Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lucifer #1

Lucifer's interpretation of "Dick in a Box."

This will probably be the only issue of Lucifer I purchase. That isn't a judgment on this comic book since I haven't even read it yet. It's just that I gave The Dreaming two issues and decided I didn't want to spend four dollars on the third issue. And I gave House of Whispers two issues but that's only because I bought the second issue before having read the first, after which I decided I was sorry I'd bought the second issue. And I didn't even purchase Books of Magic #1 because I hated Tim Hunter the first time he appeared. I'd rather have a series starring the Dead Boy Detectives.

Did anybody watch the television series, Lucifer? It mostly focused on what's wrong with television networks and the idiot executives who work for them. Somebody pitched a show about the Ruler of Hell abdicating his throne and moving to Los Angeles to run a club and somebody else said, "Can you make it more like Bones or CSI or, for you older assholes, exactly like Moonlighting?" What's worse, everybody nodded their heads enthusiastically and agreed that that would make it better. I suppose somebody had a lot of old Columbo scripts lying around that they wanted to get their money out of. So they passed them around to the jerks in the writer's room and said, "Update these with cell phones and today's modern language standards for more swears. You can probably cut a few minutes out of each episode because Lucifer won't be doing that thing where he says, 'One more question.' Fill in those spaces with some Hell stuff that will retain the interest of people seeking material about the actual premise of this show." Then a bunch of soulless writers (who were only now discovering how soulless they were) went to work turning a good idea into more dreary pap.

But enough about a terrible television show that, admittedly, had a pretty fucking charming Lucifer. Let's talk about how wrong I was about not purchasing the second issue of this series.

Oh, um, that was it. That was my talking about it. That was my positive review of this comic book. I'll write it more directly in the summation.

Grade: A. Writers of comic books don't generally know how to pace a story so that it causes intrigue. Rarely are the times I finish reading a comic book and think to myself while also speaking out loud to anybody within hearing range, "I can't fucking wait to find out what happens next issue, you stupid fuckers!" Mostly, I think either "This writer is trying to interest me in a second issue by not revealing anything at all," or "This writer just spelled out the entire theme of the series in an abundance of narration boxes and meticulous explication." Or I write online, "Scott Lobdell has no idea where this story is going." I remember when I was younger, I would often worry that I might die before the end of a story resolved in some comic book or another (as if I could somehow, post death, regret not experiencing the terminal issue). I can recall several story arcs in Hitman that affected me past the few minutes it took to read the comic. But that doesn't happen anymore. I can blame writers all I want but I have to reasonably assume most of the cause of my disinterest and lack of enthusiasm results from the death of wonder and the crushing wait of ennui that nestles softly over the aging person's face like a cat looking for warmth suffocating a newborn. And, likewise, I should assume that Dan Watters hasn't merely written something so grand and eloquent that I can't help but be infatuated by it. More likely, he has hit notes in the themes that resonate on my soul (which I must profess, using that term, that I don't believe exists but we writers use turns of phrase not because they're true but because, as I mentioned, they resonate). This is a story about Lucifer and there is suffering from the beginning. The suffering continues through to the middle. And the suffering races toward the end to proclaim, "Want more suffering? Pick up the next issue!" One might think that it's the most logical choice in the world, to write a thematic story about suffering around the character of Lucifer. But one might also forget that Ann Nocenti once wrote Catwoman for a few years without ever touching upon the theme of cats. So you might see how easily impressed I can be when a writer makes an obvious choice.

Of course, the choice isn't the main reason I'm impressed. Dan works the them in three separate stories: two involve Lucifer (one before he finds himself trapped in his own repeating Hell) and one about a detective whose wife is dying from a brain tumor. Being a story about Lucifer, Dan also makes sure to work in the conflict between fathers and sons. Since that's Lucifer's big chip on his shoulder, Dan has decided to explore the kind of father Lucifer became. And — big shock — it seems he's abandoned his son.

This is the paragraph of the review that speaks to the art, coloring, inking, and lettering. You can fill it out yourself. I'll just say none of it was so bad that it will keep me from purchasing the second issue. Although that's a really fucking low bar because I kept reading The Walking Dead years after Adlard came on board to draw characters that you could only differentiate by facial hair or sheriff hats. And I got all twelve issues of Michael Cray even though I'm fairly certain that artist was drawing during severe bouts of intense diarrhea.

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