Writer: Holly Black
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colours: Antonio Fabela
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Dave Johnson
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
In Lucifer #9, Lucifer once again returns to the underworld, but this time as a spectator. His progeny and his ex-partner are set to do battle for the throne of Hell — and of course, no one knows how to throw a party for the occasion like its denizens. On the issue’s first page, Lucifer meanders through the revellers, showcasing the riotous absurdity that gives this series its signature dark humour. Garbett and Fabela create an otherworldly scene filled with all manner of creatures, hawking gangrenous livers and crispy Christians to the teeming crowd. I was a bit surprised that the Lilim and demons didn’t pay Lucifer any mind, even among these odd monsters he definitely sticks out in a huge black cloak that barely covers his wings.
He soon encounters Meleos, an old acquaintance, who has made himself new eyes since the last time Lucifer seared them from his face in Lucifer: Evensong. He welcomes Lucifer to Hell on Izanami-No-Mikoto’s behalf, though we learn later on that she has her own motives for pushing their son to challenge the Queen of Hell. It was obvious something was up when, in the last issue, she offered Mazikeen an assured victory if she simply refused to acknowledge Lucifer in the crowd; an odd appeal Izanami knew she would ignore out of pride. But Mazikeen is no fool and was aware some kind of trap was being laid, she just didn’t know for whom. In the throes of battle she defiantly spots Lucifer in the crowd and just as it seems Izanami’s plan comes to fruition, something awakens in the dark beyond, where the Host, still reeling from the loss of Metatron and the Presence, had sent scouts to investigate its odd remains.
We get to see a bit more action in Lucifer #9 than the last couple of issues, but Lucifer mostly sits on the sidelines, content to observe rather than interfere. It ends in the middle of Takehiko and Mazikeen’s battle, whom we get to see without her mask for the first time this series! The dialogue could have been tighter in places; I felt there was a lot of explanation that tripped up the flow. I mean, who stops in the middle of battle to explain why they’re immune to an attack? The pacing for the whole issue was a bit off, the momentum they were trying to create leading up to the fight kept getting derailed by backstory and exposition.
There’s a balance that Black is trying to achieve and, despite her excellent characterization, she’s not quite hitting the mark. Since new readers aren’t familiar with the characters, she often resorts to a bit of retelling on their part to get the reader up to speed. As someone who has read Carey’s run, these passages stick out as awkward filler that seem out of character, I don’t want to be spoon-fed the information. I suppose I’m a bit biased, newer readers may need more context to grasp a character’s motivation, especially if it’s based on past events. But I still feel some of these passages were a bit forced, even if I’d been a new reader. There’s also a flashback to how Takehiko and Rosemary first met that seemed largely unnecessary, their entire relationship so far hasn’t been very interesting. But Black ends this issue on a high note, with an unexpected reveal at the end that shifts the balance of power and will take the story down a troubling path.
Garbett and Fabela are on point in this issue as usual. Garbett’s panel layout was unobtrusive and dynamic, with Fabela providing pops of vivid colours that led the eye seamlessly around. The issue was bookended by two beautiful full panel pages, the last being exceptionally haunting and ominous.
Buy it! If you’ve been keeping up with this series (and I strongly suggest you should be) you definitely don’t want to miss Lucifer #9. Even with the lapse in pacing, we get to finally see Mazikeen in barefaced action and the story takes an intriguingly dark turn that will leave you itching to know more.