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dimanche, février 18, 2007

 Mourning the loss of Gaiman/Carey's Lucifer

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere . . . God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous." - C.S. Lewis

Some of you might know that I read the provocatively-named Lucifer, a comic produced by Vertigo (under D.C. comics). The label also prints Sandman by Neil Gaiman, which was the comic that birthed the fiction of Lucifer.

Loosely based on Milton's Satan (Paradise Lost), the 75-comic series has tracked the events in the (after)life of Lucifer Morningstar - occasionally also known as Samael, or Lightbringer in the series. The tangent takes off where Sandman left off - with Lucifer becoming sick of being in charge of hell, and deciding to call it a day being the ruler of hell and abdicating his throne to run a nightclub called Lux (Latin for "light") in Los Angeles with only a Lilim called Mazikeen as a companion.

There are many plots and sub-plots that twist and turn like beautiful sculpted vines in the series' entirety - given an assignment by heaven, Lucifer has to retrieve his wings, which were stolen (and sabotaged industrially) from him; he saves the world from certain destruction by Norse gods who were trying to bring about Ragnarok, he fights on the side of heaven, and he even fakes his own death in order to win a fight between heaven and hell. Evensong ties up the loose ends left by Morningstar, where pre-teen Elaine Belloc (right; I covet her dress btw) has taken Yahweh's creation and Lucifer's cosmos, and dropped them both into a creation of her own. This effectively makes her God (or Goddess) of everthing - Yahweh's as well as Lucifer's creations.

Where does this leave Lucifer, then? In the Void, a location outside of Elaine's cosmos; yet paradoxially right where he started - seemingly on par with his Father, Yahweh, God. Both "creators" of worlds in their own right, the final pages depict the final showdown between Yahweh and Lucifer.

Everything that Lucifer has done has been to bring him to this point where he is able to question his Father: ask Him about his purpose, to ask what right the Father has to impose His will on Lucifer himself. There is a great deal of seething, repressed anger and resentment in that meeting - to me, it echoes vaguely of the parable of the prodigal son, but a son who returns home ungrateful to be offered acceptance, but instead questions his Father... on everything.

Mike Carey's Yahweh hits the nail on the head when he tiredly informs Lucifer that for all his rebelling and reasons behind his fall from grace, "no one can be their own maker." The frustration that Lucifer feels is one which stems from something that he cannot change; something that no one can change. No one can be their own maker: it is as simple as that, Yahweh explains.

Lucifer (petulantly and unwisely, I feel) refuses to accept a compromise that Yahweh offers, an offer to make Lucifer equal in knowledge to Yahweh Himself, and disappears into the Void, leaving everything behind. His Godhead, he leaves with Elaine Belloc. His Lightbearing status, conferred onto a heartbroken and bitter Mazikeen. Carrying only the angry scar across his face from his disappointed lover, he just... goes away.

The ending of the series left me with mixed feelings. I confess that I ask a lot of the questions that Carey (via Lucifer) asks of God: why this, why that, why did you ask this of me, what is my function? There are no easy answers to these questions (no easy non-Christian responses, anyhow), and I doubt they can be answered by people who are less than omnipotent and omnipresent. I enjoyed the process of asking though, and the comic pushed the limits on that asking, bringing the questions and the conflicts to life.

(Left: Goya's Saturn Devouring His Children/Devoration, 1819)

For all it's brilliance, Carey's Lucifer is not an accurate, biblical Satan though - far from it. Carey's Lucifer is modelled after Milton's sympathetic, almost regretful Satan, who is tortured by his choice, and questions the path of his existence, which runs contrary to all that we are told of Satan in the bible. Granted, we're not given a lot to go on, but a few things do stand out in Carey's account.

For instance, Carey's Lucifer is a Satan that does not lie because he thinks it is "crass", but we know from the bible that Satan is the Father of all Lies (John 8:44). Carey's Lucifer is also one who keeps his word and pays back his debts, and adheres to a strange code of honour which only he knows the rules. Given that Satan is described as a "lying spirit" (1 Kings 22:22), this seems inconsistent with Carey's "courtly, but unscrupulous gentleman". In this respect, Carey's Lucifer could very well be a male hero in Austen's novels, just sans the compunction and penitance gene I know moomoo's gonna bludger me for that statement, but I've always felt it to be true, right from the outset of the series.

I'm sad that the series has ended, and I'm more than a little upset at the too-neat ending. The series (I felt) promised much in terms of theological discussion: at the outset, it looked like the writers were rolling up their sleeves, ready to tackle some serious issues that people grapple with when discussing matters of heaven and hell, but perhaps I was too naive in thinking that this would be a proper discussion. It is, after all, entertainment.

On the other hand, some good news: Diana and other Gaiman fans: How exciting is it that his best story (imho) Neverwhere comic adaptation has just been released as a trade paperback??? And by Mike Carey as well!

I've held off buying the individual comics in the hope that it'd be collected, and I'm dreadfully excited now! US$19.99, so possibly $28 at Kinokuniya. Yay! The adventures of the Lady Door and hapless Richard Mayhew, here we come! There are too many exclaimation marks in this paragraph!

Libellés :

[Mourning the loss of Gaiman/Carey's Lucifer]
Sngs Alumni @ 18.2.07 { 0 comments }


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