Lucifer (DC Comics)
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The titular character from the cover of Lucifer #16, artist Christopher Moeller.
|First appearance||Dream: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #65 (December 1962)
Historical: DC Special Series #8 (February 1978)
Modern: The Sandman #4 (April 1989)
|Created by||Mike Carey (writer)|
|Place of origin||Heaven
|Team affiliations||The Triumvirate of Hell
Host of Heaven
Various characters who are willing to strike a deal with him
|Supporting character of||The Lilim, Elaine Belloc, Gaudium, Duma, Spera|
|Notable aliases||Lucifer Morningstar
Lord of Lies
Prince of the East
Sunlighter of God
Lucifer Morningstar is a DC Comics character that starred in an eponymous comic book published under the Vertigo imprint, whose entire run was written by Mike Carey. Though various depictions of Lucifer – the Biblical fallen angel and Devil of the Abrahamic religions — have been presented by DC Comics in their run, his modern interpretation by Neil Gaiman first debuted in The Sandman in 1989. Like many modern interpretations of Satan, DC's Lucifer owes much to the character's portrayal in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, though Gaiman adapts the character to fit the fictional DC Universe where their comics are set, where the character exists alongside superheroes and deities from multiple religions.
Later, the character acquired an ongoing Lucifer spin-off series, depicting his adventures on Earth, Heaven, and in the various other realms of creation after abandoning Hell in the Sandman series. Lucifer also appears as a supporting character in issues of The Demon, The Spectre, and other DC Universe comics. Two angels, several demons, a human, and briefly Superman have taken his place as ruler of Hell, and the Reign in Hell series further straightened things out. In 2010 IGN named Lucifer as the 68th greatest comic book villain of all time.
Fictional character biography
In the earlier related series The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman, Lucifer abandoned his lordship over Hell. While Lucifer had previously appeared in various stereotypical guises in earlier DC books, Gaiman's version was unique and premised on English poet and prose writer John Milton's Paradise Lost (at Gaiman's request of the artist, Lucifer looks like David Bowie at the time). In the Sandman series, Lucifer had ruled as Lord of Hell for 10,000,000,000 years after rebelling three seconds after Creation. Over that time, he had manipulated the various demons of Hell against each other, provided a place for dead mortals to be tormented, and led the war against Heaven.
However, at some point during his rule, he had become bored with his existence. He became tired of the various stereotypes and prejudices that mortals held of the Devil, such as the idea that he purchased and traded for souls, which were largely untrue, and that he forced mortals to commit evil acts. He had become tired of his reign over Hell, and felt it an unfair punishment that he should have to rule there forever simply because he once rebelled. In the Sandman story "Season of Mists", Lucifer expels all demons and damned souls from Hell before locking Hell's gates and handing over the key to Hell to Dream of the Endless, the title character of the Sandman series. Eventually, control of Hell was handed over to two angels, Duma (the angel of silence) and Remiel ("set over those who rise"), while Lucifer simply retired to Earth, initially to Perth, Western Australia and later to Los Angeles, California.
By the end of the series, however, it is revealed that Hell was not a punishment, but a gift: being the furthest possible place from God, Lucifer could theoretically be free from predestination and God's omniscience. However, this turned out to be a lie, as God continued to study both Lucifer and Michael Demiurgos during all of eternity (which partly explains how Lucifer felt cheated by his father and simply left Hell into someone else's care). Lucifer never created the physical features of Hell - Hell created itself around him.
Lucifer was the main character in an eponymous series that ran for 75 issues and the Lucifer: Nirvana one-shot, from June 2000 to August 2006, the entire run of which was written by Mike Carey. (This series was preceded by 1999's Carey-penned The Sandman Presents: Lucifer miniseries.) Carey described the book as being "autobiographical", in so much as Lucifer is so much the opposite of the author and all humanity that he "defines [us] in negative": to Carey, the essence of the character was:
We play safe. Most of us do, most of the time... but Lucifer doesn't know the meaning of safe, and he never bothers to look down at the tramlines. He goes wherever the hell he likes, picks his fights where he finds them and generally wins... following [his] own will and [his] own instincts to the very end of the line, no matter what the obstacles are.
In the series, Lucifer runs a piano bar (an element introduced in the Sandman story "The Kindly Ones") called "Lux" in Los Angeles, with the assistance of his female consort, Mazikeen who is a Lilim, one of the race descended from Lilith. Lucifer is portrayed as a sophisticated and charming man, in accordance with the stereotypical gentleman-devil.
The theme of the Lucifer series revolves around the free-will problem. Carey's Lucifer is a figure representing will and individual willpower, who challenges the "tyranny of predestination". While in Heaven's eyes this is blasphemy, Lucifer points out that the rebellion (and indeed all sin) and damnation as consequence were pre-planned by his Creator, God. Lucifer rejects God's rule and moral philosophy as tyrannical and unjust. The violent, aggressive, totalitarian, vengeful, and dictatorial aspects of Heaven's rule are represented mostly by the Archangel Amenadiel, who has a particular hatred of Lucifer and leads attacks of various kinds against him. The attacks include verbal criticism, marshaling the host of Heaven, as well as challenging him to individual combat - almost all of it without the slightest care for the countless innocent, unwilling and unwitting victims he is more than willing to sacrifice for his own pride. For his part, Lucifer disdains Amenadiel, treating the latter's emotional outbursts with contempt, and repeatedly defeats Amenadiel's assaults with well-orchestrated, hidden plans. Ironically, however, it is often difficult to discern when Lucifer acts as a slave to predestination and when he effectively acts according to his own free will.
Elaborate codes of conduct and schemes of entrapment based on these codes are vital elements of the DC\Vertigo magical universe. Lucifer appears as a master of these arts. In an encounter during the first Sandman story arc (around issue #5) a weakened Dream outsmarts Lucifer. Lucifer first swears revenge on Dream, but later comes to accept Dream's critique of his role and project as Lord of Hell. This inspires Lucifer's abdication, a vital element of the Sandman saga, and the point of departure for the Lucifer series.
For Lucifer, his word is bond. As David Easterman, a character who sees himself as a victim of Lucifer, puts it:
When the Devil wants you to do something, he doesn't lie at all. He tells you the exact, literal truth. And he lets you find your own way to Hell.
Despite his theological title as the "Lord of Lies", refusal to lie is central to the moral position of the character - he sees himself as a neutral or amoral facilitator of forces within individuals,and Lucifer actively and effectively combats what he regards as corrupting moral codes. While he avoids lying, his morality seldom extends to compassion, with Lucifer regarding the sacrifice of millions of souls as unimportant collateral damage, with there being few, if any, beings he respects and even fewer for whom he cares.
As the series opened in 2000, Lucifer's "restful" retirement was disturbed by a series of associates from his past. After various catalytic events, he endeavored to create a universe in competition with (and presumably against the wishes of) his father, Yahweh. This puts him on a collision course with several powerful mystical entities that have a vested interest in the new creation and draws the angelic host into the fray - including his brother, the archangel Michael Demiurgos, and his niece, Elaine Belloc.
The series paralleled The Sandman in several ways, with epic fantasy stories being told in arcs separated by one-shot episodes depicting a smaller, more personal tale. Unlike The Sandman, the series has had a consistent art team in Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly, with most of the odd issues illustrated by Dean Ormston. The title's 50th issue was penciled by P. Craig Russell, an homage to The Sandman #50. Structurally, the series mostly follows its own path. Numerous gods appear, with greater focus on Judeo-Christian religion (as viewed by John Milton in Paradise Lost), Japanese, and Nordic mythology than in Sandman. As for the Endless themselves, Dream, Death, Delirium, and Destiny appear, but their appearances are small and rare. Destiny, perhaps, plays the biggest role in so far as he represents predestination, which Lucifer of course finds "offensive as a concept," stating that Lucifer knows Destiny is "really just a SIDE effect of [Lucifer's] FATHER, or rather, his deterministic APPROACH to the act of creation."
Cover artists included Duncan Fegredo, Christopher Moeller and Mike Kaluta. The letters are inconsistent, with the first half of the series carrying particularly established fonts of Gaudium, Michael and God, only to drop almost all of them, save Lucifer's, towards the end with numerous changes in the letterers.
The series ended in June 2006 with issue #75 and has thus far been collected in eleven books, with a standalone story (Lucifer: Nirvana) published as a smaller graphic novel. The series' parent title, The Sandman, also ran for 75 issues.
When Lucifer ventures outside Creation, he sees something resembling the comics pages themselves. In the end of the Lucifer story arc, God and the Devil are no longer part of the universe, and a former human (Elaine Belloc) is instead presiding over it. New concepts for Heaven and Hell are created, inspired and influenced by other human or superhuman characters in the story. The new situation is described on several occasions by the fallen cherubs Gaudium and Spera. In essence, it is "growing up", i.e., the need to find one's own truth and values without being directed by parents, elders, teachers, authority figures, etc.
The New 52
The New 52 reinterpretation of Lucifer is much more influenced by traditional Judeo-Christian theology. He is depicted as a malevolent, sadistic, and cunning fallen angel who is the ruler of Hell and seeks to possess human souls. He is held with great respect and fear by the denizens of Hell, who serve and obey him like a king.
Powers and abilities
Lucifer possesses nigh-omnipotent supernatural power; he can shape the matter of Creation into anything he can imagine, including matter, energy, and more abstract concepts, such as time. However, he does have certain limitations. Simply put, he cannot create something out of nothing. He needs existing matter (and where that is unavailable, the Demiurgic power of the Archangel Michael) to provide the foundation for him to shape. Only his brother Michael Demiurgos is his equal in power and only God is his superior. However, in certain dimensions, he is powerless and his mobility is limited without his angelic wings. He may choose to temporarily abandon his powers (including immortality), and it is strongly suggested that even he could not survive if his heart were to be eaten by another character. In the story "Lilith", it is implied that his father (God) could destroy him at His whim - which makes Lucifer sometimes wonder why He hasn't dealt with him already.
He is never without the formidable resources of his brilliant, nigh-omniscient intellect and his unbending will or inner strength, however. Although Lucifer's overt exercise of power is limited in the books, if he is provoked to violence, his preference seems to be to use fire as a weapon. His original role was as "God's lamplighter", in which he used his will to condense clouds of hydrogen into star-masses and set them alight. As terrifying as they are brief, battles with Lucifer usually begin (and end) with him drawing down the flames of some superheated star and incinerating to ash anything in the immediate area. However, the true reason why he favors light and fire are partially explained in the story "Lilith" (from "Lucifer: The Wolf Beneath the Tree").
Lucifer possesses the common Archangelic powers; vast super-strength that rivals that of Asmodel, super-speed, invulnerability, flight, acidic blood, a devastating sonic cry, telepathy, and the power to speak to and understand animals. As an Archangel, his powers are superior to other angels.
In the New 52 reboot, Lucifer is shown to possess power over the human soul itself. However, he has no power over animal souls. He can open and close magical portals to Earth from Hell and back again. He can use this power to either summon or banish demons, as he does with Etrigan. He is clairvoyant, possessing a heightened perception or knowledge of time, even to the extent of being able to know the future.
- The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe lists Lucifer as first having appeared in a dream in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #65 (1962). He appears when Jimmy Olsen attempts to memorize a devil's food cake recipe with his alleged photographic memory and dreams that he is in France 300 years in the past. Putting on the clothing of a bandit who has ditched them, Jimmy is arrested and sent to rot in Devil's Island Penal Colony. A bald man known as Lord L offers five years of freedom for people to escape in exchange for their souls. Convinced that the magic the man uses is technological in nature, assuming him to be an ancestor of Lex Luthor, he asks to be returned to from where he came, believing Lord L will be long dead by then and unable to claim him. Lord L shows up at his front door, still bald but now with a goatee, and insists that he is Lucifer and has given him over 300 years extra, but will dine with him before taking him, but disappears when Jimmy serves him cake. Superman wakes Jimmy soon after and reveals that the card he memorized was really for angel food cake, and this is why Lucifer disappeared.
- In Weird Mystery Tales #4 (Jan-Feb 1973), a story by Jack Oleck and Rubeny depicts Lucifer, looking much like his present incarnation, save for a few panels in which he appeared as a more traditional devil, held prisoner by an order of monks. It also presents a prisoner switch trick not unlike the one performed in The Sandman: Season of Mists, in addition to being hosted by Destiny, another character later used by Gaiman. In the story, Lucifer gave Philip Burton his form in order to trade places with him and fulfill his wish for immortality. Lucifer walked away in the body of the elderly Burton.
- A character called Lucifer, The Fallen Angel appears in Blue Devil #31 (the final issue). He has angelic wings and a halo, and his face includes dark facial hair. He does not have horns. Madame Xanadu recognizes that even with a magic book, he is not the real Lucifer. He is simply a washed-up actor who decides to be a costumed criminal for a living. He is dragged into Hell on a train at the end of the issue.
- The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe lists Lucifer's first genuine pre-Crisis appearance as DC Special Series #8 (1978's The Brave and the Bold Special Starring Batman, Deadman and Sgt. Rock). This character has hair and wings like Lucifer as he appears in Sandman #4, but he is red-skinned and has a face like a traditional devil, complete with goatee, though his horns may be part of a headband. His appearance in the comic is brief, but he is specifically referred to as "Lucifer," rather than by other epithets. He has an advisory board consisting of Guy Fawkes, Benedict Arnold, Adolf Hitler, Jack the Ripper, Nero, and Bluebeard. He has an operative, Edward Dirkes, set bombs, while using a bronze Batman statue transported by the Easy Company like a voodoo doll.
- Writer Garth Ennis introduced a character intended to be the Devil as an antagonist in his run on the Hellblazer comic: however, as the character appeared at the same time as Gaiman's reuse of the Lucifer character, Ennis had to introduce a new back story for his character to distinguish the two: the Hellblazer character was named the First of the Fallen, and was ruler of Hell prior to and after Lucifer's reign. How this fits in with the reigns of the angels and Christopher Rudd has not been clarified, although the First of the Fallen mentions Duma and Remiel ruling Hell during Ennis' run. In the Hellblazer film adaption, Constantine, however Lucifer, portrayed by Peter Stormare showed up as an antagonist.
- Satan has appeared as a distinct figure in numerous DC comics.
- In one of DC-Vertigo's "Fables" spinoffs, "Jack of Fables", the titular character made various (unwise) pacts with several devils. One of them is heavily inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost.
Lucifer, including the Sandman Presents miniseries and the Nirvana one-shot, has been collected together into eleven trade paperbacks:
|1||Devil in the Gateway||Vertigo||2001||ISBN 1840232994|
|2||Children and Monsters||Vertigo||2001||ISBN 1840233915|
|3||A Dalliance with the Damned||Vertigo||2002||ISBN 1840234709|
|4||The Divine Comedy||Vertigo||2003||ISBN 1840236930|
|6||Mansions of the Silence||Vertigo||2004||ISBN 1401202497|
|8||The Wolf Beneath the Tree||Vertigo||2005||ISBN 140120502X|
Note: The full title of all volumes listed here start with "Lucifer: ".
|#||Title||ISBN||Release date||Collected material|
|1||Lucifer: Book One||9781401240264||29 May, 2013||The Sandman Presents: Lucifer #1-3 and Lucifer #1-13 |
|2||Lucifer: Book Two||9781401242602||15 October, 2013||Lucifer #14-28 and Lucifer: Nirvana one-shot |
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2011)|
- Irvine, Alex (2008), "Lucifer", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 118–124, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015
- Superman #666
- Lucifer is number 68, 2010: IGN comics — Lucifer is number 68
- Sandman #28, July 1991: "Season of Mists" part 7
- Sandman #57, February 1994, p21: "The Kindly Ones" part 1
- Carey, Mike (July 2000), On The Ledge, DC Comics / Vertigo
- Lucifer Vol 1. Issue #11
- Lucifer #16
- The Unofficial Lucifer Morningstar Chronology
- "Lucifer Book One Solicitation". Vertigo. DC Comics. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
- "Lucifer Book Two Solicitation". Vertigo. DC Comics. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Lucifer|
- Lucifer mini-site (cached) at DC Comics.com
- Rauch, Stephen. Review: Lucifer, PopMatters, September 1, 2006