Lucifer #3 Abounds In Pain, Bloodshed & Literary Allusions

by Olly MacNamee

While Lucifer #3 continues to preoccupy us with the ongoing imprisonment and deterioration of our would-be hero and the book’s namesake, this is an issue that focuses our attention on another one of this realm’s inhabitants, a certain William Blake and a tale of obsession, heated visions and pain. This is a book about the Devil, after all. There was always going to be pain, and bloodshed, and, being a Sandman Universe book, literary allusions.

And, while writer Dan Watters continues to impress with his writing style and overall story, artists Max and Sebastian Fiumara do a lot of the heavy lifting too, as they superbly capture and even adopt the kinetic, distorted fantasies of William Blake’s own engravings, no better than when Blake witnessed the true form of Lucifer in a meaty flashback episode. A scene in which Old Nick tries to dissuade Blake from creating a new work; The Annulment of Heaven and Hell. A fictitious sequel to Blake’s own epic poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, but one that will lay out the prophecies and future history of Lucifer and his minions. Something The Dark Prince does not want to come to pass. When Lucifer tries to hide his true nature upon first approaching one of the forefathers of the Romantic Movement, Blake’s supernatural senses witness a Lucifer straight out of his own artwork. Or rather, a vision of Lucifer that would later inhabit said artwork such as his engraving, The Number of the Beast is 666

The Number of the Beast is 666

Blake is presents in this issue as a man with a gift, or a curse, depending on your perspective. He is plagued by prophecies and we are to believe these prophecies forged and inhabited his work. It was Blake, in the aforementioned poem, that famously desired that “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” Here in this book, Blake has achieved this, even though these same unsettling thoughts and waking visions have come to dominate his life.  He is not a happy man in life, but seems far more content in this version of the after-life, alongside Lucifer.

His meeting with Lucifer leads to further mysteries being uncovered – literally – but not without throwing up even further questions and cliffhangers. 

Gaiman had Shakespeare to which he would sometimes turn to as a reoccurring character, and it would seem Watters has Blake, a more appropriate muse given his beliefs in the power of imagination and the minds’ eye that became the foundation upon which the Romantic writers built their beliefs. Much of which is there for all to see in Gaiman’s seminal run on The Sandman.

But the Romantics were also the early proponents of Gothicism too, and there are not too many books out there that are better able to capture the paradoxical sense of awe and dread that this book does so well. Watters has not only captured the beating heart of the original Sandman series, but he is also able to evolve it further through the very same philosophical eye of Gaiman and the The Gothic writers of yesteryear, who have been so profound an influence on Vertigo’s Lucifer. Yes, there’s more to this book than juts these scenes, but these are the scenes that stand out and resonated with me. 

A sublime and gothic book that’s both entertaining and informative, in a way, and one that you really should be reading.

Lucifer #3 is available now from Vertigo/DC Comics.

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