Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled by: Peter Gross & Ryan Kelly
Inked by: Peter Gross & Ryan Kelly
Colored by: Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Mariah Huehner
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Is it possible for something to be so consistently excellent that it destroys all sense of anticipation upon its' consumption? Can you be so certain that something will be everything you hoped for and more that the actual thing arrival is an anti-climax? Can even the highest heights seem like the plainest plains? If so, then Lucifer is soaring steadily at those heights.
The Universe is in dire peril. God himself has quit his job, following the example of His son, Lucifer - who quit his position as Ruler of Hell in order to wander around, enjoy himself for the first time in eons and then set about building his own universe in the void of creation. As God's presence is written across every molecule of the original universe, All That Is (save Lucifer's universe) is in danger of collapsing into nothingness. Lucifer has already begun making arrangements to bring all the regular mortals into his universe, intent on creating a paradise free of the religion, gods and immortals (himself excluded) whom just tend to make a greater mess of things.
That brings us to this issue, where the ArchAngel Michael attempts to use his own powers to replace God and hold the universe together a while longer. This is, as it turns out, a temporary measure at best. Fenris, the wolf of Norse mythology whose arrival will herald the end of the world, is even now on his way to the base of the Yggdrasil; the world tree that holds together all realities. This would mean the destruction of even Lucifer's realm, forcing the former Prince of Hell to align with his brother Michael one more time to stop Fenris and his associates from destroying the tree.
The art is equally magnificent. Gross and Kelly manage the rather neat trick of using a simple style to reveal complex characters. Every panel of their work looks somewhat like an engraved woodcut, as if the story before us were from another time. Vozzo's colors are perfectly chosen, with the Silver City of the Angels looking as pale and washed out as the angels that inhabit it. Michael Klauta's cover this time around is divine, if a bit posed for my taste. And Fletcher's letters are legible even when using the fanciest of fonts.
As much as I love the book, I am aesthetically torn by the paradoxes that it inspires. I have no idea what wonders await me as I open each issue and yet I can be certain that it will be enjoyable, come what may. I can be sure of a great story that will engage my interest with beautiful illustrations to match. And yet it saddens me a great deal at the same time that I am floored by the wonder of it all. Because the book is so consistently excellent that it is hard to believe that the level of quality can endure for much longer, nor that it can improve. This is the problem with flying, you see. At some point, we have to go down or so logic dictates.
Until then, I plan to sit back, enjoy the ride and hope that logic never catches up with me.