Lucifer: Vol 1 The Infernal Comedy by Dan Watters and Neil Gaiman
Art by Max Fiumara and Sebastian Fiumara
DE Vertigo, pb, £7.78
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Lucifer is trapped. Blind, body-broken, and paranoid, he is kept in a small town, watched, catered to, and not allowed to leave. He doesn’t remember how he got there, or who the people around him are, but he is certain the answers lie under the soil if only he can dig his way to it. But he is thwarted at every turn as if someone doesn’t want him to leave.
Since the loss of his wife, Detective John Decker has started seeing things that can’t possibly be real. Desperate for answers, and to understand his dead wife’s ties to her loser cousin, Robert, John travels to a half-way house for recovering addicts where the residents appear more like guards and not all is as it seems.
Unaware of each other or that they are both searching for the same thing, Lucifer and John must navigate their way through nightmare realms and outwit foes they can’t even see to find the witch Sycorax.
Of the three stories that spin-off from The Dreaming, this is the most complex. The story is told from multiple points of view as well as moving back and forth through time. We see Lucifer in the present, a madman, unkempt and broke, but also in the steps leading up to his predicament in his more familiar suave guise as a youthful, well-dressed, red-haired man. There are a number of flashbacks to points pivotal to the story, but it is important to remember that unless Lucifer is a scruffy, half-dressed man, then it is the past.
It is also the most disturbing of the three. Both Lucifer and John are tortured both physically and mentally, with nightmare creatures on every page. Some of the images are quite gruesome, particularly as Lucifer if ripped apart, and as John descends into madness. In that respect, the artwork is incredibly detailed, conveying the horror of the characters and portraying the sadness of loss which can trip people into doing strange things.
The colouring is exquisite. The Infernal Comedy is well worth a second reading once you’ve discovered the twist if only to appreciate how cleverly Dave McCaig and Mat Lopes have used colour to weave together the different story threads and to leave cues for us to discover.
The only thing that brought me out of the story was the character Mazikeen. Half of her face is rotten meaning she doesn’t form words as clearly as other characters. My flow of reading was broken as I had to work out what she was saying. That is, however, a minor thing in what is otherwise a very clever and intriguing start to the Lucifer plotline that first started in The Dreaming.