Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Lucifer: The Wolf Beneath the Tree

(2005) Mike Carey, Titan Books, 9.99, trdpbk, 160pp, ISBN 1-845-76164-2

This is volume eight of the trade paperbacks of the on-going comic series and collects issues 45 (excluded from volume 7, Exodus), 50 ("Lilith", with art from P Craig Russell), and 51-54 the title tale. The book opens with "Lilith" and, aside from looking very pretty, fills in a few blanks and bits of detail, none of which are really important, but then that's not the point with any title's fiftieth issue, is it? Issue 45 is then inserted, "Neutral Ground" with art by Ted Naifeh (looking a bit Ted McKeever-ish, if you know what I mean), which brings readers back up to speed with what's going on (Yahweh has left Creation in the hands of Michael and Lucifer, though Lucifer has a Creation of his own to worry about; chaos threatens... See reviews of earlier volumes). Some demons, leaders of the demonic diaspora from Hell, choose to meet on 'neutral ground' to discuss the current situation, having been given no lead by Lucifer. The neutral ground in question is the soul of John Baxter Sewell, a clerk in a law firm by day, punk rocker by night. "Hosting" the conference is the demon Unagor who, not a participant in and bored by the conclave, seeks to strike a deal with Sewell. Everything is going swimmingly, but then Lucifer turns up... "The Wolf Beneath the Tree" continues the main plot line. With the Divine Word missing, His Creation is collapsing. Lucifer will provide asylum in his Universe, but only to mortals, everyone else will have to take their chances. Michael chooses to go and see Destiny of the Endless (from Sandman) and finds his daughter, Elaine Belloc (now an angel in Lucifer's Creation), and Lucifer have been invited. The conversation is fascinating... Meanwhile the Fenris Wolf, sensing the end of Creation, attacks the roots of the world-tree Yggdrasil, but this draws the attention of Lucifer who fears that the conflagration Fenris wishes to bring about may extend to his own Universe. But Lucifer has been anticipated... To say that this volume ends on a cliff-hanger is the understatement of the year. There are some lovely covers in here by Christopher Moeller and Mike Kaluta, as well as sterling work by regular artists Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly, and Carey's writing and wonderful imagination are both excellent (and it's well-worth reading his run in Hellblazer too!). Lucifer is one of the best titles around right now and I unhesitatingly recommend it to everyone.

Tony Chester

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