REVIEW: “Lucifer, Volume 2 – The Divine Tragedy”

lucifer 2Lucifer is such an interesting character, not just in The Sandman Universe, but in general, and I’m quite a fan of stories that portray the character as something more than just an ultimate prince of darkness, but one with true nuance who might actually have a point in his ongoing feud with God. This has always been what DC has done with this version of the character, originally developed by Neil Gaiman, then further developed by Mike Carey, and now written by Dan Watters. As evidenced by the previous volume, Watters has an excellent grasp on what makes Lucifer a compelling character – imbuing this version with lots of vulnerabilities to go along with his massive amounts of power. In this volume, we get a direct continuation of the previous volume, furthering the story of the Morningstar and his newly-discovered family. It’s a great continuation of that storyline and a really great comic in its own right. (Mild spoilers for Lucifer: The Divine Tragedy follow!)

Lucifer, Vol.2: The Divine Tragedy (written by Dan Watters; illustrated by Max and Sebastian Fiumara and Kelley Jones)
God is angry. Lucifer has committed an unthinkable act of sacrilege, and now the forces of Heaven have left him with nowhere to turn but the lands of the dead. Much has changed since Lucifer’s last visit to his former kingdom. Meanwhile: a cherub appears in a motel room, a witch queen walks the Earth for the first time in millennia, and Mazikeen gets to break a finger or two. Plus, things in Hell are heating up with too many potential leaders as Mazikeen prepares to fend off a usurper with assistance from an unexpected ally. But with Heaven and Hell so engrossed in their own affairs, who’s keeping track of what’s happening on Earth? Collects Lucifer #7-13.

Lucifer: The Divine Tragedy is really the second half of a 13-issue storyline that began in the first volume, The Infernal Comedy, and concludes by the end of the 13th issue. This volume of Watters’ ongoing Lucifer title picks up directly where the previous ended, with Lucifer, Caliban (his son), Sycorax (Caliban’s mother), and Mazikeen (his faithful assistant) are facing down an army of angels who are super pissed that Lucifer has resurrected Sycorax. Their leader, Raguel, gives Lucifer a respite: Sycorax can stay alive for three days before being sent to her ultimate, and permanent death. Of course, Lucifer has no intention of allowing this to occur, so he sets out to find a way of stopping the angels from pulling this off. Meanwhile, Caliban continues his search for information about his identity and the reasons his parents abandoned him while Mazikeen is tasked with keeping Sycorax safe from the angels.

Dan Watters continues to provide some excellent writing here. This time around, the narrative is far more linear than the previous volume but no less intriguing. Watters expertly jumps around from subplot-to-subplot, giving each plenty of room to breathe and plenty of time to shine. It’s always pretty clear what’s going on, even when you don’t yet understand the ultimate motivations of the characters – since Lucifer always seems to be at least one step ahead of the rest of the group. Watters clearly has a grip on what makes these characters tick as he continues to write them with a lot of nuance and depth; none of them are perfect and each of them has a fairly compelling arc to track. A lot of Watters’ work with Caliban in this volume really lands as we’re able to truly feel what he’s feeling as he searches for a place to fit in within a world that doesn’t want him and parents who seem ashamed of him. It’s also a lot of fun seeing Sycorax interact with some other witches – including one who appeared pretty prominently in The Sandman.

The plot unfolds at a fairly quick pace, always keeping you on your toes but giving you plenty of time to let a dramatic moment sit for a second. Watters does an excellent job of ensuring the plotlines and the character arcs all intertwine and feed off of each other. We learn new things about the characters as we watch them react to the events they’re going through. We see Sycorax slowly soften toward Caliban just as we see him grow harder and colder to the rest of the world. We get to see Lucifer slowly regain his power and his swagger as he goes on this mission to try and protect his family – or at least prevent God and his angels from tearing it apart. Every major reveal happens at just the right time and it feels like exactly the arc has exactly the number of issues it needs to tell the whole story. As I said, this is definitely the second half of an arc that began in the previous volume, but because of that, there’s a lot of payoffs here. It’s some really strong writing. If I had one complaint, though, it’s that the ninth issue really doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story being told; it’s just kind of there. On its own, it’s a really solid story, but it comes in between a pretty big cliffhanger getting established (in issue 8) and resolved (in issue 10) and it just feels a bit out of place, though I do understand its purpose within the greater story. Just felt like a bit of odd placement, that’s all.

The artwork in Lucifer: The Divine Tragedy continues to be as gorgeous as it was in The Infernal Comedy. Max and Sebastian Fiumara trade-off on who does the art for which issue, occasionally doing the artwork for an issue together. In this volume, they get a chance to play with a lot of cool realms that they didn’t get the chance to play with during the previous installment as Lucifer visits various afterlives in search of a suitable one for Sycorax. Each of those afterlives has a distinct look and feeling and it’s rather impressive how well the Fiumaras keep them straight. Then there’s their truly superb design for the angels; they looked sort of how Lucifer looks in his prime, but more angelic (pardon the pun). I just remain impressed by their work in this series. Also, a special shoutout to Kelley Jones, who did the artwork for the ninth issue. While I wasn’t in love with the issue’s placement in the story, it did allow for this guest artist to be brought into the world, offering their unique point of view and really creating an issue that has its own visual identity. I enjoy it when ongoing series bring in guest artists for an issue, and Jones’ stint here is something memorable.

All in all, Lucifer: The Divine Tragedy is a delightful read from stop to finish. Packed with beautiful artwork, an engaging storyline, and more of Watters’ excellent insight into the character of Lucifer, it’s a great addition to The Sandman Universe and a great story in its own right. It’s a lot of fun seeing a more powerful Lucifer than we saw in the first volume of this title and it’s nice getting to see the storyline that began all the way back in The Sandman Universe #1 come to a conclusion here. I really enjoy Watters’ work on this title, along with the artwork from the Fiumara brothers, and I hope they stay on this title for a good, long while as they’re doing some truly excellent work. If you’re interested in picking up this revamp of Lucifer, I’d suggest you start with the first volume of this run, The Infernal Comedy, as this volume is a direct continuation of that one and the two combine to tell a single, epic 13-part story. If you’ve never read a Lucifer comic, these are definitely the ones to start with.

4.5 out of 5 wands.

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