Lucifer, Satan, the Devil; call him what you like, but he’s appeared in a lot of literature since making his first appearances in the Bible. Some more recent works have seen a dissatisfied Lucifer leaving Hell behind – Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series has this as a sub-plot, which was spun-off into the Lucifer series, which then got made into a TV show. Gaiman himself borrowed the concept from Milton, whose Paradise Lost expanded on the biblical version of the story of Adam and Eve.
Mike Ragsdale’s take on Lucifer is more modern and comedic, but he’s still fed up with his lot. The story starts with Lucifer turning up to the murder of a hitman, ready to escort the hired gun’s soul down into Hell. However, while tormenting the hitman about his future in the underworld, he witnesses the grief of the assassin’s innocent wife and child. The wife, Angela, blames the Devil for the hitman’s death, which sends Lucifer into an indignant rage, right up until the point where the hitman’s son prays for Lucifer’s forgiveness.
This simple act of childlike innocence sends Lucifer on a journey to free himself from the shackles of the underworld, seeking a release from God now that he’s spent several billions of years serving as punisher-in-chief. What follows is a series of genuinely funny situational comedic moments, as Lucifer walks the Earth, stalking widow and son, and interacting with a number of God’s servants (including a catholic priest, with whom he takes confession).
All this is further enhanced by Pablo Arias’s art. With a style that sits somewhere between realism and caricature, there’s a cartoonish vibe that resonates with the story’s humour, while managing to maintain a dark edge. Lucifer’s may not want to live in Hell any more but he’s done a good job of ensuring it’s a horrific place to spend the rest of eternity, which Arias illustrates with graphic relish.
Overall it’s a tricky book to rate. The story is different and amusing but treads over familiar ground. I enjoyed it, laughed at Lucifer’s witty dialogue and appreciated the craft of the art. However, it doesn’t add enough that’s new and original to merit a whole-hearted recommendation, unless you just can’t get enough of this particular devil-as-victim sub-genre.