Friday, 1 October 2010

Turning Children Into Monsters

The initial trio of stories is now complete. We know who Lucifer is, what he wants, and exactly how really, really killed you'll be if you get in his way. It's time to raise the stakes.

No surprise what the theme is this time around: children and monsters, and how one becomes the other. We're given the answer very early on, actually, in the prologue to the story proper. Being trapped in the womb for 4 000 years, murdered each morning by miscarriage; that's the kind of thing you'd expect to fuck a kid up. Trapped in time and inside its mother, the foetus becomes something monstrous, a mindless killer, violent frustration personified.

Right from the start, then, we understand one thing very clearly: being trapped is bad.

This is important, because pretty much everyone in Children And Monsters' four issues are exactly that. The idea toyed with in A Six-Card Spread - that defining your life by your opposition to God is no less liberating than living entirely according to God's will - is back full force. This time, though, the point is generalised. We're no longer just talking about the way we define ourselves with regard to our God, but how we define ourselves with regard to our fathers.

For four of the characters in this story, of course, the two things are the same. Two, Michael and Amenadiel, are still loyal members of the Host. Two, Lucifer and Sandalphon, are renegades. All of them, though, are caught in the same trap. Living according to the boundaries their father has set. Obsessing over the rules their God has laid down for the cosmos.

Obviously, this preoccupation takes different forms for each. Amenadiel is sanguine and combative, a man desperately trying to please an absent father by travelling further and further along the path he is convinced his maker wants him to follow. Digging himself deeper and deeper under a mound of corpses. He negotiates with the Cherubim to alleviate the body count, but there is little doubt that he did so only to increase the chances of gaining the full support of the Host, and none whatsoever that he would have proceeded without them if necessary; killed anyone he had to in order to get to Lucifer. He spends untold numbers of angels in the attack, torn apart by Musubi's blades or swallowed whole by the ravenous spirit of Erishad's child, and he does it without blinking. He is doing his Father's work.

Sandalphon is the mirror image of Amenadiel; so unswerving, blindly dedicated to creating his army with which to raze Heaven the world has become reduced to a series of opportunities, obstacles, and irrelevances. He despises his father so much he is willing to sacrifice his children whenever it becomes convenient; indeed his master plan absolutely requires it. For him, this has never been about anything other than power. He moves his pawns, and mocks Michael for hesitating to kill his own brother. Where Lucifer wished only to be untouched by the power of others, Sandalphon wants that power for himself, but it comes to the same thing in the end. The sons must be rid of their father.

Caught in their traps, the children become monsters.

All appearances to the contrary, Michael actually begins the story free. He is chained in a pit by Sandalphon, yes, but that very fact allows him to exist outside his duty to God. Alone amongst the four angels, he is given the choice to be free, ironically enough by Lucifer, but chooses to return to service in the Silver City. He willingly walks back into the trap.

But can it be a trap if it is entered willingly? Is that the secret? Is that why Michael hesitated, why he did not become a monster? Perhaps. Nevertheless, he would undoubtedly have been more free in the second Creation. But if Micheal would been free had he stayed with Lucifer in his new cosmos, then how can Lucifer still be trapped?

It's because Lucifer has made a mistake. It will take him a long time to realise it, but he has erred. He has become a God in his own cosmos, because he believes that alone amongst the inhabitants of Creation, only God is free. Therefore, Lucifer needs his own reality to rule over, so that no-one can rule over him.

This, though, is faulty logic. The Morningstar knows that in a cosmos controlled by God, no-one else can be free. What he has missed is that whilst being God is a necessary condition for being free, there is no reason to believe it is also sufficient. Preventing everyone else from liberty does not guarantee that liberty for oneself. This is particularly true for Lucifer, who has progressed from defining himself in total opposition to God to instead simply setting up a rival business, offering the same product in different packaging. Some call Lucifer a monster already - he might not even trouble to argue the point. But things could get worse. Things can always get worse.

Having said all that, though, what alternatives are there? Even now, sixty issues and five years before Lucifer comes to the end of his journey, the solution seems to lie within Elaine. Almost every other character in this drama, from Lucifer to Cal, seems destined for ruination, either from blindly following or instinctively resisting the influences of their father. Elaine, though, has five father figures to juggle. There's the man she calls father, who took her in as a child, the one she spent her whole life believing had provided exactly half of the pieces necessary to build a jigsaw with her face upon it. There is the man who believes himself her true father, whose seed created the tiny cluster of cells which was pulled and twisted and kneaded and sculpted until it took her shape. Then we have Sandalphon and Michael, angels fallen or broken, the will and the fact behind her existence. That's a hell of a lot to contend with, even before we consider the fact that Elaine's grandmothers are disembodied bile-green immortal witches, and her grandfather gave birth to reality itself.

That's four. The fifth, perhaps surprisingly, is Lucifer himself. Certainly she cares more for him than the haggard, sleep-plagued man who travels across he ocean to meet her. And whilst Samael had no role in creating her, he has saved her life twice, and a life saved is a life given, after all. Lucifer might not return he affection - he has Mazikeen to kiss, and, like, loads of centaurs to make - but that doesn't seem to matter.

Perhaps that's what makes Elaine different - she doesn't seem particularly concerned about what she gets in return. Her life is about who she loves, not about what she believes she does or does not deserve from them, or how they can or must be forced to give them what they want or need. Perhaps having five father figures makes it impossible define yourselves within their intersection of their Venn diagram, any more than she could lie outside all five circles at once. Alternatively, it might be something within human nature that the angels, loyalist or rebel, cannot grasp. Or, in the end, it may simply be that Elaine is special, that though she keeps company with ghosts and witches and angels, it is she who is remarkable.

In other words, perhaps Elaine is an answer to a question Lucifer has yet to think to ask. In either case, Samael has created two things by the end of this story. His interest is fixed firmly upon his new universe, but somewhere in London, something else is growing inside a sleeping schoolgirl.

The story of Lucifer is now the story of Lucifer and Elaine.


Jamie said...

Nice work, dude. I've finished it now, by the way, excellent ending.

SpaceSquid said...

Thanks, man! Four articles down, eighteen to go!