In Review: Lucifer #1

A major misfire of story, art, and colors.

The cover: Dave Johnson has created a perfect cover (but then, when doesn’t he?) that sets the mood of this book instantly. Lucifer is coming in for a landing on the streets of L.A., Hollywood to be specific. He’s about to come down on one of the famous stars on the Walk of Fame. The name on the star is GOD, which makes his touchdown on the stained shape delicious. There’s a biblical amount of light radiating from the star, drawn as if from an ancient text. The background is photo inserted, and I’m not thrilled with it, but because of the coloring on this cover, it fits in smoothly. A garish cover for the infamous title character in the City of Angels. Does a set up get any better than this? Overall grade: A

The story: Los Angeles, 2015. Lucifer has come to the City of Angels, not without a few harbingers. He bought a building, built it up, and then took over Heaven. Then he left the universe, swearing never to return. However, something happened. The fifth page of Cold Heaven Part One: “Prodigal Sons” by Holly Black has this history of the devil recounted by a demon to his girlfriend on a beach. She asks if he knew him. “Oh yeah. We were like this,” he says, twisting his finger. That’s when a figure falls from the sky and into the inky waters. Pushed ashore by the tide, it’s Lucifer, unconscious, with a hole in his lower right chest. This was one week ago. Black then moves the story to angel Gabriel, who’s not looking or acting like his iconic self. His involvement in this book is to establish the premise for this story, which, naturally, involves Lucifer Morningstar. Why these two are brought together is not new, and Lucifer’s motivation for getting involved isn’t either. In fact, there’s nothing new in this story. If one is a casual reader of angel-centric fiction or a fan of the show Supernatural for the past three years, this is overly familiar territory. That’s the big problem with this issue: it’s been done before. I’m willing to go another issue to see if this heads anywhere, but I’ve been down this road too many times of late. Overall grade: D+

The art: Lee Garbett’s visuals on this book are adequate. Sometimes they look terrific and other times they passably service the story. Things start strong on the first page, which is a full page splash of Lucifer’s arrival by car to L.A. I’ve driven around those hills that overlook the city many times, and Garbett has captured it perfectly. Page 2 is comprised of four horizontal panels that show signs of the devil in the city. Again, these look good. The art on Page 3 is passable, but not spectacular: the second panel is a simple design, but looked at closely (such as on the lights) it’s sketchy. This sketchy quality is fully revealed on the bottom panel of the same page: look at the characters in the background — they are individuals not fully realized. Page 4 takes a while to figure out what is going on. Of all the pages in this book, this is the one that should have had the most detail in it, because it’s selling the power of Lucifer against the setting, and that’s not being done. The demons shown in this issue are drawn for comical effect. Gabriel and the characters that locate him are drawn fine, but there’s nothing about them that make them leap off the page. The second panel on Page 7 has an action that takes a moment, or two, to realize what’s going on. The best drawn page is 10 because an epic quality is placed into an item that is deserving of such, and the reaction from one character in the final panel is perfect. The weapon that Gabriel bears is not well drawn: its emanations are too simplistic. That sums up the look of this book — if you ask a stranger to picture comic book visuals, this is what they’ll see. Overall grade: C

The colors: This book is given a very stylized look with its colors by Antonio Fabela. It’s done to give it a sinister aura, and it does that, without question. However, it makes the visuals come off as clumpy. Everything is brown, black, orange, or yellow. Thematically, this works for a tale following the Prince of Hell, but in a comic it deadens the reading experience. When physical action occurs in the latter half, there’s no intensity because the colors aren’t assisting the art. They’re hurting it. The colors blend into each other. The colors have got to be mixed up more. Overall grade: D+

The letters: A bright spot can be found in the lettering by Todd Klein. Scene settings, dialogue, story title, credits, Heavenly speech, Lucifer speak, and sounds are all brought to life by him. He does a good job on all, though I wish he had been allowed to create unique fonts for others’ speech, such as the demons, rather than have the shape of the balloon dictate a new speaker. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A major misfire of story, art, and colors. I’ll go one more issue, but if something hasn’t improved, this title is damned. Overall grade: C-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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