When Caliban, son of Lucifer, comes across 18th century Lord Fowler, a depraved English nobleman obsessed with the hunt, he perhaps finds a way to return home to hell and confront Lucifer himself! But does he? Find out in our stunning Major Spoilers review!
Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Kelley Jones
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Steve Wands
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 19th, 2019
Previously in Lucifer: while Lucifer grows bored of Hell, his illegitimate progeny seeks away to return to Hell and confront his dark father. Down through history, Caliban has searched a way to return to Hell, whether by opening his veins during a terrible winter, or at the end of the noose, or from the barrel of a gun – all to no avail. But now, in the shadowy demesne of a proud, arrogant Lord Fowler, has Caliban found a way back home?
Lucifer #9 reminds me of when as a boy, visiting relatives in another state, I went for a walk down to the local corner store, and bought a black and white horror anthology comic. I can’t remember the name, or who published it. I can tell you one of the stories has stayed with me since I read it, almost forty years ago. A story told in parallel, of a man obsessed with surrealist art, who was sent to a mental asylum. Two separate, but linked perspectives, are depicted down each page – one side of the page tells the story from the viewpoint of those treating him, and the other tells of the patient’s, surrealist, warped interpretation of what is going on around him, as everything and everyone warps and blurs and blends into one.
I say Lucifer #9 reminds me of that long lost story, because there are two stories being told in this issue, two stories that are inextricably linked, two stories that are as deliciously creepy as the story I described above. Lord Fowler, a depraved English nobleman obsessed with the hunt, has captured a demon escaped from Hell. The creature is capable of uttering only one word, ‘Lucifer.’ Caliban, who wishes to return home, believes the creature will show him how. The interaction between these two men, and the demon, via a hellish repast, forms Lucifer #9.
It’s devilishly pleasing to see Kelley Jones’ art again. His work on Batman way back when always filled me with joy – his artwork has a sort of twisted naturalism that lends itself to nightmares. And boy, is Lucifer #9 filled with nightmare fuel!
Dan Watters writing is perfectly paced, allowing the two sides of the story time to breathe as we see the demon’s efforts to escape from Hell counterpointed with Caliban’s telling of how he believes it occurred. Not everything lines up, but it is in those gaps where some of the more disturbing imagery and storytelling occur.
The scenes in Fowler’s home are some of the most memorable moments Lucifer #9, with Watters take a perverse delight in Fowler’s scheming to hunt demonkind, while Caliban’s slyness and melancholy storytelling elevating him above being a mere monster. Caliban has something of his father’s devious nature, convincing Fowler with flattery that to eat the demon, is to know the demon better for the hunt. The scenes where Fowler somehow manages to keep his gorge down while he stuffs his mouth full of demon bits will make even the most hardened reader gag.
THE ROAD TO HELL…
There’s a lot of the old EC Comics in Lucifer #9, which features a heavy strand of moralism as Fowler, who it is intimated hunted, killed and ate his missing wife, moves from control to abject collapse in the space of the issue. There’s little satisfaction for the reader to be had in watching his dissolution, so horrifying is it, but Watters and Kelley, working in tandem, make those scenes infinitely memorable. If there’s any takeaway from reading the issue, it is that no one in the world Watters has created is wholly without sin, and that the higher you reach (as Lucifer did) the greater the fall. Caliban is on a mission that can only end in catastrophe, but such is his prideful nature, that his headlong rush cannot be stopped. There’s something noble in the character in that regard, doing something they instinctively know will hurt them, but being unable to stop themselves.
BOTTOM LINE: Lucifer #9 is a deeply satisfying read that can be enjoyed on two levels – the damnation of a monstrous person by a creature infinitely more evil than he is. Looking at it from another point of view, it shows that man’s inherent faults and weaknesses can never be overcome, that despite our best efforts, we only make them wider and wider until the inevitable collapse comes. Deliciously spooky, Lucifer #9 will leave you hungry (vomit) for more!
A creepy tale of the damnation of an arrogant man at his own hand, Lucifer #9 is darkly blessed by strong writing and artwork from one of comic’s legends. If you read one horror comic in 2019, then Lucifer should be at the top of your list.