After spending some time on a proverbial beach and wandering through the void, it’s finally time for Lucifer to get back to work. At least, that’s the premise of Lucifer Vol. 1: Cold Heaven, an excellent 6-issue collection from writer Holly Black and artists Lee Garbett (issues 1-5) and Stephanie Hans (issue 6). The collection hits stands today.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Morningstar’s grand return to the ethereal stage, you’ve been missing out. While Holly Black might be best known for kid lit like The Spiderwick Chronicles, the talented writer proves she has zero problem stepping into the deliciously adult material contained within Lucifer’s story.
Since issue 1 was launched in December 2015, the story of Lucifer has concerned the mystery of God’s murder and the two ex-angels who are intent on finding the culprit. Well, kind of. Things have a tendency of wandering sideways a bit when Lucifer starts meddling.
At the risk of delving too heavily into the spoilers for Black and Garbett’s electric series, let’s just say there’s a lot to love in this ongoing series for fans of some comics’ most iconic stories.
What’s in it for ‘Sandman’ Fans
This is the easiest place to start, comparing Lucifer to Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s award-winning, fantastically trippy ode to the Lord of Dreaming. The incarnation of Lucifer at the center of Black’s story is the same trickster who conned Morpheus into taking the key to Hell in the Season of Mists story arc.
Heavily influence by by Mike Carey’s 6 year, 75-issue run from 2000 to 2006, the character is back in a revamped bar — now called the Ex Lux — and still communing regularly with the motley crew of demons and spirits first brought to life by Gaiman.
Hell, Lucifer Vol. 1: Cold Heaven is worth reading for the simple joy of seeing Neil Gaiman’s monstrous take on Azazel get unceremoniously owned by a 13-year-old Haitian girl.
What’s in it for ‘Preacher’ Fans
Never really got down with the abstract story-telling of Gaiman’s Dream of the Endless? Black’s take on Lucifer may feature a lot of the same characters, but the narrative is comparably straightforward, much like Garth Ennis’ run on the awesomely blasphemous Preacher. Like the tale of Jesse Custer, Black’s story is a head-on quest for answers and meaning, not a meandering, philosophical jaunt (no disrespect to Mr. Gaiman).
Of course, there’s another similarity between the titles, as well: the potent attitude. It’d be unfair to say that Black’s whip smart dialogue simply apes Ennis’ aggressive snark, but there’s a certain easily readable cocksure attitude running through Black’s characters that makes her story of the Morningstar as addictive as Preacher ever was.
What’s in it for ‘Fable’ Fans
If you’re fond of Bill Willingham’s now-ended Fable series, in which the stars of old world fairy tales find themselves transplanted into 1980’s New York, the Lucifer Vol. 1: Cold Heaven just might help you regain a little bit of Willingham’s dark whimsy.
Lucifer’s home base, the Ex Lux, is filled to the brim with a weird assortment of creatures who’d be easily at home at any of the bars and dingy apartments that serve as the back drop for Willingham’s tale.
If you’re not careful, you might just find yourself falling in love with Holly Black’s fallen angel, Gabriel, much like you did when you were introduced to a Big Bad Wolf who was struggling to reform.
There’s Still Something New to Be Found
Of course, don’t assume that Holly Black’s take on the most prized of all Angels is just a mash-up of what’s come before. The groundwork laid by the creators who’ve come before her serve only as a springboard for Black’s chilling, funny, engrossing, and oddly lovable tale of the Devil and the world around him.
Punctuated by Garbetts nuanced artwork, Black’s Lucifer is an anti-hero who will always keep you guessing, and who never fails to impress.