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Why Lucifer & Satan Are Different People In Sandman Lore

In the lore of Sandman, Lucifer begins as one of the rulers of Hell, developing into an antagonist to Dream and later even receiving his own series, which followed his attempts to leave God’s creation. However, before Lucifer even existed, DC already had its version of the Devil – the First of the Fallen. The First of the Fallen has a long history at DC, but most prominently as a major villain of early Hellblazer comics, which existed in the same world as and sometimes crossed-over with Sandman.

When John Constantine’s friend, Brendan Finn dies of liver cancer in Hellblazer #42 (from Garth Ennis and Will Simpson), a dark being appears on his doorstep, looking to collect his soul. It turns out Brendan had sold his soul to what is strongly implied to be the classic Christian Devil. While John eventually manages to fool this Devil long enough so that Brendan’s soul can enter Heaven, he ends up making a permanent enemy of what, for all intents and purposes, is presented as Satan. However, in Neil Gaiman’s legendary Sandman comic, fans later met another ruler of Hell known as Lucifer. This brought into question just exactly who it was that came to claim Brendan’s soul, and was set on claiming Constantine’s too.

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Satan, also known as the First of the Fallen, visits a priest in Ennis and Steve Dillon’s John Constantine: Hellblazer Special #1 where he confesses his origin, driving the man insane. Readers are later shown just exactly what was confessed at the end of the Rake at the Gates of Hell story arc. In this arc, the First of the Fallen explains his namesake, that he was the first being cast out of Heaven, long before Lucifer, and that he ended up in Hell before any other creature – long before Demons even existed. Two other beings are subsequently cast down, and the three form a ruling triumvirate, in which the First is the most powerful member, but not enough to overwhelm the others working together. Eventually, Lucifer leads his failed rebellion against God and is cast down into Hell, where he finds the First of the Fallen waiting.

The First Of The Fallen Predates Lucifer
sandman first of the fallen devil satan
This retcon served to explain why Lucifer wasn’t the one to go after Brendan’s soul and why when Morpheus entered Hell, it wasn’t Satan that he encountered but a different character entirely. The First of the Fallen even tells Constantine that the entire reason he was cast out of Hell was that he discovered that God was insane, and First of the Fallen was his conscience. Not wanting to listen to it anymore, God ripped him out and threw him as far as he could get from Heaven, which is a much darker backstory than Lucifer fighting to escape his Father’s authority. But it also perfectly explains the difference between them.

Lucifer Is an Antihero, the First Is a Villain
Lucifer sandman devil
The First of the Fallen is significantly more aggressive and evil than Lucifer. While Lucifer certainly isn’t a hero, he is fighting to escape God’s creation and ultimately acquire freedom in the cosmic sense. In contrast, the First of the Fallen has grown bitter and callous at being discarded in a world without meaning, and takes it out on humanity and Constantine in particular. John Constantine even meets Lucifer in issue 15 of Lucifer by Dan Watters and Fernando Blanco and seems to be on much better terms with him than First of the Fallen.

Sandman depicted a fascinating character in Lucifer, and DC cleverly retconned its existing mythology to differentiate the icy former angel from its brutish, overconfident original Satan. As a result, the First of the Fallen and Lucifer co-exist in Sandman lore, and DC gets two amazing villains for the price of one.

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