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A Pandemonium Question: Nergal?

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Admittedly I love Delano - so before catching up with the main series I scooped up Pandemonium, although it did leave me with a question or two.

 

Nergal, old Nemesis Number 2 (the first being, well the First) - supposedly a depraved human soul slain in ancient times who worked its way up the ladder of demonhood (but then what about his Nigh-Invincible Brother from the Carey Run?), or so sayeth the First of Fallen.

 

Yet Pandemonium has him cast in the role of a dispossessed Babylonian God. We know its him since Delano wheels out that good old blood connection, although he seems to mock the title "demon...."

 

So what is Nergal then really? Mortal who became a Demon who became a God? Old God who became a Demon?

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The First of the Fallen is a liar, right?

 

I think some of the problems come from there being TWO different Nergals in DC Comics actually.

One of them was a Golden Age Dr. Fate villain who was a mortal black magician, etc. etc.

I think Hellblazer started off playing off of that, in a Vertigo reformats a DCU character for "mature readers" way.

Jamie Delano's version of Nergal is using more authentic historical roots.

Nergal was a Babylonian deity which Christianity demonized later in history.

You can reconcile it by the fact that many old cultures gave a more fantastic spin on their ancient history, or what had been passed down as actual history (when it might have been myth to start), by changing seemingly mortal national heroes or leaders into deities.

If you want to look at it that way, Nergal could have been a powerful priest in early Babylonian society (probably from the city of Kuthu, I'd imagine) who was later remembered as a deity because of his great prowess.

Although, there's no record of this being the case with the actual mythology of Nergal.

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The First of the Fallen is a liar, right?

 

I think some of the problems come from there being TWO different Nergals in DC Comics actually.

One of them was a Golden Age Dr. Fate villain who was a mortal black magician, etc. etc.

I think Hellblazer started off playing off of that, in a Vertigo reformats a DCU character for "mature readers" way.

Jamie Delano's version of Nergal is using more authentic historical roots.

Nergal was a Babylonian deity which Christianity demonized later in history.

You can reconcile it by the fact that many old cultures gave a more fantastic spin on their ancient history, or what had been passed down as actual history (when it might have been myth to start), by changing seemingly mortal national heroes or leaders into deities.

If you want to look at it that way, Nergal could have been a powerful priest in early Babylonian society (probably from the city of Kuthu, I'd imagine) who was later remembered as a deity because of his great prowess.

Although, there's no record of this being the case with the actual mythology of Nergal.

 

Well i knew about the real world origins of Nergal (definitely one of the less pleasant Babylon deities).

 

My question was more to what that makes Nergal in the context of Hellblazer. Remember it was Delano who wheeled out Nergal as demon, and now seems to have retconned himself. Not that it matters, the story is still amusing.

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Umm, why can't Nergal be both a demon and a Babylonian god? It's not like they are necessarily mutually exclusive?

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Mortal who became a Demon who became a God?

 

Yep. One of the rules of faith in the Vertigo universe is that belief can change reality itself; if people believe in a god then that god will spring into existence (and retroactively have existed all along). There's no reason why Nergal couldn't have been a mortal soul who became a demon and then convinced the Babylonians that he was a god, thus becoming one himself.

 

As for the family thing - well, some demons are born and some demons are made. We don't know how hierarchies and lineages work in Hell. He could've been adopted into a bloodline, for example.

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I seem to recall the shifting back stories of demons etc are established as part of the Vertigo Heaven and Hell.

Was it since the Gaiman / Ennis days?

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Umm, why can't Nergal be both a demon and a Babylonian god? It's not like they are necessarily mutually exclusive?

 

Yeah, that's sort of the point.

Nergal was a Babylonian god...and now, historically speaking, he's considered a demon.

He was an Earth god with some attributes of a solar deity, representing the heat of Summer (the hottest part of Summer being known for extreme heat); he was also a deity of pestilence, and somewhere along the line, he got incorporated with the Babylonian underworld.

The Jewish tribes never liked Nergal, because he was a rival of their faith...and then later, Christianity found it easy to recognize Nergal as a demon of Hell because he was representative of heat, disease, and the underworld...all things which in the Christian view can be seen as traits of Hell and Satan.

 

If you look at Gaiman's view of Vertigo's mythology, when it comes to deities, everything is based on belief.

So, if a majority of people view Nergal based through the Christianized context, then a deity could become a denizen of Hell based on belief.

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Umm, why can't Nergal be both a demon and a Babylonian god? It's not like they are necessarily mutually exclusive?

 

Yeah, that's sort of the point.

Nergal was a Babylonian god...and now, historically speaking, he's considered a demon.

 

 

Ah but your imposing real world historicity upon Hellblazer's universe.

 

Let me put it this way - a set of chronological events have occurred, regardless of what human understandings of these events might be. Its not like humanity's collective belief constantly rewrites the universe and its previous history. At best, it creates deities/pantheons with little miniature pocket dimensions where they get to play god or goddess until humanity turns off the juice. There is one sole ontological exception to this, an Entity whose servants and "broken toys" superficially resemble the Judaeo-Christian faith, although those theological understandings are distortions - perhaps rose-colored glasses or humanocentric self-serving misinterpretations of the truth. A quick review of the behavior of Angels in Hellblazer can verify that.

 

_It_- the Voice, the Presence, the Source, or whatever moniker you wish to give it, does not simply exist because Humanity believed in it. Nor are its direct creations constrained in such a manner - after all Lucifer did go off and construct his own universe and populated it with humans, a swampthing like Plant-elemental, etc. An act of power no god or goddess born of the Dreaming ever could pull off.

 

So there's an objective manner in which the universe panned out, something immutable to changes in human perspective.

 

Enter Nergal - and here we have problems for...

 

1.) It could be as you say, that Nergal is the product of human imagination, a god born from the Dreaming that once upon a time like the Mexican Death God from "All His Engines" ruled from on high. And then had to swap affiliations in order to survive. He's a God who became a Demon (whose still a God?)....but not quite the type of Demon who got kicked out of the Silver City along with the First thof Fallen or Lucifer.

 

2.) Or he is in fact a Demon who got kicked out in that war and who later propelled himself to Godhood because the ancient Babylonians thought it to be true. He pre-existed their beliefs, and simply carved a niche for himself when they were concocting their "How the World Works" story.

 

3.) OR the First of Fallen was telling the truth. Nergal was in fact one of those ancient Babylonians, a rather vile soul who died, went to Hell, rose up the ranks of the Demon kind, and THEN pulled off what was stated in Option 2.

 

Either way, it raises more questions about Nergal... Like if Option 3 is right, how the heck does he have a demonic brother, Stecorax? And what does Nergal get from being both a God and a Demon?

 

 

 

But i digress, perhaps asking a little too much of continuity - after all, we see a Lady Ishtar in Pandemonium. Yet, if we were to follow the Sandman, we all know that Lady Ishtar spent here last days as a stripper before she performed one final act....

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Ah but your imposing real world historicity upon Hellblazer's universe. [0]

 

...

 

Enter Nergal - and here we have problems for...

 

1.) It could be as you say, that Nergal is the product of human imagination, a god born from the Dreaming that once upon a time like the Mexican Death God from "All His Engines" ruled from on high. And then had to swap affiliations in order to survive. He's a God who became a Demon (whose still a God?)....but not quite the type of Demon who got kicked out of the Silver City along with the First thof Fallen or Lucifer.

 

2.) Or he is in fact a Demon who got kicked out in that war and who later propelled himself to Godhood because the ancient Babylonians thought it to be true. He pre-existed their beliefs, and simply carved a niche for himself when they were concocting their "How the World Works" story.

 

3.) OR the First of Fallen was telling the truth. Nergal was in fact one of those ancient Babylonians, a rather vile soul who died, went to Hell, rose up the ranks of the Demon kind, and THEN pulled off what was stated in Option 2.

 

Either way, it raises more questions about Nergal... Like if Option 3 is right, how the heck does he have a demonic brother, Stecorax? And what does Nergal get from being both a God and a Demon? [4]

 

 

(0) Christian's not imposing these, the writers and editors have, and they work okay as long as you accept that basic (retro-active) explanation that the theo-mythical world changes. When those "gods" are superheroes these things get re-written all the time.

 

(1,2,3) Or none of these things are true and stories get put out there by people who are only aware of part of the truth (writers, readers, even characters in the stories - the latter being fundamental to the Gaiman option.)

 

(4) Brother, you need to chill out. ;-) Families are way more complicated than you're making out here. Here's a thing, what does Nergal get from people not knowing if he's a god or a demon? I am not saying this is the answer, I am suggesting that none of the above versions are mutually exclusive.

 

If you build theories up from a single character, it gets this complicated. If you work from Magic Stuff Is Not Real and do not seek to explain it, it works.

(And most of the magical stuff is just a writer ignoring, forgetting or not knowing what has been established.)

 

Think too much about it and we'll need Zero Hour again.

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(0) Christian's not imposing these, the writers and editors have, and they work okay as long as you accept that basic (retro-active) explanation that the theo-mythical world changes. When those "gods" are superheroes these things get re-written all the time.

 

Well yeah sure, you can Retconn to your hearts content. Or completely alter a fundamental aspect of a character, and tada you are in DC Elseworlds/Marvel "What If?" territory.

 

 

(4) Brother, you need to chill out. ;-) Families are way more complicated than you're making out here. Here's a thing, what does Nergal get from people not knowing if he's a god or a demon? I am not saying this is the answer, I am suggesting that none of the above versions are mutually exclusive.

 

If you work from Magic Stuff Is Not Real and do not seek to explain it, it works.

(And most of the magical stuff is just a writer ignoring, forgetting or not knowing what has been established.)

 

MMmmm. Well i do understand that a writer will just jump into the hotseat an crank out a story that's entertaining, devil-may-care what has come to past - no problems with that, and i'm sure the editor doesn' care as long as it sells.

 

But...i'd still argue that there is a set baseline of events for any character unless some uses the almighty "Hand of God" editorial privilege. Tell me that John didn't go bonkers an end up in Ravenscar, and you've veered completely from something that's been established. Sure, with a HOG edit it doesn't have to be true.

 

You can even take a theo-mythical creature and end up in the same territory. Morpheus/Dream of the Endless is dead. It died in a very specific manner, removed by it's own sister after having its kingdom assailed by the Kindly Ones. True? Yes, again unless someone wants to HOG Edit..... which would completely implode the morality tale Gaiman had created but hey...

 

 

Think too much about it and we'll need Zero Hour again.

 

LOL, but you see for me, that's the fun part - how are they going to work/rework and make all the pieces fit.

 

By my nature i am quite speculative A. Heathen, so yes this constitutes a sort of fun for me - like an abstract version of Legos. :smile:

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Nergal was a Babylonian god...and now, historically speaking, he's considered a demon.

He was an Earth god with some attributes of a solar deity, representing the heat of Summer (the hottest part of Summer being known for extreme heat)

you mean Sumer.

And suddenly the question arises, the word Summer comes from Sumer?

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Its not like humanity's collective belief constantly rewrites the universe and its previous history.

 

It's exactly like that, cf. Lucifer and The Sandman. Once a god exists it has always existed - even if it hadn't always existed yesterday.

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Its not like humanity's collective belief constantly rewrites the universe and its previous history.

 

It's exactly like that, cf. Lucifer and The Sandman. Once a god exists it has always existed - even if it hadn't always existed yesterday.

 

 

That's a little off kilter. Esp. when you take into account the existence of the Endless themselves, the Lords of Chaos and Order, and the Presence who rules the Silver City.

 

None of these beings came into existence by an act of creative will of Humanity. Moreover, they can remember points in time when well, those little gods who emanated from the Dreaming did not exist.

 

Heck, these gods and entities themselves can too. Remember Sandman Presents: Bast? the debate that occurred between an overenthusiatic cat devotee of Bast and a Sabertooth tiger which represented a more Primal Fear? It literally said, "I Predate your Goddess."

 

Look, ultimately Cosmology is determined by Editorial Fiat, as A. Heathen said:

 

(And most of the magical stuff is just a writer ignoring, forgetting or not knowing what has been established.)

 

Here, perfect example - the Presence.

 

So some people automatically identify that....thing.. that rules the Silver City with the Judaeo-Christian God and apply the whole "Gods need votes from Humanity in order to maintain themselves" schema....

 

...Except Gaiman himself explicitly stated that the Silver City doesn't = Heaven, and the Unknown Being who runs it is not any particular God, much less the Judaeo-Christian one. Its something...beyond, and he runs with that idea in his Murder Mysteries mini-series.

 

However, that's Gaiman's interpretation (which does amount to authorial intent at least). Other writers built links to his Mysterious Being and started well doing the following = The Voice from Spectre = the Source from New Gods = Etc. = Etc.

 

Then Carey came along and decided to cement the relationship - the Unknown Being _is_ the Judaeo-Christian god, a variation with artistic license. And promptly kicked him and Lucifer out leaving a mortal in charge of everything.

 

Lucifer appeared in the Shadow Dog story arc of Hellblazer, watching idly as the Beast consumed humanity. Yet, John's later interactions with "Heaven" doesn't register the outcome of the Lucifer series, he's not trading jibes with Elaine Belloc - new ruler of the universe.

 

 

Why? Editorial Fiat - and most probably because it would be boring.

 

We've apparently moved to the point where attempting to stitch things together is no longer viable - while the DCU needs to do that and cranks out the "reset" series like Crisis, Zero Hour, 52 Weeks, etc to do a house cleaning - Vertigo slowly moved away from that.

 

What's true for one series is no longer true for another...until the almighty Editorial hand says it to be so.

 

Hell, forget about between series, how about just between runs within a specific work.

 

Ex. Merlin/King Arthur from Delano's run vs. Jenkins' rendition.

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Nergal was a Babylonian god...and now, historically speaking, he's considered a demon.

He was an Earth god with some attributes of a solar deity, representing the heat of Summer (the hottest part of Summer being known for extreme heat)

you mean Sumer.

And suddenly the question arises, the word Summer comes from Sumer?

 

No, I believe it was Nerigal in Sumerian.

Kuthu was located in Sumer though. My mistake.

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Hell, forget about between series, how about just between runs within a specific work.

 

Ex. Merlin/King Arthur from Delano's run vs. Jenkins' rendition.

 

Well, doesn't this get directly to the heart of your very question then, unless you want to argue for an answer just for the sake of arguing about it?

How do you reconcile the different versions of Merlin?

You really can't. One was Delano's version while the other was Jenkins.

That's the problem with the new tight continuity being used in HB, as HB was a series where continuity meant very well.

Each writer's tenure seemed to be mainly self-contained.

Delano had a definitive ending for his Hellblazer. Ennis ignored it and started his own version of the mythos. Etc.

So, how do you reconcile differences with Nergal? Well, you can try, but there's probably no definitive answer, nor does there really need to be. It's different creative visions on a certain character.

So, yeah, as someone wrote, you can view the universe of HB was one being recreated by a deity every moment.

One minute Nergal is a mortal damned to Hell, the next he's a Mesopotamian god condemned to Hell later.

In another, he could be a homeless guy who learned magic spells from The Golden Dawn.

John can't see these patterns, because his world has been recreated in the interstices between moments of the creator's thoughts of existence. For John, it's always been whatever the creator says at a particular moment.

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Its not like humanity's collective belief constantly rewrites the universe and its previous history.

 

It's exactly like that, cf. Lucifer and The Sandman. Once a god exists it has always existed - even if it hadn't always existed yesterday.

 

 

That's a little off kilter. Esp. when you take into account the existence of the Endless themselves, the Lords of Chaos and Order, and the Presence who rules the Silver City.

 

None of these beings came into existence by an act of creative will of Humanity. Moreover, they can remember points in time when well, those little gods who emanated from the Dreaming did not exist.

 

Heck, these gods and entities themselves can too. Remember Sandman Presents: Bast? the debate that occurred between an overenthusiatic cat devotee of Bast and a Sabertooth tiger which represented a more Primal Fear? It literally said, "I Predate your Goddess."

 

Look, ultimately Cosmology is determined by Editorial Fiat, as A. Heathen said:

 

 

 

OK, to address the first point...The Endless, Lords of Order and Chaos, and the Preense are not deities.

Or, the Presense may be, or not. I forget exactly who this being is you're talking about, but you said later that he was explicity stated to not be the Monotheist God, so I'd assume the intent of the Presense wasn't originally as a deity.

But, at the same time, the Lords of Order and Chaos are certainly deeply affected by humanity's consciousness.

I believe that the Lords of Order and Chaos are dependent on conscious beings with creativity and free will.

They might exist beforehand, but only for a certain period of time, as eventually Chaos must give way to Order, and then again, Order will give way to Chaos again.

The whole point was that deities are created through human consciousness though.

 

Next, how do you know that the deities very existence isn't created and controled by human consciousness?

Did Bast realize that she didn't always exist before humanity knew it?

We are discovering facts about history and archaelology all the time, and that changes the consciousness of humanity when it comes into contact with new facts.

A fundamentalist Christian will say that the Judeo-Christian God has always been and was never invented.

But, you might argue, "What about the deities who were known before the concept of Judaism existed? Or, what about the time when Yahweh existed as a god in the mountains alongside a pantheon of other deities?".

So, how does all this change the consciousness of a deity?

 

The Judeo-Christian God may reply to a Sabre-tooth Tiger god that "He" created the Sabre-tooth Tiger and the Sabre-Tooth Tiger god's memory must be faulty.

And, then, since "He's" the only True God, "He'd" think the Sabre-tooth Tiger god must be a demon of Hell.

 

I believe that what James was referring to was the power of myth, that the gods react or change based on our myths.

But, we're only talking deities.

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Well, doesn't this get directly to the heart of your very question then, unless you want to argue for an answer just for the sake of arguing about it?

 

That's the problem with the new tight continuity being used in HB, as HB was a series where continuity meant very well.

Each writer's tenure seemed to be mainly self-contained.

 

 

 

Eek, i don't know why this is becoming a contentious issue, but you actually kind of answered why i'm asking.

 

 

We're dealing head on with a new tight continuity. I mean, look, DC/Vertigo line editors have always seemed to want it both ways - allow the individual writers to play but some how make sense of it all at the end of day.

 

Case in point:

 

Garth Ennis creates the Devil without calling it the First of Fallen for his initial Hellblazer stories. His character is a petty, selfish, rough, and brutal figure.

 

Meanwhile, Gaiman introduces Lucifer. He's David Bowie who acts like Milton's character.

 

 

I can't remember who pointed out, but someone on the editorial staff goes, "We have two Devils. Fix this."

 

And its done, i think by Ennis, as there's a Hellblazer scene recounting the fall of the morningstar in his anguish with the now named First of Fallen standing over him giving him the "Welcome to Hell" look.

 

the Retroactive answer is propagated across the Board - Now Lucifer (shown ruling Hell in Sandman) is said to have essentially kept out of the affairs of rulership letting the First of Fallen along with the other two "of Fallen" run the show....until around the time of Dream's jaunt into Hell.

 

 

Paradox Resolved.

 

And i was simply asking if this Paradox regarding Nergal met with a similar neat answer. Apparently it does not.

 

 

That's the problem with the new tight continuity being used in HB, as HB was a series where continuity meant very well.

 

Well that's valid for the Delano run. Bear in mind, i like the Delano run, its probably my favorite run.

 

But since Ennis, John has accumulated history. He got his Lex Luthor (First of Fallen), he had his immortal failed love (Kit - until Milligan apparently decided to hat-trick the issue), etc.

 

you could still argue that they were disconnected runs with some carryover, pieces of history that were fact while the rest were passed over in silence.

 

then Carey happened. Now its not really possible to do that anymore as he made a monumental effort to essentially rationalize the history of Hellblazer so it did in fact make some sort of sense.

 

Diggle followed suit right? A pinch of John from Allan Moore, and a plot device from Delano with the Golden boy. Wave your hands and tada, we have the answer to "Why do bads thing happen to John" - the Answer becomes the Golden Boy.

 

And the trend is contiuing with Milligan, we are visiting/revisiting John's past again and again and again, pulling more and more from it and making that Continuity Noose ever so tighter....

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OK, to address the first point...The Endless, Lords of Order and Chaos, and the Preense are not deities.

 

I know. I bring them up only address the point about "gods popping into existence and thereby existing for all time." You can't have that occur when you have a set of Entities that pre-date them. That's what the list above signifies - Entities that Predate them.

 

Ugh, i'm doing a bad job on this thread triyng to explain myself. Let's take an example: Destiny's Book - its the immutable record of the universe's history. He reads it while the event is happening. There are no retroactive changes to the book. If time travels occurs, its there in the footnotes.

 

That means when a God pops into existence - Destiny's got the Real Time GPS tracking of i dunno Zeus coming into being. He pops into existence, Thunderbolt in hand or whatever with his mythic history. Olympus pops into existence as well.

 

But this isn't a retroactive reworking of the cosmos. Why? Cause i can turn 2 pages back and show that Zeus didn't exist until 2 pages later. I can turn to the front portion of the record with the mysterious "In the Beginning" that Destiny read and show that Zeus wasnt athte beginning.

 

That his creation occurs at a definitive point in time.

 

 

Next, how do you know that the deities very existence isn't created and controled by human consciousness?

 

Oh i'm willing to admit to that - but that strikes at the heart of the Nergal question, because i asked what is he (at least in terms of the current editorial shift).

 

You said it yourself, deities are affected by human consciousness (although to what extant..nevermind that's another conversation).

 

What if he was a Demon first? They don't follow the same rules...

 

ex. I can get the whole universe to think that the First of the Fallen is Santa Claus. that ain't going to do anything to him. He's freestanding entity, that happens to fall under the "I predate you" situation. Same applies to someone as low as Etrigan the Demon. "I wish it to be true" isn't going to shape him.

 

At best Demons will simply play to the expectations of humans, but no fundamental changes to their character will occur simply by an act of human consciousness.

 

 

 

So, how does all this change the consciousness of a deity?

 

Doesn't that have to be determined on a case by case basis? Back when Vertigo was being touted as "the dark Corner of the DCU, run away children" - you'll encounter lots of entities doing exactly what you stated. Heck, "All My Engines" had that Mexican Death God acting like that at the beginning until good old ConJob gave him a reminder.

 

And then you'll find those who are incredibly self-aware of just how fragile they are.

 

Its kind of hard to say for instance, I am the True God, Creator of the Universe, the Be All and End all, etc....when your Lover/Friend is Dream of the Endless - who can tell you how you came to be.

 

Deny it? You can. Except, since you are a human construct while you may able to account for the origin of everyone in your pantheon, you can't necessarily do that for the Other Gods. Call them Demons if you will....except then you have Hell's Demons which act so very different and aren't constrained by the rules you perceive to exist.

 

Furthermore, your stuck playing "Cosmic Idol" - You see other Deities die. You can feel the ebb and flow of your power. How can you be the True God if your power Ebbs and Flows?! How can you call the Other Gods false if they are following the same routine?

 

All the while, your interacting with things far greater than you. The Lords of Chaos and Order (while admittedly are effected by human thought), are not constrained the way you are. HEck, you don't even remember creating them! Then how are you the Creator?

 

Its worse with the Endless. You can see they have no temples, that conscious beings hardly ever acknowledge their existence. And yet they persist.

 

And in your old age, starved for worship, you'll notice that the beliefs you had are starting not to make sense. You'll never get to finish Ragnarok now - your opposition is dead. Apep the Serpent of Chaos is dead, a being you thought you would eternally battle.

 

Everything you have based your identity on is falling apart at the seams, and those gods you supposedly called "False" - well some of them never looked better. How can you possiblely explain that o Creator of Humanity?

 

And then one day, your former lover/current friend's Older Sister knocks on your door.....

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Its not like humanity's collective belief constantly rewrites the universe and its previous history.

 

It's exactly like that, cf. Lucifer and The Sandman. Once a god exists it has always existed - even if it hadn't always existed yesterday.

Can. Of. Worms.

 

Also, this doesn't seem to be the same in the Sandman mythology vs. the Lucifer myhtology vs. the Hellblazer mythology.

 

I find it makes most sense to read the different series fairly separate from each other. Especially HB. In Hellblazer, the cosmology isn't nearly as defined or precise as in Lucifer and Sandman. And more importantly: It doesn't need to be, for the stories to work.

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That's a little off kilter. Esp. when you take into account the existence of the Endless themselves, the Lords of Chaos and Order, and the Presence who rules the Silver City.

 

AFAIK The Presence is distinct from Yahweh, who's just a god, albeit a kick-ass one with the most believers (and thus the most power).

 

The Endless aren't gods so the rules don't apply to them. No idea who the Chaos and Order guys are, but I'll assume they're not either.

 

The whole 'human belief rewrites the past, all religious explanations of the creation of the universe are literally true even if they contradict each other' thing has been a constant in Gaiman's work, inc. American Gods and Anansi Boys.

 

Heck, these gods and entities themselves can too. Remember Sandman Presents: Bast?

 

Nah, I don't read spin-offs. Except for Lucifer, obv. No idea why Sabertooth tiger can't predate Bast though. Bast has only always existed since Ancient Egypt (note wording there). Sabretooth presumably started always existing back in the cold and distant past.

 

Nergal was some paedophile who died. He became a demon. Then he made people think he was a god. So then he became a god. And now he's a demon when in Hell and a god when in his old stomping grounds. Sorted.

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The whole 'human belief rewrites the past, all religious explanations of the creation of the universe are literally true even if they contradict each other' thing has been a constant in Gaiman's work, inc. American Gods and Anansi Boys.

Nope. Belief doesn't rewrite the PAST, but shapes the PRESENT in both those books. The only place belief rewrites the past is AFAIK in the "dream of a thousand cats", which is best treated as apocrypha, and a fun story, not gospel, since it completely and utterly fucks up any causality.

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Nope. Belief doesn't rewrite the PAST, but shapes the PRESENT in both those books. The only place belief rewrites the past is AFAIK in the "dream of a thousand cats", which is best treated as apocrypha, and a fun story, not gospel, since it completely and utterly fucks up any causality.

 

:nod nod:

 

Its kind of why i got severely confused when people started reaching for the "theo-mythic world changes" per Sandman/Lucifer paradigm.

 

It does, but within a certain limit established by the writers themselves. before someone says i'm belaboring a point, bear in mind that these writers didn't just invent their frameworks on the fly - they really did think them out, perhaps because they were self-conscious of creating a coherent myth cycle and had ownership over their series.

 

Their main characters inhabited theo-mythic worlds, but there's a severe difference in kind (not by degree) between Dream/Lucifer and a god like Ra. And those...gradations? they invented for the types of beings that inhabit their stories prevent the "theo-mythic world" from being an undifferentiated mass where everyone is following the same trend.

 

Chronology and as Red intimated, Causality are preserved.

 

AFAIK The Presence is distinct from Yahweh, who's just a god, albeit a kick-ass one with the most believers (and thus the most power).

 

Well that issue is a clustefck, but its a good example.

 

Kick everything about the Sandman/Lucifer and run with the "theo-mythic world changes due to collective human wlll" - if that's really the case for Hellblazer, than Yahweh and his creations have been getting a pass from that since day 1.

 

Take Gabriel, traditionally conceived of for centuries in both Islam and Christianity as friend of humanity, a comforter, a bearer of good news whether in the form of the coming of Jesus or the dictation of the Koran.

 

Then take one look at Garth Ennis' Gabriel. See the difference - how come centuries of belief just got discounted?

 

Heck, an even more egregious violation - the foundational point of Christianity is the virgin birth of a savior being who happens to be the only son of god. blahblahblah

 

Yet Gabriel...

 

"He'd committed rape behind a carpenter's in Nazareth, and a cycle of agony began that ended on a hill above Jerusalem...

 

Hellblazer 64 - Gabriel raped a woman named Mary.....there goes a few centuries worth of faith and theology.

 

The generally unsympathetic nature of the portrayal of angels runs counter to what people in the real world actually believe about such theoretical entities.

 

Taking a look at the portrayal of the god itself, and the dissonance becomes even larger. It is neither the fundamentalist rendition (see Preacher for a comparison) nor the god of compassion. Instead we have a master manipulator.

 

Injecting in the breadth of Vertigo, that's the one quality that keeps popping up

 

1.) In the Jenkins run, the god tells King Arthur an obscure piece of knowledge - betting that Arthur would go tell Merlin and thereby kill him with a bobby-trapped piece of lore.

 

2.) In the Sandman, It sends two angels telling them they would be "observers" during the auction of Hell...only to pull the rug from under them.

 

3.) In Lucifer, It openly admits to setting up the main character. Sin, Hell, Evil, Lucifer's Fall - that's all part of the plan - a fact that would violate central theologies/beliefs held by either fundamentalist or mainstream religious sects.

 

Heck, It comes out and says that the reason for the existence of the universe does not correlate with the central beliefs of the Abrahamic faiths - rather its a testing ground to decide between his two Sons - Michael Demiurgos and Lucifer (buh-bye Jesus - you just got disenfranchised....and there goes the central dogma of a whole religion).

 

 

The end of Lucifer kind seals the deal on that one. _It_ asks a philosophical question of two people whether the universe should continue - quite ready to destroy, worshippers and all.

 

No god of any other religion would go that far - they need worshippers to survive. And no real Christian, Muslim, or Jew would be able to recognize the god i've just described.

 

Why all the dissonance? Simple answer is it makes a good story.

 

But since post-Gaiman, writers have identified Yahweh with the Presence. But, the irony behind that is quite funny.

 

The believers in other faiths have knowledge of their Gods. Their general wants, desires, hatreds, etc. They KNOW them. When you see Odin "on screen" in a story he acts like Odin, the way you would expect him to act. Loki doesn't do charity work and Thor won't discourse about rocket science. Where they go "wrong" is gauging their importance in the universe.

 

Those following the Abrahamic faiths are ontologically correct about the being they've identified. This thing which happens to be named Yahweh is in fact the Creator. But they don't know their God. What it wants, what its plans are, what their place in the universe is.... its completely subverted.

 

Their faith, unlike those of other religions, has no effect on It or its creations. Because ultimately its a different kind of being, one that has no need of worship or faith.

 

As one commentator on Lucifer once said, Its really more like a Deist God in a Judaeo-Christian wrapper - something which even applies to Gaiman's rendition. Some details like the Name and events like Lucifer's fall are preserved. But beyond these superficial elements....

 

It has to go down this way though, otherwise we wouldn't have Hellblazer.

 

We'd have Constantine with Keanu Reeves. :P

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Quietscholar, while I certainly agree with you on several points, your main mistake is in trying to nail Sandman, Lucifer and Hellblazer to the same cosmology. Lucifer departs substantially from Gaiman's established mythology, especially in the later part. [ Spoiler : Remember, in Elaine Belloc's New Order, there IS NO HELL! This is never reflected in Hellblazer, naturally. ]

 

Mythology in Hellblazer is by far a lot more amorphous and undefined than in both Sandman and Lucifer, and that's IMHO a Good Thing, since HB deals primarily with ground-level drama, not universe-changing events.

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There is no causality. It's magic, FFS!

 

All the creation myths are true. That's the point.

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