Review: The Sandman presents: Lucifer

Taking a look at the source material. 

Written by Mike Carey, Art by Scott Hampton.

Welcome back everyone to the 2nd post in my blog's month of Lucifer! Last time, I took a look at the very first appearance of Lucifer in the Sandman graphic novels. The book itself was very, very good and enjoyable but Lucifer himself left a lot to be desired. He served more as a plot device, a way to move along the story, then actually being a character in said book. You saw some of his personality and his history with the titular Sandman shine through in some dialogue but that was about it. He was a far cry from the Lucifer we have today. Then again, that issue was published over 30 years ago so, the character still had ways of character development to go before he would even remotely resemble the Lucifer from the TV show.

That development is the subject of today's post. Lucifer would remain a background player/secondary character for years before finally given his own, limited, series in 1999 the success of which lead an ongoing Lucifer solo-series a year later. Let's take a look at this limited series, fittingly titled 'The Sandman presents: Lucifer' and see how the devil has grown in 15 years in The Sandman universe, shall we? 

Rachel Begai is a teenage girl whose brother suffers from Rett syndrome. During one of her brother's check-ups, she notices a woman acting very strange around their car. Waving around a red flower, she cries and proclaims that 'he really loves her'. In her joy, she bumps into a hobo who has just found a bag of cash and while Rachel and her family drive home, the news remarks that a whopping 800 people have won the lottery that day. Suffice to say, strange occurrences indeed.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles California, a strange-looking man sits in a bar demanding to talk to its owner. The owner complies, even sending away most of his employees and brandishing a bottle of expensive wine. This isn't a normal meeting however, it's one of celestial proportion. The 'man' is no man at all, but the Angel Amenadiel sent there at the behest God. The bar owner is none other than Lucifer Morningstar, the former ruler of Hell. Amenadiel is sent there with a proposition for Lucifer. Something has been granting humans all of their wishes and is upsetting the celestial balance. Heaven can't interfere, but Lucifer can and he might name his price. Lucifer, after giving Amenadiel some snark, accepts and sets off to find the once responsible for the slew of wishes being granted before the balance of the world is permanently damaged.

For anyone familiar with Lucifer the show, parts of the summary of the first issue will be instantly recognizable. The beginning of the plot is nearly identical to that of the pilot episode. Lucifer lives carelessly on earth as the owner of Lux which in this case is a piano bar instead of a nightclub, but's close enough am I right? After retiring from his position as the lord of Hell together with his right-hand woman and demon Mazikeen. His 'peaceful' retirement is interrupted when his brother Amenadiel shows up at his club with a proposition.

While in the previous post about The Sandman, 30 years later many elements we all know from the show such as Lux and Lucifer's style of dress are here. He's also snarky as hell (pun intended) which coincidentally is also some of the best parts of this mini-series, but I'll get to that later. There still plenty of differences, form Lucifer's physical features adhering closer to his biblical depiction (blond, blue-eyed) and Mazikeen and Amenadiel have many differences but the basis is here and it's clear to see where the show drew from.

While the setup of the story is very, very similar to that of the first few minutes of the pilot episode the rest of the mini-series goes off in his own, different, direction. Lucifer is investigating a 'case' in which someone died yes, but it has nothing to do with the police. To the contrary, while there are actual cops featured in the story they never interact. The story's investigation is very much a celestial affair. Lucifer asks for celestial, or at the very least magical, beings for help or information and the story focuses a lot on this aspect. There's talk about how the 'climb through the darkness of humanity' which starts immediately on the first page, about beings that existed before the universe even and much more. It's not biblical in nature, I feel I need to stress that, but it is very celestial/lore heavy.

In the TV show, the central dynamic is between Lucifer and Detective Decker. There is no Chloe Decker in the graphic novels, she's a creation of the series, but we do have a somewhat of a stand-in here in the form of Rachel Begai. She's new to the celestial world and Lucifer strings her along on the investigation as she seems to have something to do with it all.

I do have to say though that I think Rachel is one of the weaker, if not the weakest, aspect of the book. I just don't think she is that much of an interesting character nor does she have much chemistry with Lucifer. She spends a lot of time oblivious to what's going on, tends to be whiney and impetuous and is somehow shocked to discover that Lucifer Morningstar, the devil, might have used her to further his own goals. Detective Decker, she's not, but she is meant to be the reader's window in the story and she does this job adequately. Also, she gives a lot of opportunities for Lucifer to be snarky which, like the series, is amazing to behold.

You can see where Tom Ellis based is look and performance on while reading this mini-series. It's not quite the same, but it's not that far off either.

Not that much more to say really. It's a good mini-series that doesn't have too many flaws for me to dissect or anything. I spotted a few pacing issues here and there, some panels that definitely could have been cut but nothing too big. The writing is well done, even though it's not Neil Gaiman himself that holds the pen but Mike Carey is not bad at all. All of the celestial stuff and talk about the nature of humanity could become too heavy and complicated for many to understand but Mike writes it in such a way that's easy for everyone to follow.

The art isn't bad either. It's in a style I personally haven't seen used before in comics. The colours have, how do I put this, bleached look. The colours aren't saturated but are rather applied extremely light. Like a painting almost. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I quite like it. It gives the mini-series a different feel than the Sandman which, as a spin-off, is important.

Conclusion

The Sandman Presents: Lucifer is a good mini-series. For those like me, who are fans of the TV series, you'll be pleasantly surprised by all of the similarities you'll see. These don't last too long though, but that's OK. The series is enjoyable and intriguing in its own right. If you're interested in Lucifer's history before the TV show this isn't a bad place to start.

That's two posts for the month of Lucifer done, only three more to go! Next week, after two comics, I'm going to jump to the series itself and take a look at the Lucifer pilot. I hope to see you there!

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