Wm. Kaluta respectively, whilst the remaining issues are drawn by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly. These comprise the stories ‘The Wheels of God’, and the six-part title story, divided into two three-part arcs by ‘Interlude: The Beast Can’t Take Your Call Now’.

Lucifer

The Wheels of God

On Earth, in Hamburg, the Angel Solomon, God’s instrument of punishment, continues to mete out Justice in the form that he sees it. He devises a complex scheme to end a form of corruption in Hamburg by using human instruments in a scheme that will remove a corrupt Policeman, who sells seized drugs to the city’s biggest dealer, with the blessing of a Councillor elected on a ticket to drive out drug-dealers. It is a neat and vicious circle that will see all three removed in one way or another from the positions they exploit.
The instrument in his design is another person who awaits justice, though he has nothing to do with the other three. He is Karl Dahlmutter who, once, to hide from his own homosexuality and conform to the brutal expectations of his skinhead ‘friends’, shoved a broken bottle up the arse of Jayesh Deva, before calling the ambulance that saved his life and receiving his families’ thanks for being a friend. Karl isn’t a skinhead any more, though he still bears the tattoo he couldn’t suffer getting finished.
Jayesh still has nightmares about his experience. He spent eight months in a coma, his spine damaged too much for him to ever walk again. He lives with Karl, who is his partner and his love, his nurse, his aide. Karl loves Jayesh, so that his choices are not just penance for his sins, but he loves with the unimaginable fear that one day Jayesh will find out.
So, because he awaits punishment, Solomon can easily threaten him into being the catalyst for what he intends to bring about. Karl will use a gun to kill the Inspector, the dealer will go to prison and the Councillor will be disgraced.
But it doesn’t happen that way. Karl cannot bring himself to shoot. The Inspector undergoes an epiphany, snatches the gun and shoots the dealer through the head. The Councillor escapes, but only escapes death. Karl gets away too. Solomon’s plan has misfired. He is summoned back to Heaven by a fellow angel, Meleos, who challenges the incorruptible judge over whether he has allowed too much of his own judgement to supersede that of Yahweh. In any event, his judgement is required in the Silver City.
And Karl returns to the bookshop he shares with Jayesh, fearful and tearful. To find a note from Solomon. It reads: ‘He already knows. He has always known.’ Sometimes, even the worst sin can be forgiven, and the sinner redeemed.

Lucifer 2

Morningstar (Part 1)

In which the battle to destroy the Silver City begins.
The armies of the Lilim, one on the ground commanded by Lilith, the other hidden in the air commanded by Sandalphon, occupy the plains of Armageddon. Creation continues to rot from the inside out. Christopher Rudd has ordered the destruction of the torture machines in Hell. In the Silver City the Angels are paralysed by indecision.
Berim stalks Mazikeen in the wastelands, confident of overwhelming her. One should not treat the exiled War Leader so lightly. Though he shifts into a giant armoured form, she leads him into the trap of a ravine too narrow for him to manoeuvre and breaks off a pillar of stone to fall and skewer him. She takes his head and requires it to speak. She learns of the intended attack on the City, to destroy it.
In Arizona, Lucifer confronts Noema, the baby of the Basanos, who has drawn him and Elaine Belloc here to resolve their opposition. Lucifer repeats his promise to the Basanos that he would not hurt their child unless it threatened him first. Noema is in no mood for conciliation. She demands Lucifer bow and beg for mercy: she is more powerful than him, since his power derives from Yahweh and is steadily leeching away. Lucifer does not bow. Elaine intervenes, pointing out that there are more important matters. She rescues from the void Sarah and Bobby, the family of Charlie who was the pathway to Yggsdrasil, and also Beatrice, who warns Lucifer of Mazikeen’s impending death. Lucifer takes no action: he is confident of Mazikeen, and rightly so, and anyway his plans matter more.
Noema taunts him. Lucifer is standing on the sidelines, waiting to see who wins. As far as Noema sees, he is beaten, outwitted, his plan will fail. Of course she gloats. She takes Lucifer and the rest where he needs to go: back to Hell.
On Armageddon plain, a reconnaissance party of angels descends to Lilith, squatting. They ask what she is doing. She replies that when the Silver City was built, she mixed her own blood into the mortar that held it in the sky. She can control that blood. The Silver City crashes to the ground. The angels are slaughtered.
In Hell, Lucifer is welcomed back by Rudd, though he has no intention of once again taking up the reins. Hell is being transformed. Lucifer wants to know why Noema has brought him there, along with Elaine and Jill. She tells him that this time is the Crux. From here he will launch himself to his final failure.
A group of Angels led by Uriel come to parley under a white flag: they are captured and slaughtered. This provokes the angels inside the ruined Silver City to launch themselves, seeking revenge. Sandalphon’s Lilim come from the sky and wipe them out.
In Hell, Rudd conveys Lucifer and his party to what was once his home, where Duma awaits. Lucifer has divined Rudd’s plan, which is itself to tear down Heaven, along with Hell. He will hound unmercifully a God who condones suffering, calling hm a tyrant. Normally, he would have no chance but at this moment, with Yahweh gone and all that has happened, he could achieve his goal. But Lucifer wants him to reverse his plan, to support Heaven against the Lilim, or else nothing of Yahweh or Lucifer’s creations will survive. Rudd needs time to think, though indecision is as good as a decision in itself.
There is good news: Mazikeen has arrived, with the head of Berim to confirm all things. She kneels to Lucifer but he will not accept her obeisances. Instead, he kisses her.
On the field of battle, Uriel has survived. He slays Sandalphon and prepares to end Lilith’s life. But he is in his turn killed by Fenris, who is Destruction.
In Hell, Rudd debates and Lucifer waits, a thing he is not accustomed to. When Elaine queries what Hell can do, Lucifer explains his true plan. Hell’s hordes will deflect the Lilim, keep them at bay, long enough to get Elaine to Primum Mobile, the seat of God. There she will use the demiurgic power that came down to her from her father, Michael, to reorder Creation. She was trained in how to do this in ‘The Yahweh Dance’. Lucifer could do it himself but he has no intention of getting trapped in a situation not of his own making, now he has decided to be on the side of something, as opposed to nothing. Elaine can do that.
Lilith and Fenris discuss the next phase. She lays out her tactics, to wear down the remaining defences. He is Destruction: the City is unimportant, only Primum Mobile. In Hell, Noema tries to comfort her mother. She reveals that there is a good chance of victory, but that she is scheming towards a victory in which Lucifer dies. And Lucifer, tired of waiting for Rudd to decide, sets off with Mazikeen and Elaine, to offer his experience of fighting a War in Heaven to his old enemies.
The final attack is made. Temporarily it is stayed by the sight of Lucifer, on the battlements. The Lilim, both kinds, fear his power. But not Fenris, who hurls a sword that pierces the Lightbringer. The attack is renewed. Mazikeen defends her fallen lord, but is at risk of being overwhelmed. In Hell, Rudd decides at last. Hell will ride to fight for heaven.

Lucifer 3

Interlude: The Beast Can’t Take Your Call Now

This one-off episode is comic relief in the midst of the story, most likely a fill-in to allow regular artists Gross and Kelly to maintain their schedule across the full six issues of the ‘Morningstar’ arc.
Culver Harland, a greatly aged magician, sees the accelerating fall of humanity and sacrifices to summoning the most powerful demon in Hell to do his bidding. Unfortunately, the most powerful demon in Hell right now is Gaudiam. Harland offers to sell his soul. Gaudiam invites Spera in on the deal. She, having more sense than him, doesn’t want to know until Gaudiam explains he’s going to use the mummified body of Eriti that he left as a tip for that cute waitress: Spera can’t resist watching the inevitable screw-up. Gaudiam retrieves it from the waitress’s home, breaking his heart in the process because she’s in bed with someone.
Harland gets the standard deal, three wishes. Gaudiam thinks he’s proofed against trickery but he’s Guadium, remember. Harland wishes for youth and perfect health, he wishes to be taken to the now empty Hell, then he wishes to be Lord of Hell and all its denizens, which currently number two: Guardium and Spera.
So, with Eriti in his possession and the two demons as salves, Harland sets about fulfilling his every wish and urge, just like you would. And boy is he indulgent.
Of course there is a comeuppance. Rejected by the sex-bomb Harland, Spera wishes him his brief happiness. She explains that sooner or later the usual occupants of Hell will be back. She even lists the powers. It’s impressive. Harland wishes on Eriti that the only power that shall work in Hell is his own. Oops. Without Eriti’s power… Oft evil will shall evil mar, as this guy called Theoden once said.

Lucifer 4

Morningstar resumed

The battle is paused. Lucifer has fallen, but Fenris cannot find the bodies. This is because they have fallen through into Elaine’s Creation, where one of the centaur healers closes Lucifer’s wound. Though she counsels rest, Lucifer dispenses with such advice. Elaine opens a gateway to return them to the fray.
Where Rudd’s hordes from Hell have arrived, like the Riders of Rohan, to sweep down and battle not just the Lilim but the forces defending Heaven: all are to be defeated. But not Fenris. He doesn’t stay to fight. His only goal is Primum Mobile, and Destruction. Rudd slaughters the Lilim. Lilith fights on, defiantly. Duma enters the Silver City to accept the peaceful and bemused surrender of the angels. And Fenris has himself hurled into the City by a siege engine.
Lilith is found, her legs and lower body crushed under her horse, her fate sealed and now repenting and saddened. Inside the City, Fenris picks up Lucifer’s scent. Lucifer has led his little band to the foot of the endless stairs that lead to Primum Mobile. Fenris follows. Rudd stays behind to stop him whilst the Morningstar, Elaine and Mazikeen ascend. Before he goes, understanding that he is going to his death, he asks Elaine to restore Creation without a Hell. She would not have done so anyway, she hasn’t got the stomach for it. Rudd is content.
The others reach Primum Mobile. Elaine sits on the throne, reverting physically to the twelve year old girl she is. She prepares to speak the words. Below, Rudd and Fenris confront each other. Rudd’s skills are enough to evade the Wolf’s attack, even to wound him, but Fenris is a god, and immortal: he shapeshifts into a bolt of black lightning which blasts through Rudd. And shatters Primum Mobile before Elaine can complete her task.
Destruction is assured.
Or is it? Elaine wakes in a new and incomplete place shaped to look like her bedroom. The further she advances, the more her surroundings shape herself around her, until she smells toast and finds her mother in the ‘kitchen’. Only it’s not her mother, but Yahweh, who wants to talk. After taking on various familiar shapes, he settles into a portly man, with large moustache, bowler hat and umbrella: a silly, but not offensive caricature.
In the shattered ruins of Primum Mobile, Noema arrives to watch the final destruction. Fenris slowly reforms himself, intent on killing her and Mazikeen. But Lucifer goes into battle with him. He might prevail, to Noema’s surprise, but her plan requires otherwise: she flings a blade into Lucifer’s back.
Yahweh has come to the point of deciding what to do with his Creation and everyone in it. He holds it in his hand, they look at it from outside. He has learned to apply flexibility. There is to be a debate. The other person is Lilith.
Now that Lucifer is yet further wounded, his failure seems assured. But, by an act of pure Will, he gets to his feet, draws the knife out of his back and grapples with Fenris. And inside the Wolf’s guard he seizes the God of Destruction’s head and crushes it in his hands, to Noema’s shock and horror. How could he? But Lucifer has chosen to hold all his remaining power in reserve, rather than spend it on resisting what’s already come, so that he can have this moment.
Now, as by any measure Noema has moved against him, he is no longer bound by his promise to the Basanos that he would not hurt her.
In Yahweh’s edenic garden, Lilith argues fiercely for destruction. To exist is to feel yourself incomplete. His Creation is one of pain, torture and despair, in which beauty is only an occasional accident. He must end it. For the ‘defence’, Elaine refuses to argue. She cannot take responsibility from the billions of humans this involves. These are Yahweh’s responsibility, as they always have been. If he is to kill all of them, it must be on his shoulders.
Lilith argues that, by default, she has won. Yahweh muses that as the end of Creation will be Ab Aeterno, i.e., from the beginning, so that there will never ever have been Creation, it is not killing, but Elaine points out that this is still ending all those possibilities: he cannot evade that way.
At Primum Mobile, Noema cowers, proclaims her extreme youth, offers any reparation. This is what Lucifer requires. He is aware of what is happening elsewhere. He uses Noema to send a message to his father. Lilith refutes this as being against the rules of the debate: one voice for each side, no more. But Lucifer pleads no cause. Instead his message is simply a dagger, bloodied. Yahweh regards it.
He holds creation in one hand and the dagger in the other, and asks the two debaters to interpret Lucifer’s message for him. Lilith claims that it supports her, that it advocates destruction. Elaine sees otherwise: it is a warning that if Yahweh lets the two Creations die, he will purse his father to his death. Yahweh smiles. He reminds both of them, but especially Elaine, that there are three Creations.
Fenris is dead. Noema has fled. Mazikeen has survived. It’s down to Elaine now. At least if she fails, Lucifer points out, they won’t know about it. But the decision is about to be made. Yahweh breaks the rules, hears the rag doll Lucifer has sent. She, in turn, relates the story of the Gordian Knot. Lilith doesn’t understand it but Elaine does. Yahweh has been trying to decide whether to repair Creation or end it, but there is a third choice. Yahweh will cut the knot, let things play out, in short, do nothing, a most alien notion. It will be up to Elaine now.
Lilith attacks, in anger, but her voice is no longer required: she died on Armageddon Plain and is now destroyed. Elaine returns to the shattered Silver City, in her 19 year old form, no longer blind. Yahweh’s creation is doomed to fail because he is no longer part of it. Because Lucifer spilled blood at Yggsdrasil, his Creation will fall with it. Only Elaine’s Creation, bound to her name, can survive.
So Duma summons the fastest and strongest angels he can find. Elaine draws a gateway, two of them, signed with her name. The Yahweh Dance will start again. Four angels each take a corner of one gateway and fly away, as fast as possible, in all four directions. She, Lucifer, Duma and Mazikeen upon a winged horse take the corners of the other. Is she sure this is what she wants, because there is no going back? There never has been since he pulled her out of someone else’s death.
And Elaine flies across Lucifer’s Creation, hauling a blanket of light behind her, reduced to mere will, until she sees Lucifer flying towards her, and two others from each side. They meet, simultaneously. There is nothing but the Void, and the power building up in Elaine. Lucifer defines it as apotheosis: Godhead. He advises her to try wrath, to try mercy and to try to find herself, somewhere in between.
Elaine sets off. She finds the cowering Noema, expecting death. Defiantly, she says she doesn’t care how near her games brought them to death, and that she’d do it again, except that Elaine won’t let her. She carries her back through her time-line, changing nothing, except the removal of her powers, and her memory of a life she won’t now live. And Elaine takes Jill Presto from hell to Manhattan, placing her in a life in which instead of rape she enjoyed a spectacular but short-lived romance, from which a baby will result.
In what is left of Heaven, Christopher Rudd, dead so unable to die, suffers the agonies of Fenris’s touch. Solomon, the judging angel, reads him and absolves him. His body disappears. Solomon asks to be returned to Earth: he has not yet earned Heaven.
And finally Lucifer, who is in the remnants of Heaven before what remains of the Host. Creation has been saved, both Yahweh’s and Lucifer’s, dropped into Elaine’s which is now the only Creation, and she, imprisoned by it, the Founder, the Arbiter. She must begin to draw up rules. In a sense, she’s been tricked into it by Lucifer, who was damned if he was going to get stuck with it. Though he thinks she’ll be an improvement on her predecessor.
So Elaine begins to take everything in, literally everything. There are signs that she will become absorbed by it, and the hint that she will be a truly kind and loving God.

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 9 – Crux


The ninth Lucifer graphic novel collects issues 55 – 61. Issues 55 and 58 are drawn by guest artists Marc Hempel and Ronald Wimberley respectively, whilst the remaining issues are drawn by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly. These comprise the stories ‘The Eighth Sin’, the two-part title story and ‘The Yahweh Dance’, plus the three-part arc ‘The Breach’.

Lucifer

The Eighth Sin

‘The Eighth Sin’ is drawn by Marc Hempel, who employs an exaggeratedly cartoon approach perfect for horror situations (Hempel drew the last major Sandman arc, ‘The Kindly Ones’) making him ideal for this one-shot story set in Hell. It is narrated for us, in characteristic fashion, by Gaudium.
It begins with torture. A man is broken but, to the surprise and consternation of all who witness it, a demon offers him a cup of water, and sympathy. He is promptly slaughtered for it. But this is not an isolated incident. To Remiel’s by now expected dismay and panic, this is no less than the fifth such occasion. These things do not happen in Hell!
But there is a new philosophy beginning to take hold. Hell is slowly being Christianised. This philosophy has a leader too: it originates in Effrul, with its Lord, its human Lord, Christopher Rudd.
The Lady Lys is commissioned to approach Rudd’s camp, to pretend a wish to couple with him again, though he rejects her. Nevertheless, he is taken, and taken to the centre of Hell, where the increasingly manic Remiel confronts him, ordering him to recant. Rudd, calm in his certainty, is the exact opposite of the Angel who is master in Hell.
He is subjected to torture. He will not recant. He remains fixed upon his purpose. Again he is brought before Remiel, who is now next to hysterical. Remiel orders Rudd’s dismemberment, and to be scattered across Hell.
But there he is checked. Duma, the Angel of Silence, the elder, the one who took the Key from Morpheus and who has held it ever since, speaks, and his first word is ‘No’. He has broken his vow of Silence, but all there is now from God is Silence. The burden of Hell has been too much for Remiel, who weeps uncontrollably. Duma has been remiss, he must take the burden from his brother angel.
And he gives the Key to Rudd. Rudd is now the ruler in Hell. He must teach them.

Lucifer 2

Crux

At long last, we return to Mazikeen, and her encounter with Lilith, behind the waterfall of knives. It is not an easy conversation: mother and daughter are wary of each other, and their motives are completely at odds. Lilith relates an ancient experience, one that follows on from her story as seen in Lucifer 50, and which leads us into the second prong of the forthcoming and terminal war.
After the confrontation with Heaven, Lilith abandoned her children. Ibriel’s death had robbed her of her comfort in her previous experience, and she found it impossible to tolerate the children, Mazikeen and Briadach, who had killed him. Despite this, Briadach followed her into the wilderness, determined to protect her.
Eventually, Lilith’s path took her into the soft lands, where time and space are fragile and pliable. There she was met by what took the appearance of a macrobiotic restaurant, whose occupants were anticipating her. This is the Barrowjane, which slides backwards and forwards on the tides of time. Lilith boards just before the Barrowjane must leave this low gradient: deliberately, she abandons Briadach. He is crushed, blinded, left in pain, able to see all. This is how he becomes the creature we saw in earlier novels.
Three men have come here to meet her, to tell her of a future far distant. These are Berim, of the Jin en Mok, the Silk Man, an artificial being, and the Angel Sandalphon, who we have met previously. The Barrowjane has shown them a time when God will abandon his Creation, when forces will arise to destroy it, and they wish to aid that destruction, with Lilith and an army – two armies in fact – to challenge the Silver City. After all, Lilith knows its weaknesses: she and her children built it.
Now the time has come to act.
But there is a serious problem and that problem is Mazikeen and Briadach. Mazikeen has committed the Lilim to Lucifer, the Lilim who are not beholden to Heaven or Hell. Lilith is contemptuous of her daughter, and contemptuous of her children for choosing to be servants, instead of maintaining the independence she bred them for.
The pair leave Lilith’s sanctuary, with Lilith pretending to agree to disagree with Mazikeen. But that is a front: Berim, in the form of a monocled white tiger, attacks and disables Mazikeen, and the pair travel to confront the Lilim.
Lilith reasserts her control over her children, through contempt and anger, disowning and disparaging the leadership of Briadach and Mazikeen. Her hatred for Yahweh and her pride leave no room for alternatives and she is fully joined with Berim and Sandalphon, who seek only the destruction of all. The Lilim owe nothing to heaven or Hell. The Silver City is vulnerable. Who but they, who built it and also the Garden of Eden, know these places and their weaknesses better?
Elsewhere, Michael has released his power into Elaine but she is too small to contain it. The only chance of survival is removal, into a space that is nothing but a space, where Elaine, who has been blinded by the force within her, can undergo a practical test, watched by Lucifer, whose wings have been burnt to rags.

Lucifer 3

The Yahweh Dance

In which Elaine Belloc discovers that, like Yahweh and Samael who is now Lucifer before her, she has created a Creation, this time with her name on it. Without help or guidance, she must learn how to be God, to do the Yahweh Dance, by trial and error through first animals, then humans.
Elaine wants to be a hands-off God, to leave her creatures to live and work in peace, with one another. There is to be no God, no worship, no intervention. But humans are as humans do. They grow, they prey, they destroy, hunt and torture in the names of their Gods. It is not easy trying to prevent inhumanity, especially when you are a blind nineteen year old girl with demiurgic powers and no experience.
Elaine tries her best to make her world progress smoothly, to make her Creation work for everyone. Predators kill. If she excludes predators, it leads to overpopulation and starvation. Forbidding religion doesn’t stop them being religious. Dividing the people leads only to two different religions determined to pull down Heaven. Even a society that outgrows religion still wants to break the sky open.
In the end, Elaine surrenders. There are limits even to what demiurges can do. Besides, she has learned what Lucifer wanted her to learn: the Yahweh Dance: how to use the power. His wings have grown back: time to leave this pitiful creation and return to Yahweh’s. Elaine draws a door in the air, signing it with her name at all four quarters. She and Lucifer pass through it.

Lucifer 4

The Breach

‘The Breach’ tells two stories in alternating sequences.
The first returns us to Jill Presto, still pregnant, much closer to term, arriving in LA to seek out Lucifer’s aid to get rid of the remaining baby. ‘Lux’ is closed but the drawn still gather around it. Now that Yahweh has left his creation, things are starting to crumble, especially spiritually. A motorcycle gang attacks, smashing a young girl in the head with a club. Jill, with her silver hand, retaliates and is threatened with being burned to death, only for the assailant to burn himself. The child of the Basanos still protects her. The young girl, dying, sends her to Las Vegas, to a certain casino, to bet on 13 Black.
Lilith forces the Lilim to turn against their old loyalty to their leader and their War leader, condemning them as traitors. Beatrice the former waitress and Mazikeen’s lover, is hauled out as another example of the War Leader’s treachery. Defiantly, she champions Mazikeen. She is sent out into the desert with one waterskin, which Berim, in his tiger form, rips to shreds and spills.
The Lilim are to go to war against Heaven. The Silver City hangs by a thread that the Lilim can cut. The Lilim built them. Therefore they own them, in Lilith’s eyes and their own, and they will now take these places for themselves.
In Vegas, Jill Presto follows her instructions explicitly. She withdraws everything she owns in cash. She bets it all on Red. The ball comes up 13 Black. It is Jill’s version of an offering to the Gods, the Gods of Vegas. The Gangster Ghost God that represents the city accepts the offer in the spirit it was offered. But the Gods are divided on who to back. Instead of an abortion, Jill gets a sucker’s bet: she must cross the desert into Arizona, without eating or drinking, before sunrise, to get to where she needs to be. And she must come to terms with her baby on the way. Just because it’s impossible, doesn’t mean she gets a better chance.
To destroy her abandoned children, Lilith raises the Lilim as a gauntlet to beat Mazikeen and Briadach. They are struck by every single member of the Lilim, and thrown into a pit. There, Briadach’s throat is cut even as he, who sees the future, warns his mother of the nothing that is to come if she pursues this course. Mazikeen is to be buried alive, as Lilith has foreseen But she escapes, striking back at four of her half-brothers who have been set to bury her in her pit. Berim, who has blocked the attempt of Lucifer and Elaine Belloc to enter this creation, Lucifer’s own, admits he cannot keep the Morningstar at bay indefinitely, but he has bought them time, and time is on their side. He sets out to kill Mazikeen.
Jill stumbles through the desert. She must not eat, nor may she drink, but nothing forbids her lighting up the cigar she got from the Gangster Ghost God, a father handing out cigars at a birth. The smoke attracts Coyote, who transforms into a handsome, naked man and tries to seduce her. His seed drives out all others, like a cuckoo: Jill will only bear his child. But the cynical Ms Presto refuses his ‘offer’: she will not belong to anyone. Nevertheless, this encounter gives her journey the speed it needs.
Lilith leads the Lilim out to war. There is a second army to meet, who are also Lilim, but they are the children of angels, or rather a single angel. For Lilith and Sandalphon have raised an army born of their coupling over centuries. No matter that angels cannot engender children, Lilith has quickened, over and again. Sandalphon greets her by saying he has missed her. Lilith replies that she has endured their separation very well.
We jump to Arizona, to a young Indian girl, living with her shamanic grandfather. We learn that she is Rachel, Rachel Begai. She and her grandfather have been forewarned, and now Jill stumbles in, exhausted, almost delirious, unaware that Coyote’s intervention has got her to where she needs to be, in time. Where she is to take a peyote trip, escorted by Rachel into her own womb, to talk to her unborn daughter, Noema. She needs to come to some form of accommodation. The baby is lying breach. The birth will kill Jill.
The two armies of the Lilim meet and proceed to the field below the Silver City, to the east. This is the plain called Armageddon.
Though Rachel tries to restrain her, Jill can’t contain her hostility to the child forced on her by rape. Noema is afraid of her mother, who has already killed her twin brother. Both are the victims of forces that have ridden roughshod over their individuality. Despite that, they have got to trust each other. Noema can forsake her powers for a short period, in order to be born without killing her mother. Jill promises not to try to kill her baby in the time of its greatest vulnerability. Noema sends her and Rachel away. It is time for her to be born.
Lightning flashes in the desert, giving the impression of a gateway opening. Beatrice stumbles through the rain it induces. As Noema emerges from Jill’s womb, two strangers arrive at the door of Sam Begai’s hosteen. They are Elaine Belloc and Lucifer.

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 8 – The Wolf Beneath The Tree


The eighth Lucifer graphic novel collects issues 50, 45 and 51 – 54, in order of appearance. Issue 50 and 45 are drawn by guest artists P. Craig Russell and Ted Naifeh respectively, whilst the remaining issues are drawn by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly. These comprise the stories ‘Lilith’ and ‘Neutral Ground’, plus the four-part title story

Lucifer

Lilith

In an echo of Sandman‘s 50th issue, Craig Russell was brought in to draw a double-length story set in the deepest of pasts, in which we see how Lilith’s rebellion ultimately influences Lucifer to his own. Russell’s beautiful, delicate, clean-lined and sensitive art is joyful to read.
Lilith was created to be Adam’s first wife. Unwilling to accept a subordinate role, physically or otherwise, she left Eden, and wandered, coupling where she would. Her womb quickened with every encounter, until she became mother to the Lilim, the children of Lilith, each with a different father, each with different attributes and aspects.
This is so far back that Mazikeen, daughter of Ophir, the snake god, is a tomboyish child, and already a fierce child, willing to strike her father for disrespectful words about her mother. But Ophir retreats rapidly on the arrival of messengers, sent by Gabriel to judge and condemn Lilith for her lusts. These are the angels Ibriel and Samael: the Lightbringer.
Though Ibriel is willing to parrot Gabriel’s lines, to threaten Lilith with death if she does not change her ways, which are her being, Samael is not so quick to judge. Since God completed his Creation, he has not spoken. Gabriel is the (self-appointed, we intuit) voice of God in the silence, and his is the voice of the Puritan church, forever condemning what strays from narrow lines. He and Samael are already arguing, and have been for a very long time.
But Lilith, who was made for a purpose but lives for herself, loving because it is her joy, seduces both angels. Samael with argument: only she will hear out, and give answers not pat and submissive, to his concerns, his desire for independence, his hatred of his Father for being his Maker, though her words are not sympathetic nor comforting.
Ibriel, however, she seduces in the flesh, and is perhaps seduced herself by his beauty. Ibriel’s passion is the city he wants to build for the angels, the Silver City, from which he is restrained by Gabriel: angels do not build: only God builds.
But Ibriel lies with Lilith and the seed bears flower: a boy, Briadach. The birth is a horror to Ibriel, who forswears Lilith, rebukes her, repents of his sin. Only after she tempts him further, by offering the Lilim as a workforce, to actually build his Silver City does he re-engage with her, though not in the flesh.
This is not enough for Gabriel, the ultra-fastidious. The City rises, beautiful and light. Ibriel beseeches Samael to raise a fountain of flame, a symbol of Life, rising eternally, though personally the Lightbringer considers it vulgar. But Gabriel will not have the merest stink of demonspawn near his finely-drawn nostrils: unless Lilith and the Lilim are removed entirely, he will interdict the Silver City: no angel will enter it.
Unfortunately, Mazikeen and Briadach hear this. They are loyal and aggressive in support of their mother. They lure Ibriel into a trap: a block is dropped upon him and as he lies dazed, Mazikeen stabs him in the heart with a dagger tipped with her father’s poison.
You can sense the relish in Gabriel, even as he positions himself above emotion, filled only with the spirit of justice that comes from the voice of God. Speak not to him of children: this pair have no repentance in them, and they must die. Lilith and her army of her children come to the gates of the City, demanding the return of her young pair. If she is refused, the Lilim will take back what they have built.
And in this impasse, with Gabriel thirsting for blood to satisfy his own lust to give orders, to compel, Samael lights Ibriel’s fountain. Lights it hot and high, hot enough to burn all. It takes the intervention of his brother, Michael, to have Mazikeen and Briadach released, and conflict averted.
But this is not enough for Samael. He renounces his name, takes that of what he is, the Lucifer, and renounces the Silver City. As he leaves, others follow in his wake, though he doesn’t seem to care. Mazikeen gazes after him with the same rapt fascination he has held for her since first he landed among the Lilim.
Lucifer has rebelled. The seed is planted. None can know what seeds they are, until they flower.

Lucifer 2

Neutral Ground

In contrast to Craig Russell’s guest art, Ted Naifeh’s is deliberately ugly, angular, repellent, in keeping with the punk underpinnings. This fill-in is printed out of sequence, having been omitted from the seventh collection on space grounds. It is inconsequential as to the overall story.
It’s one of those stories whose pages are contained between two instants, moments apart, where we begin with the ending and work back to it. It concerns John Baxter Sewell, by day a Law school dropout/Accounts Clerk in a big firm, spotting a financial discrepancy that his boss tells him, shittily, to forget.
By night, John sings in a punk band, the Genital Warts (that kind of band, as the lyrics make it plain). Unfortunately, they’re not the sort of band who should be booked into a goth club, as the subsequent riot and the club-owner seizing Puce’s amp until the damages are paid makes clear. Puce is John’s girl-friend, of sorts, and he’s not to come near her until he brings her amp back. The other guitarist, Marky, goes after her to quiet her down.
Unfortunately for John, this is just before the point his body is seized by the demon Unagar, who’s providing a venue – neutral ground, you might say – for all the Demonlords in and out of Hell, for a Conference. God has gone, and there are things that can be done, and the Conference is there to decide exactly what, who, when, etc.
It’s boring to Unagar so he decides to take John out for a spin, make him give in to all his urges. Drinking, whoring, maxing out his credit card, stealing, public nuisance, spell in the cells and, since things are going so well inside, Unagar takes John back to his firm where he challenges – and strangles – his bastard of a boss before Unagar siphons off everything the man’s embezzled into a new offshore account in John’s name. Then it’s off to Puce’s.
Where she’s naked, with Marky’s head between her legs. Unagar/John smashes Marky’s face in with his own axe and throws him out of the window. Puce isn’t going to stand still to be raped, she’s threatening to jump, so Unagar takes her over, just to make her docile. And when Johnny jumps on her, they both go out the window…
Meanwhile, my Lord Lucifer has turned up at the Conference, to which he was of course invited, as Chair. But Lucifer and the demons are at cross-purposes. Their aims are not identical: theirs will create chaos, and Lucifer does not want chaos at a time that Creation is gradually fading away. He’s just stopped by to say he’s going. And he’s locking the door behind him. With Unagar inside. And John plummeting towards the street.
Unagar is philosophical: things happen. But it’s a shame to miss what comes next…

Lucifer 3

The Wolf beneath the Tree

And here is where it all starts getting very serious, as we turn towards the end.
The arc begins by intertwining two seemingly separate stories. The first of these concerns a madman, Charles Gilmour. Charlie has killed his wife, Sarah, and his young son, Bobby, by smashing their heads in with a ballpeen hammer. He’s been found fit to plead, which is a crock, because he’s plainly not of this world. He sees and hears other worlds and voices, believes Sarah and Bobby are still alive. In prison, the walls crumble and he sees a gigantic tree, full of stars, where his family wait for him to find them. Charlie Gilmour is the madman, and he will be the chariot.
For whom? For Fenris, the Wolf, the embodiment of destruction, he that is the end.
A long time ago, Fenris held a banquet for all his enemies. The meat they ate was his flesh, the wine, his blood. Now that God has abandoned his Creation, and it is beginning to crumble, Fenris has returned, to be its end. First, he must recover all of himself, and to do so he must recall his enemies, those guests at his feast. So, with his aides Abonsam and Bet J’Ogie, small gods of spite and destruction, he attends upon his cousin, Bergilmir, for information.
Bergilmir is properly respectful: not so his companion, Jill Presto, on whose behalf he begs forgiveness. Jill is Jill, caustic and independent and unyielding. That is, until Bet J’Ogie vents her spite on the silver-handed woman who won’t share details of her couplings with Bergilmir. Jill was pregnant, by the Basanos, and she is pregnant still: she is carrying twins, and she only got rid of one.
That’s all of Jill for this volume, and of Bergilmir too. The safest place to watch the destruction of this world is from another one and he’s off into the long grass. He’d take Jill if she’d go with him, and as she will not, he will not soon forget her.
So, with his aides to pave the way, Abonsam the trickster, Bet J’Ogie to beguile, Fenris tracks down his targets, old Gods, long past their utility if not their arrogance, tracks, locates and eats, recovering his memories and his self. Having reminded himself of himself, Fenris sends Abonsam and Bet J’Ogie to bring the chariot from his prison. The journey is not easy unless you ride, in which case the chariot, seeking his wife and child, bears the brunt of a journey far from easy.
But what of Heaven, the Silver City? Lucifer regards his own realm as safe, created to his name, not that of Yahweh: mortals may enter until the last moment, but angels? Michael, refusing to allow things to end, determines to fight where his brother abstains. In order to read whether or not there is a future, he visits the Garden of Forking Ways, to consult Destiny, of the Endless.
Destiny refuses an answer that will reveal the future, but promises Michael an indiscretion that will answer him, in two hours. Until then, Michael must wait and dine with two invited guests, his daughter, Elaine Belloc, and his brother, Lucifer, who is equally discomfited at this meeting but chooses to cloak it in sardonic comment and his usual arrogant superiority.
Elaine tries to keep the peace and, when Michael departs, having gained his answer by Destiny’s slip in saying that, a short time from now, the very script of his book changes – there is a future to fight for! – she follows him, leaving Lucifer alone with Destiny.
Lucifer, whose very nature leads him to hate predestination in any form, clashes with Destiny’s implacable complacency. As a gesture, he tears several pages from Destiny’s book and incinerates them. But he is answered by the ashes, which read, Fenris. Yggdrasil.
The world-tree, the foundation of creation. Fenris’s destination.

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Michael has returned to the Silver City. After a final word of apology to Elaine, he enters the room of the Logos, the chamber of the Voice of God. He is the Demiurge. He lays down and sleeps, and in his sleep he uses his power to recreate Creation, second by second, over and again.
Another time, that might have worked, but Lucifer is hot on their heels with the news he has learned, that could shatter his own Creation too. Michael must be woken, which Lucifer accomplishes by using his power to destroy the tower, and the Logos. He, Michael and Elaine must go to Yggdrasil to defend it.
Hard on the heels of Fenris, they walk, and the journey is terrible. Charlie Gilmour has lost his right arm, and his memory of who the woman and child are that he has been seeking. Fenris and his terrible certainty, his purpose and inevitability, are whole, as are the Trickster and the Temptress, the Woman who is both Beautiful and Terrible. But those who walked are worst. Michael is wracked and bleeding, his wings destroyed, Lucifer unconscious and bleeding, Elaine blind and helpless.
To destroy Yggdrasil, its roots must be watered by the blood of a kin-slaying. Charlie’s wife and child are not dead, not yet anyway, Abonsam stole them, left figurines to be killed. But their death is now due, and one-armed Charlie must slay them, with Bet J’Ogie to seduce him to it. And Abonsam and Fenris approach the stricken angels, the trickster pretending another identity, that of a healer who will bring medicinal water to Lucifer.
But Abonsam sat at Fenris’s table all that time ago, knowing of his purpose and it’s end. He is filled with Fenris’s purpose: the Wolf slices open his belly and Abonsam’s last trick is to pour his blood into Elaine’s hands, to be conveyed to Lucifer’s mouth, to poison him with Fenris’s rage, hate and fury.
Lucifer attacks Michael, who defends himself. But, broken as he is, he is no match for the Lightbringer, who downs him with fire. Michael is broken, dying, his blood – a kin-slaying – watering Yggdrasil’s roots. Bet J’Ogie, distracted by the light, leaves herself vulnerable and is slain by one-arm Charlie, himself killed by Fenris. It is done. The end is begun. Sarah and Bobby live, for so long as anything lives.
Michael is dying. Within him is the demiurgic power. It will be released on his death, and will wipe Creation in an instant. Lucifer, humbled by his own errors, must now help whether he will it or not. The only hope of safety is to transfer the power to Michael’s daughter, blind Elaine, the former London schoolgirl. It must be dammed in her, find its level. But can she contain it? Aye, can she contain it?

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 7 – Exodus


The seventh Lucifer graphic novel collects issues 42 – 44 and 46 – 49 all of which are drawn by Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly. These comprise the three-part arc, ‘Brothers in Arms’ and two parts each of the alternating – and linked – stories, ‘Stitchglass Slide’ and ‘Wire Briar Limber Lock’.

Lucifer

Brothers in Arms

This is all but a comedy episode, albeit one with a serious underpinning.
Yahweh has gone, departed from his creation. Two brother Titans, Garamas and Gyges, great of size but not of brain, ponderous but sly, seek to establish for themselves a new place. At first, they try to graft themselves to the Endless, attacking The Dreaming, claiming to be brothers Duplicity and Deceit, attending on family business but, though Dream is absent, the Castle is well-warded. So Garamas, the elder and, marginally, more intelligent, comes up with another idea: they will become Yahweh.
Rather less comically, Beatrice Wechsler, once a waitress at Lux, is driven by an obsession. It is two years since she was used by Mazikeen, since she last saw the half-faced woman, but whores in half-faced masks don’t help and she returns to her day job, waitress at a bowling rink. She doesn’t know it, but she’s involved in something, and the ending is reaching backwards through time towards her.
In Lucifer’s cosmos, on Edom Plain where the Lilim camp, two angels, Zonaquiel and Uriel, seek answers from the Morningstar about what God vouchsafed before leaving his creation. Lucifer tells them that God wished for he and Michael to share the succession. But neither want it. Others will, though, and they will need to pre-empt them.
The Titans continue their move to usurp Yahweh’s space, fulfilling – in heavy-handed manner – his Old Testament role. Beatrice’s bowling alley is destroyed by a wave of something. She survives, but hears voices speaking strange sentences. After being interviewed by the Police, she goes to hospital, to have her cuts attended to. The Doctor allows her to leave by a back door: she too is destroyed as voices speak.
Having gone back in time to usurp Yahweh’s history, Garamas and Gyges come to Lux to borrow Lucifer’s gateway, to reach the Silver City. His fires cannot burn them: they are of God, and the Titans are now God.
But Lucifer can still misdirect them. The gate takes them not to Heaven but Hell, to Effrul, There, he resurrects Effrul himself, whom once he killed. The giant has the power to crush the Titans, whilst they are still getting used to the power of God. It won’t be for long, but it gives Lucifer the interim, which he uses to return, for the first time in uncounted millennia, to Heaven, to speak with his brother, Michael.
The Archon sits in silence at the foot of Primum Mobile, wanting nothing, least of all conversation. So, in the absence of challenge from his brother, Lucifer seats himself on Primum Mobile, the throne of God, and pronounces himself God of this, and his own Creation. Talk about blasphemy!
On Earth, Beatrice, still dreaming of Mazikeen, comes to the cathedral-like Lux, standing outside its gateless walls. But she is now the centre of Garamas and Gyges’ plan: to defeat Lucifer, they will forge a duinum, a duplicate that will embrace and destroy him. For this, they need true memories of Lucifer, from one who knows him. Their discussion echoes the words from the bowling rink: they reach out and seize Beatrice.

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Michael objects to Lucifer taking Primum Mobile, roused to anger as Lucifer intended. Still, he refuses to act, except to threaten destruction of all. There is nothing the brothers can say to one another, but before he departs, Lucifer points out that there is a third who can continue Yahweh’s line, can be a threat to the Titans. He offers Michael a blindfold, so he won’t have to see what they do to her.
Having created their duinum, and sent it ahead, the Titans abandon the near-broken Beatrice. She is taken up by Mazikeen and brought to the Silver City where the Morningstar, having failed to persuade his brother to action, seeks the Armory, where he dons the armour made for him before the Rebellion and the Fall. Mazikeen, dragging the reluctant Beatrice, follows him against the will of all the Angels. She will not allow him to die.
Lucifer goes out to meet the Titans. He is defending himself, not Heaven, though the two are for the moment synonymous. He leaves the Angels in a double-circle, guarding Mazikeen as she prepares to enact the solution through Beatrice. He evades his duinum for a time and battles the Titans, until his fetch catches up to him. Michael intervenes, now nearly as cynical as his brother, but so long as the Titans hold Yahweh’s power, he cannot destroy them.
But there is a way. Mazikeen anoints Beatrice with blood, drawn in strange patterns. Beatrice confesses her love, which Mazikeen acknowledges is already known, even though the young woman knows what the Lilim intends to do. At the chosen moment, Mazikeen runs Beatrice through with her sword. It releases a power that flows backwards, through Beatrice’s experiences, to the moment of the Titans’ revival in Greece, at the start of the story.
And it destroys them. Before they can usurp Yahweh.
Beatrice is not dead. The Silver City stands, and the Angels now gather to send Mazikeen away, she having played her part. But the Lilim has a great need to blaspheme, for which she requires Beatrice’s further assistance. Passion is blasphemy here: Mazikeen bestows upon Beatrice a most passionate kiss.
The crisis is passed. Michael will not take the throne but neither will he allow Lucifer the seat. He will be a more vigilant protector in future. Lucifer will not be needed again.
So Lucifer returns to Edom Plain. And Beatrice accompanies Mazikeen, in thrall to her instructions. Like the rest of the Lilim.

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Stitchglass Stride/Wire, Briar, Limber Lock

Though the remaining four episodes of this volume are officially two separate stories, told in alternating chapters, they are in many ways a more simple story than Exodus.
Stitchglass Slide is told by two narrators, first Thole, then Martin. One is a strange, insect-like creature, that spins emotions into stitchglass, full of beautiful colours. Negative emotions come out as slop.
Thole is building a nest for the female of his strange species. His stitchglass will attract a female who will fill the eggs he weaves with the essence of future children. His slops he empties, neatly, through the slophole, which is one of Lucifer’s gates.
It’s other end is in an attic, in a house, where Martin lives with his parents. Martin is a young boy, a disturbed boy. ADD doesn’t begin to describe it. He is a severe problem child and his exasperated, strained, unsympathetic parents have brought in a Chakra-Balancer, to cure him. But Martin’s problem is Thole’s slops, over which Thole, discovering what he has done, experiences great guilt.
Yet he is still tied into his biological imperative (which echoes of the late James Tiptree Jr’s fantastic short story, ‘Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death’: read it.) When Martin runs up to the attic and into Lucifer’s creation, Thole eventually reconciles to his presence, and begins to care for him. Until his dream-female arrives: massive, vulgar, and more inclined to treat Martin as food than as Thole’s friend.
Meanwhile, following the episode of the Titans storming Heaven, Lucifer has come to a decision, and he wants Elaine Belloc to enforce it for him. Simply put, he had tolerated the presence of Gods, demons and immortals in his realm: now they must leave. Left to do the job himself, he will simply kill them all, it being quicker. Elaine, however, will only kill where there is no alternative.
In Wire, Briar, Limber Lock, (the first line of the skipping rhyme that ends with the much more famous line, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’), Elaine assembles a team of six, to work in pairs. One consists of Mona, with Gaudium, another of Spera, with the tiny Lilim, Elahim Shaer, who rides a small flying dragon. The third is herself, in the body (now a slim young woman of about twenty-one), with the exceedingly reluctant, but dutiful and loyal Mazikeen.
Each team encounters resistance but overcomes it. Being in the body tires Elaine, who sleeps. Mazikeen chooses to deal with one last immortal herself.

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This is Thole. The second half of Stitchglass Slide is narrated by Martin, who understands but resents Thole’s concentration on the oversized and worse-than-insensitive Uuna, whose first act is to walk through the slide Thole has made for Martin, as if it wasn’t there, and whose demands grow ever more excessive.
Piqued, he decides to run away again, to show Thole, but on the other side of the slophole, no time has passed at all. Here, enough has run for Uuna to reach her – well, we’re going to have to call it climax, though there’s really no comparison. She follows Martin, who she intends to eat, and force upon Thole.
Whilst she is gone, Thole struggles against his most deep-rooted Tholeness, and finally prepares a trap for Uuna. All his life, his intents and purpose, must be overridden to save the boy. That’s easier said than done, as even the newly-arrived Mazikeen faces defeat before Martin intervenes, handing her the self-stone Thole had made to relieve him. Uuna is killed, the nest and the eggs ruined, and now Thole must face the Lilim.
But Elaine, angry that she was not woken, arrives with a different solution. Lucifer’s objection is to immortality. Thole is now so committed to his human-animal that he foregoes his immortality. He can stay, and raise Martin as a father – after all, his own parents have been seen to by Uuna. The two live together for fifteen years: after Thole’s death the now adult Martin moves on.
Elaine’s anger at Mazikeen doesn’t last anything like as long, though it begins as if it might. She has left Martin burying his parents, and it calls up bad memories, of her ‘parents’. She and Mazikeen compare their histories in terms of parents and siblings.
The team gathers in a clearing, to tally their success. But the forest attacks them, knocking out Elaine first. But it is she who ends the battle on reviving, identifying the hitherto-hidden spirit responsible, the infant Guardian of the Green (a very new Swamp Thing in fact). It cannot leave this place, it is this place. It can only die, bringing in autumn. Elaine, however, keeps a cutting, for next year, which only Mazikeen sees. It is against Lucifer’s instructions.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Lucifer has summoned the Angels to Lux to show them something. His gateway is dissolving, gradually coming apart. Within a week, no more, the gateway between creations will cease. This is because God’s name is written at each corner, to power it, and God has left his creation.
The problem for them is that God’s name is written upon every atom of that creation. His Name is fading. God’s Creation will shortly fail and cease.
In Lucifer’s Creation, Elaine mentions that the Guardian of the Green said that he was protected by/protecting a final immortal, the Kera Theodmet. Mazikeen stiffens at that name. She takes Elaine aside, promises she will deal with this last entity. She offers to swear an oath that she will not tell Lucifer about the cutting, but Elaine trusts her and hugs her.
Mazikeen goes alone. She knows the meaning of the title, Kera Theodmet and who it means. A woman who had many partners but who was widowed only once. Kera Theodmet, Bereaved by God. She lives inside a mountain, guarded by a waterfall of knives, through which Mazikeen passes. Inside is a garden and a tall, ageless woman. Mazikeen greets her as Mother: Lilith.

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 6 – The Mansions of the Silence


The sixth Lucifer graphic novel is the shortest and most direct to date, collecting only six issues, nos. 36 – 41. These comprise the five-part arc, ‘Nagflar’ and its one-issue coda, ‘Sisters of Mercy’. Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly, with Dean Ormiston, draw ‘Nagflar’, trading pages and themes throughout, whilst ‘Sisters of Mercy’ is drawn in a sweetly cartoon-manner by guest artist, David Hahn.

Lucifer

Nagflar

This is the story of the mission for which Lucifer has borrowed the ship that is made of dead men’s fingernails. It’s mission is to sail beyond Heaven into a place where Lucifer cannot go, for it is too fragile to bear him. This place is the Mansions of the Silence, the edge of the coin of which Heaven and Hell are faces. It is where those dead go who do not belong to, or who refuse Heaven and Hell. It is where the soul of Elaine Belloc has gone, where it is in torment, sewn by some wizened dead God into a Japanese Lantern, a beacon.
Lucifer owes Elaine his life. It is an obligation he dislikes living under for too long, and a mission for which he gathers all the unfinished business he has, whilst he approaches his scarcely grateful brother, the Archon Michael.
The ship is captained by Mazikeen, now incontrovertibly Lucifer’s Lieutenant. It is navigated by Bergelmir, in payment for a joke. Its compass is the ghost of David Easterman, its needle the black pearl that is what Sandalphon made of Elaine’s dead grandmothers. Cal, her quasi-brother, is impressed into the crew, as is Jill Presto, of the ruined arm. Gaudium and Spera are volunteers: he is still committed to the charge to save Elaine, and she says he owes her money.
Whilst the Nagflar sails on into the Mansions of the Silence, Lucifer, freed from all other concerns, leads his brother Michael upon a journey. It begins in a Berlin Museum, with an ancient harp giving way to its internal stresses and shattering, a metaphor Lucifer offers to Michael. The Archon is reluctant to respond: exiled he may be from Heaven, but he is still a dutiful son, who will not interfere with his Father’s plans. Except that he already has, in respect of Elaine. Lucifer probes his limits.
All is not well on the Nagflar. No-one trusts anyone else. Spera, the fallen cherub, develops a crush on the curly-headed Bergelmir, but he has his eyes upon Jill and, after constructing for her a silver hand, that does not connect to her arm but which is every bit as sentient as her real one, he has something else on her, which muffles his voice.
And after everything that has gone on with the Basanos, her arm, her pregnancy and her temporary invulnerability, Jill has something new to live for: really great sex. Spera is not happy.
The first test comes when Gaudium and Cal are sent ahead on reconnaissance. They discover an area of great mirrors ahead, guarded by flying creatures. Cal disappears. The attack leads the Nagflar into crashing through the mirrors. Bergelmir knocks out the crew and pilots alone: an inversion of Jason saving his crew from the Sirens.
Lucifer leads Michael to the point he wishes to reach. His brother will not fight against their father, nor assist Lucifer to become him, an insult for which Lucifer strikes Michael, trying to raise his anger at things God has done. Michael repeats his faith in the Plan. Lucifer offers to lead his brother to a place where he can see that Plan.
Ahead, in the Mansions, the dead God plots for his visitors (a meta-commentary by Carey, echoing Neil Gaiman’s running meta-commentary throughout the entirety of ‘The Kindly Ones’ in Sandman). Helplessly, Elaine’s lantern stretches to try to touch another into which is woven her best friend, Mona Doyle.
Cal, or another version of him, more confident, more aggressive,, without the stammer, returns to the Nagflar. Lucifer leads Michael to the Land of Pain, where a would-be attack by a hungry Zim’et in her frightening form is deflected into cheerful servitude as the young, short-haired blonde girl. They are travelling to Great Scoria’s castle to plunge into God’s thoughts.

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The Nagflar sails on, through a region of pink plasma against a purple background. Mazikeen tells the crew that Lucifer could not guide them, nor warn them of the perils because he has never been here. His presence is too great for the Mansions, their very fragility would lead to their destruction if he were to set foot here.
The original Cal has been taken before strange shades. They are the Angelic Dead, his cousins, the remains of those who fought and died in Heaven when Lucifer rebelled. His body is returned to the Nagflar by more flying creatures, attacking again as the ship finds its way barred by an immense wall of thorns. Mazikeen orders that they ram the thorns.
In Scoria’s basement, the Sons of God dive into his thoughts. God speaks to them, words of praise that simultaneously denigrate everything they have ever been and done. He flatters himself with the perfection of what he has done, with the Plan that has endured, faultlessly, to this very moment. They can neither speak nor move because there is nothing for them to say or do. Everything is as their Father intended.
Beyond the wall of thorns, the Nagflar has been beached, half-wrecked. The effects of the crash, of the transition, have changed many. Easterman has his body back. So too do the grandmothers, in time for the impact to kill them. One Cal is dead, the other distraught, but impressed by Mazikeen. Gaudium and Spera have regained their cherub-forms. Bergelmir is alive but has a broken leg: he stays to act as rearguard.
And there is a new form, a blurred figure, a naked blond boy aged about twelve, who aids Jill Preesto. He gives his name as Eikon. The party moves on.
God’s plan becomes plain. He has blown a bubble of glass and for it to be perfect, the circle of eternity has to be closed. The purpose of the Rebellion was to determine which of his two Sons he would choose for that aim, the only moment of Doubt in all of creation.
Jill grows suspicious of how Eikon is always hanging around her. When she confronts him, he admits his status: he is her son, the seed in her womb. Jill recoils from the child of rape. Eikon claims they are one soul, indivisible, but she sees in him only the manipulation of the Basanos. Besides, the magic here might have made him flesh, but it has made her vulnerable. She can bruise here, and if Eikon messes with her head any further, she will do even more.
As the third assault approaches, Mazikeen takes the chance of releasing the last weapon she has carried, the monster in the bottle, Erishad’s baby. It destroys their pursuers once and for all. It might so easily have eaten them.

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Michael emerges from the pool of God’s thoughts. He has been stirred to anger. All his life he has obeyed God, and his reward is to be pitied? He ascends, bursting out of the castle. Lucifer emerges more circumspectly, not wishing to miss anything. He leads Zim’et a distance away but tells her to go further, where is not important except that it be away from the Silver City. Everything has changed.
At last, Lucifer’s agents reach the garden of the lanterns. Its tender greets them with coldness: he is, or was, the God Tsuki-Yomi, son of Inzanami, killed without honour in his home, disposed to here by Lucifer and set to deny Lucifer what he wants. Lucifer cannot come here, only his proxies. And it matters not that Mazikeen runs him through with her sword: he orders causality here: the wound is hers.
Cal attacks but is flung off. Easterman turns to glass, the cherubs to stones. Jill’s silver fist hurts him momentarily, but he is quick to retaliate. Eikon seeks to protect her but is burned horribly.
In the Silver City, the Archon Michael breaks his exile. He will attend upon Primum Mobile, upon God’s manifestation, and he will destroy an angel that seeks to intervene. But the door is open.
God watches both his sons as they make their choices. Lucifer is bound for the Mansions of the Silence, where his proxies have been defeated and where Tsuki-Yomi is weaving pain for them. His Father offers the chance to speak any final words but Lucifer declines: there is no point. They are each incapable of learning from the other.
So Lucifer attends the Nagflar, to which Bergelmir hands, crucified. Taking its anchor, he drags the half-destroyed ship to Tsuki-Yomi’s garden, crushing him and ending his interference. Cal is killed, Easterman shattered. The bottle he used to hold Erishad’s child collects Elaine’s spirit, and she drags Mona with her. Lucifer has trodden the Mansions of the Silence: the rules of engagement have changed. Everyone boards the ship. The burned Eikon tries to follow, but Jill kicks away the gangplank, leaves him to be destroyed along with all of the Mansions, all its occupants.
Bergelmir berates him for a monstrous act that his Father will not let him leave unpunished. But Lucifer has later information. In the Silver City, Michael leaves the Primum Mobile. He announces to the Angels that it is empty. God has left this place. Forever.

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Sisters of Mercy

A tale is told in Lucifer’s creation, by the centaurs, mother to daughter, of how the Maker brought the Sisters to them.
The Nagflar crashes into Lucifer’s creation. The Morningstar dismisses his crew, those who survived, and returns the ship to Bergelmir’s custody. He restores Mazikeen, and releases Elaine and Mona, who manifest as ghosts of young girls, thirteen year olds in school uniform.
What is to be their fate? Lucifer can restore them in their own bodies, or send them back to the start with new bodies, new births. The girls are undecided, cannot agree, and Elaine negotiates a ‘trial period’: three hours back in their bodies, in London, where Elaine has been dead for a month.
Mona’s only thought is Pop. When did S Club 7 become S Club 4? She haunts Woolworths, shoplifts with enthusiasm, but is caught and taken to the Manager’s office: no release without a number, school or parents. Her solution, as time runs out, is to throw herself out of the window: dying isn’t anything like so difficult when you’ve done it before.
But Elaine explores her life. Barry has returned to school, though he’s still far from well, but Sarah’s still in the hospital. She gets to say one goodbye, at any rate. At home, her mother Barbara is absent, but her father Matthew – or rather Cestis of the Jin En Mok – is there. Cestis is in agony, increasingly unable to hate, forced to love Elaine because Matthew Belloc loved her, he really did.
In the end though, it’s not enough. It would have probably been the same anyway. Elaine rejoins Mona at Lucifer’s rendezvous. They can’t go back and they don’t want to forget who they are. But Elaine has a wish. It came to her when she met Duma in Hell. She wants to be a Guardian Spirit, of everything.
Lucifer resists. He has forbidden worship in his creation. But Elaine doesn’t want worship, just to do. And Mona likes the thought as well, though perhaps not of everything, like Elaine. Eventually, to the Morningstar’s utter exasperation, she elects to become the Guardian Spirit of hedgehogs, but then if you have to have gods, the farcical ones are probably best at bringing the idea into disrepute. He names then tutelary spirits, and leaves this creation in their hands.
Thus the Sisters of Mercy, who are not named or worshipped, extended their benevolence.

Lucifer, the Morningstar: 5 – Inferno


The fifth Lucifer graphic novel collects issues 29 – 35, comprising the four-part arc, ‘Inferno’, the single episode ‘Bearing Gifts’, and ending with the two-part arc, ‘Come to Judgement’. Dean Ormiston draws ‘Bearing Gifts’, Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly the two arcs, except for part 2 of ‘Inferno’, which is drawn by Craig Hamilton over Gross’s layouts.

Lucifer

Inferno

The year is up and Lucifer, bereft of power, must come to Effrul to duel Amenadiel. Remiel, Who is Set Above Those Who Rise, ruler of Hell, is determined that Lucifer must die. He orders the high Lord Azul, of Effrul, to ensure this outcome, to subvert the Code Duello. To ‘protect’ Azul from exposure, Remiel provides that Lucifer shall be housed by the Duke of Gly, the fomer Christopher Rudd.
Rudd narrates this story, which encompasses two strands, in the form of a letter written after the facts to the patron he has betrayed. Rudd, it would seem, has plans for the overthrow of Hell, plans that catch at least a part of the attention of his guest, preoccupied as he is with duelling the former commander of the Armies of Heaven. The painfields of Gly lie fallow, ‘for a season’.
Remiel’s abuse of his power begins with the suborning of some of Rudd’s men to attack Lucifer in the streets: that they are all killed by the Lightbringer and his host is unimportant beside the fact that Lucifer is wounded by a dagger, that Lucifer can be wounded.
Next, Azul is required to send assassins, one a demon, the other a shame-wrought, self-tortured cherub. Careful preparation by Lucifer and Rudd sees the death of one, but the Lightbringer is infected with apathy, doubt, overwhelming loss of purpose, by the cherub. He is in danger of forfeiting the duel by being unable to bring himself to the killing field.
Meanwhile, Rudd writes of Mazikeen and the Lilim and their mission for Lucifer: to pursue Susano-o-no-Mikoto and retrieve the two feathers in which Lucifer’s powers are contained. But Susano is no fool. He has been headed away from his goddess-mother’s realm, but he has a place of refuge, and he is subtle in his schemes to divert, so that by the time he reaches his sanctuary, a castle isolated in a sea of fire, only Mazikeen remains to follow him.
Which is the whole purpose. Because the castle has been constructed by and for Scoria, of the Lilim, the Great Artificer, a maker of consummate devices, with an ego to match. He is a massive, bulky, hairy, almost-gorilla-like man. He is also the ex-husband of Mazikeen, who is the price of Susano’s passage.
Unfortunately for the Japanese God of Thunder, Great Scoria’s superiority complex has extended way beyond obsession. He needs an audience. He needs raw material. He has drilled down into the very liquid thoughts of God. He intends to become God.
All he needs is the abasement of his recalcitrant wife, who has nothing but contempt for him, mocking him even as she is whipped. It matters not: Scoria fears only that his greatness, his seed shall die out: he will rape Mazikeen and impregnate her.

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In Effrul, it appears that Lucifer will forfeit through non-appearance. But the blatancy with which the situation is being manipulated causes the silent angel, Duma, to revolt. He brings Lucifer to the painfields where the infliction of pain upon him drives the maddened cherub out. He arrives to begin his duel: Remiel’s attempt to progress with the forfeit is shouted down. Hell wants its battle.
But Rudd has intervened. In his opening words, he speaks of betrayal, leading to the death of an angel. Now he executes his purpose by presenting a casket to Azul, a casket that he says contains a kerchief stained with Lucifer’s blood. It will call to him, betray his presence. Azul surreptitiously passes it to Amenadiel, as Rudd knows he will: he and Lucifer have already been warned by the Lady Lys that Azul has been suborned, in return for their promise of support for her inheritance of Effrul.
The Code Duello is very specific, given the powers available to those demons that perform it: the victor must tear out and eat the heart of the loser. Amenadiel uses the casket to directly locate Lucifer, beats him, tears out his heart and eats it. But it is not Lucifer’s heart. It is the heart of the demon assassin, and it is poisonous. But if Lucifer’s heart has been placed elsewhere, the duel is forfeit.
Lucifer tears Amenadiel’s heart from his breast and eats it. He returns to claim victory.
But there is the matter of Lucifer’s heart not being in the arena, and the forfeit Remiel is determined to exact. But it has been there all along. The casket borne by Amenadiel did not contain a blood-stained kerchief: it contained Lucifer’s heart. Even then, Remiel would exact but…
There is still Mazikeen, however. Great Scoria is winched into position above her by his mechanical servitors, which he instructs in Ruhok, the demon language. Mazikeen, daughter of Ophur, was never taught Ruhok, because she was a woman. But her father talked it. And she listened. And a few words are all that is necessary for those servitors to close Scoria’s throat, and prevent him from speaking whilst Mazikeen takes up a monkey wrench and performs a very private divorce hearing.
Devoting a minute to Scoria gives Susano a minute in which to escape. His only escape is up, to the roof. Mazikeen gives him one final chance to surrender the feathers but his oaths and his hatred demand he resist. Even the time taken to search for the feathers may doom Lucifer. But Susano, for all his subtlety, does not know that Mazikeen does not need the feathers, only to destroy them. She hurls him to his death in the circle of flames, and their power is released, to reinvigorate Lucifer.
Suddenly, there is no question of Lucifer forfeiting the duel.
Rudd completes his letter to the imprisoned Azul. Lucifer meets with Duma before leaving Hell. There are now two who have defied their Father’s will, and it pleases him more than expected. But Duma indicates that there is a third. This is news to Lucifer. He wonders if their Father has begun to be afraid yet.

Lucifer 3

Bearing Gifts

This is a single-issue story with little or no bearing on the ongoing narrative save that it briefly features Gaudium shopping. It’s about Sabah Al-Daddagh, once of the Gabon, now running a small shop in America. He is a middle-aged man, stout, almost bald, who wears little round glasses and a splendid fly-away moustache.
Sabah is a good man. He lives his religion, does good to others, loves his wife and has an inoperable tumour that will kill him in an unspecified, but obviously short time.
On the night of the story, his store is visited three times by a young woman called Miss Zim’et, a skinny girl with short blonde hair, a regular with whom he flirts with a gentle, almost stately courtesy that is a joke between them.
On the first visit, to buy all manner of unusual things for her sister, who is pregnant, they are interrupted by robbers with a gun. In Gabon-French, Miss Zim’et tells Sabah to close his eyes. When the sounds end, the robbers are gone. Clumsily, he tries to watch the security tape. What little he sees is terrifying.
In the midst of that Miss Zim’et returns. What she wants now are all the curse-words Sabah knows, spoken into a small leather bag. Whilst he does this in private, calling up his taxi-driver brother for assistance, she talks with Gaudium, who asks if she’s hungry: not now, she’s stuffed.
After she leaves, Sabah’s thoughts turn to his cancer, and what he will say to his wife. He cannot remember any swear words except ‘Bloody’.
But Miss Zim’et returns. The curse-words weren’t enough: a greater sacrifice is needed. She takes him with her, into another world, one of demons, in which she is at home. Sabah is full of fear and determined acceptance of God’s will. He has done nothing to deserve this, he has been a good man. But it is a more special sacrifice that must be made to allow the baby of Zime-etnu’s sister to be born. Understanding at last, Sabah offers up his tumour. Miss Zim’et smiles.
The baby is born. Sabah is returned home. Zim’et is not yet ready for a baby herself but when the time comes she will choose Sabah, in his sleep. In the meantime, he returns to his wife, who murmurs in her sleep, asking if it has been a tranquil night. Smiling, Sabah answers that it has been a quiet night.
This is a simple, quiet, sweet story, one of the best Carey wrote in the entire series. I will say no more about it.

Lucifer 4

Come to Judgement

Elaine Belloc is dead. Strange things have happened around her. Strange people attend her funeral, including the ghost of Mister Easterman. A grave, grey-haired man with a scarred forehead. A tall man with long blond hair. Two disrespectful and ugly children. Her parents. And a detective, on a holy mission to find and punish Elaine’s killer. Officially, he is Solomon Douid. Solomon, son of David: God’s detective.
Whilst Solomon is digging into Elaine’s death, questioning and examining the parents, watching Matthew Belloc punch his hand into a tree until it is bloody, Lucifer travels beneath the world. The next stage of his plan involves a voyage, into the Mansions of the Silence. He has selected a crew to act for him: all he needs is a vessel.
Whilst Solomon watches the Belloc home until rewarded by the sight of Gaudium retrieving something from it, whilst he follows him across the Atlantic to America, Lucifer comes to the cavern in which blinded Loki is bound, his eyes burned by the serpent that drips venom into his sockets. In order to speak without interruption, Lucifer burns the serpent away. In return for a promise that, on the day of Armageddon, Lucifer will carry him up to see the destruction of the Aesir, Loki agrees to Lucifer taking the Nagflar, the ship made of dead men’s fingernails. Lucifer must go to Loki’s brother, Bergilmir.
Gaudium’s mission was to collect the jet bead that is Elaine’s dead grandmothers. Meleos and Michael are now working together to further the Lightbringer’s plans: it is the only feeble hope Michael has of redemption. Unfortunately they are interrupted by Solomon.
One by one, he interrogates them, learning Elaine’s story, of her life and death. But none of them are guilty. Before he leaves, however, to pursue his suspicions, Michael warns him of the paradox. God did not care to save Elaine’s life, in fact he forbade it. It is not God who has sent Solomon the dreams that have started him on this pursuit. He should think on this.
In Jotunheim, after witnessing an impressive display in improving the strain of intelligence in the Giants, Lucifer comes to Bergilmir’s lodgings, only to find no-one but a crone, contemptuous of Loki, the half-Aesir. She sets a condition upon leading him to Nagflar, that he walk before her, carrying an axe, where she directs, without looking anywhere but directly before him, and that he kill the first living thing he sees.
It’s an old tale, and we know there’s going to be a mirror somewhere down the line, but so does Lucifer, and without looking to either side or looking back, he reaches behind himself to the ‘crone’ and throws Bergilmir into the mirror, before he sees anything else.
Caught out, Bergilmir pleads a joke, and leads Lucifer to the ship. In England, Solomon traces the path of Cestis of the Jin-en-Mok back to where the creatures remains. To take on the appearance of Matthew Belloc, it killed and ate Matthew Belloc. But the Basanos bound her to that shape: Cestis cannot change again, and every day she wears the flesh of Matthew Belloc, she becomes even more Matthew Belloc.
Cestis wants the pain, the ending, the release of Solomon’s bullet. But he refuses it. The creature is punished for her actions, and she will not cause further harm to unknowing Barbara Belloc.
Solomon is old to be learning nuances. Later he contemplates Michael’s words, ponders who might have usurped his dream, turned him from an instrument of justice into one of vengeance, tormenting Cestis yet further. It would have had to have been a monster who sees the Universe as only a box of tools…
Solomon rejects this thought even as Lucifer looks out upon the Nagflar.

Beyond the Stars… Joan Porter R.I.P.


When I commemorated the passing of Greta Tomlinson, former assistant to Frank Hampson and model for Professor Peabody, I thought then that she was the last of those who contributed to Hampson’s studio and the incredible work they did on Dan Dare. I have now learned that I was wrong, but sadly only because another of those creators of magic has passed away. This was Joan Porter, formerly Joan Humphries, a very private person, who has died aged 96. If any still remain, I am not aware of them.

Joan Porter was one of the first assistants brought in by Hampson when first organising his studio, when Eagle and Dan Dare were still a secret not to be unveiled. Apart from a break when she got married, Joan – or ‘Humph’ as Hampson called her – stayed with the studio until it was disbanded by Odhams in 1959. She began as primarily a colourist, but rapidly became the effective studio manager, overseeing supplies, resources and reference material. She was the photographer who took the photos of Hampson and Co modelling panels from the ‘roughs’, to help produce a finished image that was wholly realistic as to light and shadow and the folds in clothing.

And she was the chief supplier of Rennie’s indigestion tablets to the perpetually overworking Hampson.

After Dan Dare, she was reunited with Hampson for the astonishing ‘The Road of Courage’, leading to him writing not just his thanks but a commitment that, whatever he did in future, he would want her to do his colouring. As we know, tragically, there was not to be anything else for her to work upon.

She kept away from Eagle fandom for the most part, refusing interviews, put off by the amount of misleading information being spread about. How she spent her life I don’t know but I hope and trust it was happy for she deserved it, as did everyone who was part of the incredible work they produced under Frank Hampson’s genius and leadership. That is one unbelievable art team they now have up there, and no need to keep the Rennies at hand.