Lucifer is getting a second chance -- no, not thanks to God,but to Vertigo Comics.
As part of the DC imprint's revival this fall, Lucifer Morningstar from The Sandman is returning with a new ongoing series. Lucifer #1 will debut in December, just one month before Fox's Lucifer live-action series.
Vertigo's new Lucifer will be written by author Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) with art by comic book veteran Lee Garbett (Loki: Agent of Asgard). This time around, Lucifer will be tackling some pretty big events, as he has to join with his brother Gabriel to investigate the murder of God. (Yes, you read that right.)
Newsarama talked with Black and Garbett to find out about the new title's launch, what prompted the author to actually kill off the Almighty, and what readers can expect from the creative team's new take on Lucifer.
Newsarama: Holly, is this solicitation right? Did you really kill off… God?
Holly Black: I know, it’s pretty shocking, right? When I was going back-and-forth with editor Shelly Bond about what I might do with Lucifer, I was writing up proposals and each time, she sent me back telling me that she loved the way I was thinking, but I wasn’t there yet. I was too intimidated by what had come before, too scared to really strike off on my own.
Finally, in frustration, I thought: I am going to come up with the absolute maddest idea I can and if that’s not the one, then maybe I’m not the writer who can do this. I sent her one line: What if God is dead and Lucifer has to solve the murder?
She told me to get going on it.
Nrama: I assume that event drives the plot as you launch the series?
Black: It’s the central mystery, the hub around which everything else spins. And it profoundly changes the family dynamics, as you can imagine!
Nrama: OK, before we get into the details of the story, let's back up and talk about Lucifer as a character. Why do you think readers are so drawn to the character of Lucifer and the supernatural world he lives in? And what does it offer you as a writer?
Black: I think the story of Lucifer works for readers on a lot of different levels. There’s a reason that Blake said that like any “true poet,” Milton “was of the devil’s party without knowing it.” We humans, who feel overweening pride, jealousy and desire, often find it easier to identify with him — who couldn’t obey, who wanted change, who stomped out of Heaven in a big snit — than with any angel still singing hosannas in Heaven.
Not only that, but the story of the angels and God is a family story, the story of brothers who don't get along, a favorite child disinherited and — always — the tempting prospect of some grand supernatural reconciliation.
As a writer, the challenge of writing Lucifer is to make the reader identify with him and then shock them into remembering he has a cruel and terrible side. It’s investing them in the family story and then suddenly reminding them that these are not people, they’re mythic figures.
Nrama: Lee, is it intimidating to portray something as grand in scale as God and the supernatural beings who occupy that world? Or does this series take a more grounded approach?
Lee Garbett: I was raised Catholic, so I’m well-versed with the constant threat of hell, terrifying demons and disturbing religious iconography.
But no, I didn’t really find it intimidating at all. I adore all things supernatural and occult, and the whole world Lucifer inhabits is very familiar to me as I’ve been an avid Vertigo collector from launch.
There are elements grounded in reality, with suburban settings and family scenes but they’re mixed in with epic Hell battles, biblical flashbacks and trips through the Dreaming, etcetera. It’s a challenge but that’s half the fun of working on something like this. It really can take you anywhere.
Nrama: Holly, I find it interesting how the devil, which was once one of the most terrifying entities to humanity, has changed to this type of relatable manifestation. Why do you think people are more comfortable in current day with a more familiar and even relatable Lucifer?
Black: I think that we as people like to take the things that terrify us and humanize it, partially because it makes the thing less scary and partially because it gives us the thrill of the forbidden. Look at the progression of vampires — through disgusting nightmares, appealing nightmares, anti-heroes, and then finally heroic leads. We take the thing that scares us and we turn it into something else entirely.
I think that has something to do with the Lucifer I’m writing, but where he is on that spectrum is part of the question of the comic.
Nrama: So how would you describe the Lucifer you're writing?
Black: I see Lucifer as the trickster figure of his pantheon.
Nrama: Is this series at all influenced by the new Lucifer TV show?
Black: I haven’t seen any of the television show and actually had no idea about it when I was pitching. I’m looking forward to it, though.
Nrama; What's it been like working with Lee Garbett?
Black: He’s amazing. I’ve given him some really bizarre, elaborate and sometimes impossible descriptions and he’s handled them with aplomb. His Lucifer manages to be both elegant and cruel and Lee’s art breathes life into even the minor characters in a way that amazes me.
Nrama: Lee, what tools are you using for this series? You draw pencils or do you work digitally?
Garbett: I work traditionally, pencils on boards, pen and brush inks. I go digital for coloring, but we’ve got the fabulous Antonio Fabela coloring Lucifer, who also colored Loki: Agent of Asgard.
He’s doing gorgeous work and is a huge Lucifer and Sandman fan.
Nrama: How are you visually portraying Lucifer himself? What's he like and how do you relate his personality through his face, his body language and other visual cues?
Garbett: Lucifer still carries himself with his haughty, bored elegance, of course but the trick is to make sure he never appears one-note because he’s really the most complex character there is.
So, the real fun is having that mask slip a little, here and there. He’s not as powerful as he once was and he’s in constant physical pain too so that all goes into the mix.