Beyond Guardian Space, in a far sector, lies The City Enduring, home to billions of sentient beings. Welcome. There’s been a murder.
Picking up right from where the previous issue left off, Far Sector #2 hurls forward at a solid pace, ever complicating the mystery that plagues our hero. But, for the sake of clarity and some good ol’ fun, let’s lay out the case right here, playing detectives for a hot minute. Although to do that, we do need to go over some of the complex world-building and alien species of Far Sector, so let’s do that first.
The Three Species Of The Trilogy
‘The Trilogy’ is the title of the three species that make up the world of City Enduring. All of them are different, with their own rich history and varied cultural backgrounds. But they’re all united by one thing: their lack of emotion. Still reeling from the impacts of colonialism, they made the choice to seal away all of their emotions through an artificially engineered product known as The Emotional Exploit. However, a new viral drug exists, which permits the inhabits of the city to experience and unlock their emotions once again. That drug is called Switchoff.
The Nah are the beings here with the closest resemblance to humans, despite still being very alien. Their big tails and wings are the big, obvious visual marker for that here. Also worth remembering, those wingfings of theirs? They’re venomous. Thus, these folks can take cyanide like it’s an extra ingredient in their tea. The wonders of odd alien biology! They bear absurdly long, fantastical names akin to titles, which is another dead giveaway. So for instance, the guy above might by ‘Marth’ but his proper name is Marth Of The Sea, By The Wavering Dark, Until The Sun Falls. The longer the name, the more important the individual, usually. You get the idea.
Wildly alien right off the bat and blurry in parts like some wild program just froze, these folks, pronounced ‘At-At’, are not biological beings. They’re technological creatures, as should be evident. Their names and titles are fashioned after Twitter Handles, which is a load of fun. And they’re, to be reductive, sentient search engines. That should give you a sense of them. @BlazeOfGlory is a key @At representative.
Meanwhile, the keh-Topli are effectively carnivorous plant creatures. They guard their all-important seed data with great strength and they’re beings who in the days of old consumed sentient after sentient, as they simply did not understand that other beings were not for eating. And when they consume? They consume more than just one’s body, they might fill themselves up with something more: your very soul.
The Case At Hand
Now, let’s get into this case. We’ve laid out all the basics above, so let’s discuss what we have on our hands. A Nah has been killed, consumed, by a keh-Topli. The keh-Topli culprit is suspected to have been on Switchoff for weeks before committing the crime, which is reminiscent of keh-Topli incidents back in the days of old, Pre-Emotional Exploit. And while the keh-Topli culprit was being detained in the police HQ, they were found murdered. And from that scene of the crime, what seemed to very clearly be a Nah ran off.
Now this is where Jo and us readers are at in terms of the details. A keh-Topli kills a Nah and then a Nah kills said keh-Topli. Clearly there’s a lot afoot here. Something big’s going on and it doesn’t quite track. To go as far as to kill off the culprit in the HQ and then run off is the kind of wild drawing-attention move that would never be done, unless something major was at stake somehow. Now, while Jo loses her murderer of a murderer, the mystery deepens here.
But let’s talk about Jamal Campbell here, who’s as spellbinding as ever. There’s such a distinct sense of style, a dynamism that’s exploding off these pages.
Look at the page here, there’s simply so much going on, which can be disorienting and some of that is communicated, especially in the last panel, as Jo’s very disoriented from the running and this site where there’s just so much to take in. But through all that, there’s an unmistakeable clarity of storytelling that makes all that work. The textures of Campbell’s work are lovely, as always, but we get to see them applied a bit differently for the first time. Jo, as seen above, makes hand constructs here. Hands have a long history in Green Lantern and DC Comics in general. GL architects John Broome and Gil Kane loved hands, seemingly, given their ubiquitous presence in the work. Hands are the signature construct of Hal Jordan, the eternal classic, the good ol’ favorite. But at the same time, a hand is what creates the entire DC Multiverse. A hand is at the heart, the very beginning, of all of existence. That image is prominent and classical.
So to get to see Jamal Campbell do that and with Jo, our new Lantern, is a load of fun, but the way he does it is just lovely. His soft, smooth textures are perfect here, as he details every little part of the hands, down to neat and well-maintained nails. That’s not the kind of construct anyone else makes. There’s a sense of style there. Jo makes lovely, stylish constructs, even pulling the good ol’ classics. Hal’s constructs, his hands, often tend to be much more simple and abstract, like fire, ever fluid, ever shifting, a bit more primordial, if you will. This is much more customized and Campbell’s style makes you feel like you know how that construct would feel like to touch. That’s the magic here. You feel like you’re there, in his world and you think you know how each element would feel, from the softness and snugness of the lovely white gloves to the glass-like construct spectacles Jo wields. They’re all made up, but they feel real and that’s what sells so much of Far Sector.
The Lantern We Deserve
The Green Lanterns are meant to be a concept that celebrates the diversity of the world, of the universe, but it is, regrettably not where it should be when it comes to representation. We haven’t yet had any representation of LGBTQ characters on the Corps, which is a tragic shame, as we’ve got armies of space aliens before queer individuals. Alan Scott, when he was rebooted for The New 52 initiative’s Earth 2 was gay, but since Earth 2 is long gone and it was an alternate world, where in Alan never even had any ties to the actual corps, it’s really hard to count that as proper representation in the franchise itself. Far Sector corrects that egregious error here, as we get the first openly queer human Lantern in the form of Jo. A queer black woman who’s modeled after Janelle Monae?! That is really, really good. And the best part is, the way it’s done, it’s not just a hint or what have you, the work doesn’t try to hide it, it’s open and matter of fact about it, which is thrilling. It’s always nice to see the franchise improve and do so especially with a character who’s really good, in a terrific book. Here we have a book wrestling with the effects of colonialism, the inter-sectional struggles black women face, with the stereotype of being ‘angry’, set against the backdrop of a place where in emotion, especially anger, is literally seen as dangerous, murderously so. Oh and it’s written by N.K Jemisin, one of the best and premiere science fiction and fantasy writers of the modern age. How wild is that?!
There’s a rather beautiful sequence here where in Syzn talks about how astonished she is by Jo, which really hits hard. All her life she’s been made to think her emotions are dangerous, her anger is vile and that emotions make you some thoughtless, illogical and foolish monster, that you need to be without them to function and accomplish anything. And yet here, before her very eyes, is Jo Mullein, who defies every facet of that utterly toxic idea. She’s emotional and logical, she’s in control of herself and she’s just one representative of so many more like her, from a legendary space agency, who run off the power of emotions. It’s a small moment, but it’s an empowering one, that touches on one of the core aspects of what makes the Green Lantern concept appealing.
Jemisin and Campbell make for an excellent team here, but Deron Bennett is the secret weapon of the book that really weaves it all together. His approach seamlessly blends Campbell’s artistic quirks with Jemisin’s dialogue and captions, carefully leading the reader through this space mystery. All that said, this is also one of the most well colored books out in the market. There’s one double-page spread in here of dancing, that is just an absolute joy to witness. Campbell’s colors alone tell the story, as deep, cold blues glow red in panic and then turn to purples to slam the reader with the impact of what’s really happening by the ending. A mystery’s all about how you disperse information and Campbell’s very good with that even when it comes down to the colors. And then, to cap off everything, we’re given a lovely quote from another great black writer of the past, Zora Neale Hurston. This book just keeps delivering.
Far Sector #2 continues the slow, deliberate pace of the book, but boy, if there isn’t stuff to consistently delight. This is the classical prestigious DC 12 maxi-series treatment applied to Green Lantern by an all-star team and if that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is. You owe it to yourself to dive into this world of big ideas.