Writer: Richard Kadrey
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colourist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Todd Klein
Cover: Dave Johnson
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
Lucifer was one of the titles I was most looking forward to in the New Year. Last issue saw the handoff between writers Holly Black and Richard Kadrey, and his debut certainly made me excited to see what he has in mind for this arc. Though a couple of interesting new players enter the story (I was particularly intrigued by Constantine’s female doppelganger on the cover), Lucifer #14 is a bit of a clunky transition, feeling somewhat piecemeal as we check in with various old and new characters, but ultimately don’t make much progress in the story.
This issue starts off with a brief recap of the situation thus far. Off the top, this felt unnecessary and too direct, but it does provide a broad picture for new readers to situate themselves in. I suppose it seems out of place because the story essentially continues where we last left the characters, and the holiday special was a good enough transition between the writers that I didn’t need the refresher to ease into the change. Lucifer #14 falters slightly out of the gate in the first scene between Lucifer, Mazikeen, and Gabriel since we already know where these characters are headed, and they just reiterate their plans, albeit in a huff this time. I love the exchange between the trio, but it’s tripped up by a few superfluous lines. Kadrey’s sharp dialogue, coupled with Garbett’s strong physical characterization, allows the reader to intuit some of a character’s hidden motives, but he ruins the effect a bit by having someone basically explain what just happened, as though we didn’t pick up on it. A lot can be said in a few, carefully selected words, and Kadrey almost hits that balance.
He certainly achieves it in the next scene, as the pace picks up with the introduction of Arabelle Crane. She’s the magic-wielding psychic detective who bears a striking resemblance to John Constantine, with his deadpan humour and good-natured, yet cynical persona. It’s unclear if she does have any connection to the beloved Hellblazer anti-hero, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’s made an appearance in the pages of Lucifer. John Constantine visited Lux in Lucifer: Children and Monsters, looking to gauge the field after Lucifer creates a gateway that leads beyond creation. Before that, Constantine and his lineage were featured in a number of issues from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, which was the genesis of the Lucifer series.
Johanna Constantine, an 18th century adventurer and ancestor to John Constantine, was created by Gaiman in The Sandman: The Doll’s House, in which Morpheus states that “Her kind walk amidst the flutsam of lives they have sacrificed, for their own purposes […]”. Over a decade later in Hellblazer Special: Lady Constantine, Johanna is referred to as the ‘Constantine’, the ‘laughing magician’, and the ‘constant one’, titles that once described John Constantine himself. It’s implied that there have been various incarnations of Constantine throughout time when the evil she faces claims not to be fooled by her new form.
Considering this, Arabelle could very well be related or connected to him in some way, the similarities are too pointed to ignore. She seems to owe some debt to Lucifer and he approaches her with an offer of a clean slate. She must be a fairly powerful and skilled magician if he’s enlisting her help, considering who he’s up against.
The last few scenes of the issue detail the various players independently aligning themselves against Lucifer and merely sets up the next leg of the story. Garbett’s artwork really helps smooth any bumps in the transition due to the choppy pacing throughout, and Fabela’s colouring makes Araballe’s full-page spread dark and vibrant. Her characterization is really the highlight of the issue, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her cunning and sarcasm play off Lucifer and Mazikeen in both the story and artwork.
Check it out. Lucifer #14 recaps the recent events of the last arc, while introducing some intriguing new characters and laying the groundwork for the next issue. Since it picks up exactly where the story left off, I wouldn’t quite classify this as a natural entry point into the series, despite the fact that it was advertised as such. At the very least, you need to be familiar with the last few issues of Black’s run to understand exactly what’s happening and how these characters relate to each other. If you’ve been following the series, you should definitely pick this up because everyone’s story does progress, if only slightly, and Garbett’s artwork continues to be worth admiring. I suggest new readers catch up on the last issues before Kadrey really hits his stride, as Lucifer #14 still maintains that this will be a wonderfully dark and thrilling series.