We gain a bit more insight into Lucifer’s character in the first issue of the main series alone, where she resolves to kill Dietrich because he would kill Val before he would let her pay off her debt. She hates having to defile a corpse in order to access a demonic realm using a knife called an eye-tooth, but advises the poor coroner who witnesses her come out to not bother reporting it because she’d be long gone and no one would believe him. It’s made evident in the second issue that’s she’s lived a hard enough life on the street that she knows how to fight dirty. So from the beginning we know that she can be spiteful to those that cross her, cares about those who love her, and tries to keep civilians out of these matters. When she becomes the Thief, the next Keeper of Secrets after the Harlot, she cites who she was before was dead, but traces of it still leaked in until she eventually gave the mantle to Madam Cymbaline.
Lucifer doesn’t see herself as feminine, not that she can’t play it up, and loathes the idea of wearing dresses. She considers herself a magic-user, but not a witch. The people she works with in both series are her lifeline and strongest ties to morality, and without them she is capable of being just as dangerous as the people she faces. The moment Val is killed and Lucifer loses one of the few remaining connections she has, she immediately stops playing nice and does things that are bad enough that it risks the very world itself and other gods are willing to punish her for it. Despite that, it’s made clear that she doesn’t want to do bad things and the path to redemption isn’t beyond her.
The Harlot is the Keeper of Secrets, an immortal being that is constantly being filled with the knowledge of the world and thus driven either mad or in immense pain by it. Her true identity is Fastrada, a woman born with magical powers hundreds of years ago. With the Witch Hunts going on, her sisters came up with the idea of gaining true power by sacrificing their children, all of whom did except for her. To protect her child, she became the Harlot from the previous Keeper of Secrets and lost her child at the same time. What happens to her child becomes the secret that is kept from her as the Harlot, only to be learned once a new Keeper of Secrets is found.
At some point in the past she marked Lucifer as the next Keeper of Secrets, though the Witchdom book cites Lucifer stole something from her and the Harlot used her as a pawn in turn, marking her after the Keeper of Secrets was the last major power left in the Aether. I’d take it with a grain of salt, but the point I’m making is that whatever reason she marked her and whatever grievances that Lucifer has with her, the Harlot bears with it because in a spiritual sense she does see her as the daughter that she lost as a mortal upon becoming the Harlot.
She doesn’t like being denounced a witch because whereas the rest of her sisters were willing to kill their children to gain power, she was willing to throw her mortal life away in an attempt to protect hers. She comes to realize, after learning that her child died alone and miserable at an early age from illness in an orphanage, Lucifer was the child she was supposed to protect. This is made clear as her final actions in the series serve to protect Lucifer from all those who were willing to harm her at the cost of herself, sucking them into the realm that the Yellow Crown leads to.
Val is an art curator who just so happens to collect dangerous magical artifacts to keep them out of the wrong hands. From beginning to the end, she was a motherly figure to both Raina and Lucifer. She was the first person to refer to Lucifer’s name as being lovely for a girl, and happens to be very protective of the two under her care.
She isn’t afraid to get rough to protect them or herself, proven when she killed Dietrich’s men, gutted Yves with a spear, and confronted the Harlot. The only time she truly gets furious with Lucifer was when she killed herself to get into the Shade. Likewise, she was willing to die in order to keep Lucifer safe and left behind a parting gift—a message telling her that she would await her in Heaven.
Madam Cymbaline is a minor character in the first series, but becomes the main antagonist in the second. She is a powerful figure in the magical community, and both villains before her, Dietrich and Yves, attempt to remove her from power only to fail due to Lucifer’s assistance. Despite that, she still yearns for more power to bring the Graeae back into a position of power they’ve been cast out of by the Harlot.
For the most part, Madam Cymbaline holds no strong feelings against Lucifer initially. She just so happens to be in her way, and killing Lucifer is the most efficient means of being rid of her. Likewise, Lucifer recognizes that she’s an important figure in the community and getting rid of her would do more harm than good. By the end, both absolutely loathe one another because they both crossed lines that the other could no longer tolerate—killing Val for Lucifer, and costing her the chance to become the next Keeper of Secrets for Madam Cymbaline.
Madam Cymbaline is the opposite of the Harlot, both powerful figures in the world of magic whose ties to their sisters bind them to their fate. But while the Harlot managed to resist her sisters, Madam Cymbaline goes along with their plans in order to bring them back to glory. The net result is that she briefly becomes a god and attains her goal, only to lose everything in the end.
Raina is new to all of this and, through circumstances somewhat beyond her control, becomes capable of using Necromancy. Val wanted her to take a break so she didn’t witness what Lucifer and Val were doing, namely going into a painting to pull a security guard named Bob out of it after he had a heart attack and getting him medical treatment. In the process they accidentally freed Yves, who stole Raina’s soul. Lucifer goes into the Shade and uses a mask to retrieve it or something similar and the end result is that Raina owes the Keeper of Secrets a debt. Afterwards, she accompanies Lucifer until she becomes the Thief and then proceeds to work to free her from the role. At the end of the series, she opens an art gallery like Val did with Lucifer at her side.
The overarching plot of both Hexed series serves to show Lucifer’s struggles in the face of the life she’s lived and her efforts to find redemption. She’s done bad things and has had to struggle to survive, but ultimately chooses what’s best for the world over what’s best for herself… right up until it gets someone she loved killed. After that, she becomes lost in her rage and grief, willing to potentially damn the world in an effort to get revenge. Only then we see that the friendships she forged enabled her to escape from the role she took up and give her a chance at true redemption.
She’s someone who’s teetering on the edge despite her best efforts and does eventually jump over the line, but because of the friendship she forged with Raina and Bob, and the matronly figures of the Harlot and Val, she’s given the chance to be free of it all.
The series was magnificent through and through, and I don’t just say that because I like Urban Fantasy of this nature. If you enjoy a story of magic in the modern world, aren’t afraid of blood or death, and the struggles of an experienced protagonist working to go against forces greater than her, I’d suggest giving it a read.
5 out of 5.
The second series, introduced in 2014 brings us back to the story of Lucifer working for Val again to get a rare painting frame. However, this brings her into conflict with mercenaries and a security guard named Bob ends up having a heart attack from witnessing it. Lucifer ends up sealing him inside of the painting and bringing him to Val, who is working with an intern named Raina. The painting turns out to contain a Madam Cymbaline’s brother who wants revenge and steals Raina’s soul, leading to Lucifer to go to the Harlot for a way to retrieve it.
She has to kill herself to get into the Shade and Yves ends up going after Val for an item and gets gutted by her when she has to protect the newly awakened Raina, after learning Lucifer killed herself. Raina makes a deal with the Harlot to bring her back to life, and Yves and Madam Cymbaline end up crashing Val’s gallery and burning it down. Yves is killed and most of Val’s artifacts are confiscated as a result.
Now without her gallery and most of her artifacts confiscated, Val must work out of a less reputable location and get them all back with Lucifer’s help. She also hired Bob to work for her, so there’s that too. However, Lucifer and Val get into an argument over an artifact that Madam Cymbaline covets known as the Yellow Crown, due to it being able to mind control others. Madam Cymbaline is willing to remove her hex for it and makes it clear that she’ll kill Val if Lucifer doesn’t give it to her, but Val doesn’t care for her own life compared to keeping it out of the former’s hands.
In the end, Lucifer tosses it into a realm where the sands of the desert rob you of your memories and Madam Cymbaline kills Val and her cat. Enraged, Lucifer proceeds to kill a number of Madam Cymbaline’s servants and then summons a devil that other gods died to keep out of the mortal realm, knowing full well that the gods would try to punish her for it. So she goes to the Harlot and takes on the role of the Keeper of Secrets.
After this, Raina works with Bob to try and free Lucifer, who is now the Thief, from her role with the help of the former Harlot—whose real name is Fastrada. She was a witch during the 1600s that fell in love with a man only for him to learn that she was a witch after they had a child. This was orchestrated by her sisters, who wanted to complete a ritual that involved sacrificing her baby. In the end, she banished them to the Shade but had to become the Harlot in order to do so, leaving the secret of what happened to her child forever out of her reach.
Lucifer, now the Thief, has this secret but is only willing to give it to her for the Yellow Crown as Madam Cymbaline comes for her. Because Madam Cymbaline managed to get rid of the devil Lucifer summoned, the gods elevated her into being one in order to get revenge on Lucifer. So, while the two of them do battle, Raina and Fastrada retrieve the Yellow Crown at the expense of Bob being trapped inside of the realm where he forgets who he is.
They return with it just as Lucifer is on the verge of defeat and is forced to give up her role as the Keeper of Secrets to buy time long enough for Fastrada to use the Yellow Crown and pull herself, Madam Cymbaline, and her sisters into a realm where they can never harm anyone else. Lucifer tells her the secret she wants, that her daughter had been adopted and lived a long and healthy life, but she knows it’s a lie. Her daughter caught an illness and died in an orphanage, but she recognizes that Lucifer was the child she was meant to look after and protect in her place.
In the end, Lucifer and Raina reopen Val’s art gallery and retrieve Bob, who goes on to his honeymoon. They find out that Val had a painting commissioned for Lucifer, where she finds a message telling her that she’d be waiting for Lucifer in Heaven along with feather from when she had an angel’s wings in the first series.
That’s about it for Part 2. Next week, we’ll look into a summary of the characters and the overarching plot and development the characters go through.
Over the next few weeks, I want to talk about a series that recently completed that really interested me. It was called Hexed and, much like my Runaways review, I’ll be going into details about the story and the characters. One thing to note is that there is a prequel book called Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown that seems to be a prequel to the comic series. Since this isn’t a book review, but a comic review, I won’t go into it.
We’ll start with what Hexed is and cover the first series:
Hexed is the story of a young girl named Lucifer who, sometime in the past, came into contact with a mysterious and powerful being known as the Harlot. The Harlot is the ultimate information broker, and she yearns for a successor to her title to the Keeper of Secrets. For some reason she chose Lucifer for this role and placed hex upon her soul because of it, which will allow her to claim her soul upon death and make her into the next Keeper of Secrets.
Both the 2008 series and the 2014 series tell the story of Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves, or Lucifer for short, but covers different aspects of her life. The 2008 series gives us a glance into the life she’s lived and mistakes she’s made as a powerful figure intends to use her to eliminate his competition, which would throw the magical society into a war that would bleed over into the regular world. The 2014 series gives us an introspective look into those she cares about and how they feel the same for her, showing how they’ve become her new family and the extent she would go to protect them.
In a way, the series reminds of the Dresden Files, despite having different protagonists. Harry Dresden is a detective by trade, while Lucifer is a thief and proud of that. Both work on supernatural cases and take bad things from bad people to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands. Maybe these similarities are why I like it so much?
2008 / 4-Issue Series
The first series, introduced in 2008 had Lucifer working with an art gallery manager named Val in securing magical artifacts that are too dangerous to be out in public. The first few pages introduce us to Lucifer sneaking into the rear entrance of a club, picking a lock, and then opening a safe that’s guarded by a witch-hound that she subsequently seals inside of a pink stuffed doll. This item that she takes is later revealed to be an angel’s wings (this will come up later on) and Val’s people will see to it that it gets back to its proper owner.
Back at home, she comes face-to-face with a former client named Dietrich who she left with a debt of about three-hundred grand because she refused to steal from Nuns that he lied about. Dietrich seems to understand that she doesn’t care for herself, but knows that she doesn’t want people to be hurt because of her, even if it’s happened before. So he sends her on a mission to retrieve a magical item that, when combined with the true name of someone else, can kill them without fail.
She’s forced to retrieve it, but goes to Val to warn her that she’s in danger. Val is willing to die rather than let the magical too be used because it’s caused thousands of deaths, but Lucifer won’t let her and warns her to be careful before Dietrich shows up at her home and she takes him into the Aether where the Harlot dwells in search of the true name of a person known as Madam Cymbaline. When Lucifer refuses, he has the tool attempt to kill Val and threatens to do the same to one person out of the phone book until he does get it back.
Lucifer ends up leading a car chase before being arrested and then summoning a demon who lets her escape through a toilet (yes, really). She finds that Val is alive, having transferred her name to one of Dietrich’s men and slit the others throat, but then Dietrich shows up and shoots Val with the intention of shooting her thirty times unless Lucifer gets him what he wants. To bring things to a close without going into overt details, he shoots Lucifer, Lucifer kills him with the witch-hound, and divine intervention in the form of the angel whose wings she returned ends up saving her life with a reminder that heaven can be found by anyone willing to strive for it.
Next week, we’ll go into the 2014 / 12 – Issue series.