Reviewer: â€œStarmanâ€ Matt Morrison
Story Title: Neutral Ground
Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled by: Ted Naifeh
Inked by: Ted Naifeh
Cover by: Tara McPherson
Colored by: Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
If Lucifer has a flaw as a monthly book, it is that the sheer volume of information covered throughout the series is not easily conveyed from issue to issue. To miss a major story arc is to risk loosing track of all that follows. Thankfully, Carey has stories such as this one that take place between the major story arcs, giving us a short story centering upon a new character that does not directly relate to the epic events of each arc.
See John. John is a law-school drop out, trapped in a lousy job. His only outlet for escape is a punk rock band he sings in and his semi-squeeze, Puce, the guitar player. Both are on the skids though, after one gig that goes bad due to John’s poor booking skills (they wind up playing a Goth bar instead of a punk bar, where the fans prefer The Smiths to The Ramones) and things are looking pretty bad for Johnny boy. In fact, he is so far beneath notice as a person that certain members of the forces of darkness are using John’s soul as a meeting place; a neutral ground to plot how they should react to the recent news that The Creator (aka God Almighty) has followed Lucifer’s example and quit his job.
This is the only reference we get to the past story arc, and only in a book such as this could God quitting his job be reduced to a brief mention, when most titles would make use of a [See Lucifer #43] footnote or a full fledged flash-back panel. This far-sighted tone and assumption that the reader is already familiar with what has come before is the book’s greatest weakness and yet its most absorbing strength.
Sadly, while the book is as well written as ever, the art does leave a little bit to be desired. The cover, by guest cover artist Tara McPherson, seems to be depicting three pre-teens in gothic ware instead of the twenty-something characters introduced in this story. Naifeh’s work is good for the most part, depicting amazingly evil demons, drunken club patrons and even the occasional naked woman without making it seem exploitive or posed.
Our focus character of John seems oddly angular and out of place amongst the more rounded characters in the story â€“ I assume this is an intentional effect and it works quite well in showing how out of place John is due to the â€œpartyâ€ he his hosting. Still, the brief appearance of Lucifer leaves a lot to be desired, as the ex-Angel looks a lot more like Annie Lennox than his usual sleek self.