Fox rolls out a strange new series tonight, one where the Devil has quit his job in Hell and helps an L.A. cop solve mysteries. Despite sounding like the flipped version of a 30 Rock joke, it’s based on a real comic book, and there are some things about the former ruler of Hell you should know before you tune in.
Yes, He Quit Running Hell
The series is based on Neil Gaiman’s depiction of Lucifer in The Sandman, which in turn is based on the guy who got all the good lines in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Lucifer doesn’t actively make human beings evil, nor does he decide their punishments. Instead, he’s more of a mystical bureaucrat, mostly occupied with keeping Hell’s legions in line. In the Sandman story arc “Season of Mists,” after 10 million years, Lucifer’s gotten bored with Hell and thinks being consigned to the Pit for disagreeing with God is unfair, so he locks the place up and sticks The Sandman with the deed while flittering off to L.A. to run a piano bar. Lucifer’s adventures were then continued in the Mike Carey-penned Vertigo series Lucifer, which serves as the primary inspiration for the Fox series.
He Never Lies
One of the more interesting twists to Lucifer in the comics is that he always tells the exact, literal truth. In fact, in the TV series, his main power is the ability to get people to confess their deepest desires and secrets. The trick, of course, is that Lucifer is a chess master. He knows exactly how everyone from the man on the street to the angel in the highest hosts will react to hearing the truth, and uses that to his advantage. In other words, Lucifer is the kind of devil that will give you all the rope you want, knowing that sooner or later you’ll hang yourself with it. So he’s not actively evil, but he’s still kind of a dick.
He’s Got Powerful, And Dangerous, Enemies
Needless to say, Lucifer wasn’t popular in Heaven before he quit his job, and quitting just made him more enemies. Chief among them is Amenadiel (played in the series by D.B. Woodside) who on the show wants him back on the throne of Hell. Aside from Mazikeen (Leslie-Ann Brandt), a demon who faithfully quit and followed him to his retirement, Lucifer wants nothing to do with his old job, an answer Amenadiel didn’t take well in the comics and is unlikely to enjoy on the show.
Expect A More Subtle Devil
The comics were never about over-the-top theatrics, even when Lucifer had to deal with massive plots against him. Expect the show similarly to be on the quieter end in terms of special effects. Lucifer’s powers, in this series, involve causing physical pain and getting people to confess. This will could make it more like Fox’s Gotham than the CW’s host of superhero shows… but who doesn’t enjoy seeing the devil get his due? We’ll see how it plays out tonight at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.