"Highwayman: Heavenly Lights" by Koren Shadmi
This has always been an interesting project, a mystery unfolding slowly over the course of many years, Lucas in the far future with a bad and not much else, trying to find some meaning to what seems to have been a long life. And here, well, to say I'm surprised that the series will be ending on the next installment is...a bit of a surprise. I'm hoping that it's not being truncated for some reason, but at the least it means that the pacing has just AMPED UP and the mysteries that have surrounded Lucas from the beginning of the story are starting to be answered. This chapter opens not in the future but in the distant past, in the era of the early colonization of North America by white Europeans. Lucas is a member of what looks to be a pilgrim village that isn't really doing well. He's got (presumably) a wife who is very sick and he's going out to hunt. And...well, weirdness ensues. As does some rather shocking violence. Now, throughout the series one of my hesitations about the story has been the level and kinds of violence depicted. Lucas has always been someone okay with violence. He takes it and he dishes it out. Only he can't really die. Hurt, yes, but here we see him in the past and he's...very fucking violent. It might reflect the reality of the time, and perhaps that's what the story is revealing, that there has always been this colonial violence underpinning the West and especially America. If this is the beginning of Lucas, then this is also the beginning of the country, and with a beginning like this, so full of violence and grief, then is it any surprise that things turn out the way they do.
Now, there's something to be said for that reading, for seeing Lucas not as a victim in all of this exactly but as someone acting out the roll of the colonizer, the invader. Lucas has always played at being passive but it seems to be a way of avoiding his past and the responsibility to act rather than any real moral superiority. He's a picture of American imperialism, merciless at the beginning and then shifting the narrative to cast himself as the affable and ineffective white person. Morose and jaded but still very much benefiting from systemic racism and abuse. For Lucas the story is all about himself and his own hardship and loss, but underneath that, ground under the boot of that, there is something else. There is the truth that Lucas is not the victim here. He's fucking immortal and while everyone suffers around him because of poverty and inequality he just walks through it, sad about his situation but also not having to worry where his next meal is coming from. I very much hope that the series is going to lead to some place where it will confront the way it has built up this world. If this beginning is Lucas and the pilgrims, is the colonization of the Americas, then the ending (hopefully) must confront that. Must face that and Lucas' role in that. And also hopefully must imagine what comes after that. I want there to be hope here, even as the setting is bleak as fuck. I want this violence to be justified somehow. And I guess I don't have long to find out how the ending plays out. So yes, for me this continues to be a very conflicting read but I hope one that's going to follow through on its promise. Because it is a layered and interesting text, just one that it's hard to truly enjoy because of the ugliness it treats with. But certainly something to check out and make your own mind up about.