DC | Young Animal
(w) N.K. Jemisin (a) Jamal Campbell
Arguably there is no better time to be a Green Lantern reader than right now. While Geoff Johns’ work is considered legendary in building the mythology, the stories being told right now in the pages of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern are in another class. Right alongside The Green Lantern is Far Sector. As a part of DC’s Young Animal imprint, it’s able to take a superhero concept – in this case the Green Lantern Corps – and craft a compelling narrative without needing to tie directly into the DC Universe proper. The book’s creative team, N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell, have used the Green Lantern Corps and a distant world as a commentary on social prejudices and power structures that have recently come under intense examination.
Far Sector #6 opens with a brilliant recap page that is tongue-in-cheek and self-aware in its lampooning of romance novels. It’s engaging, humorous, and effective in catching readers up on the events of the book. It also acts as a shadow-spoiler for events that take place later in the issue, before diving headfirst into a discussion on an issue that has become even more pressing in recent days: accountability. Specifically, Far Sector #6 touches on accountability for those in positions of power over an unjust system. As has been the case for most of Far Sector, the battles to be fought are not done through bombastic action (though that does play a role), but through ideological discourse.
The major conflict of the series has been between those looking to maintain the status quo of an emotionless, rational society and those citizens fighting for their right to emote. Tensions within the City Enduring are running high after a peaceful protest against the Emotion Exploit – the macguffin that controls emotion – are attacked and gunned down by police. Like most great sci-fi, this premise parallels the painful truths of the real world, where the last two weeks have seen civil unrest and protest against racist police brutality. But the parallels end with the core element of Far Sector #6, as one of the council members reveals to Jo Mullien he is actively stepping down – not because of political pressure or blowback, but because it is simply the right thing to do.
The last decade or so has seen no shortage of new Lantern characters, but Jo Mullien is arguably the most interesting – or at least the most fleshed out. Whereas Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz seemed to cause a logjam in the already crowded contingent of Earth-based Green Lanterns, the isolation in Far Sector has allowed Jo to grow and develop into a fully-fleshed out character. She is not defined by a singular characteristic like most of the other Green Lanterns, save for perhaps Kyle Rayner. Her multifaceted character offers greater opportunity for readers to identify with her, while still maintaining her own unique perspective. As a result, Jo has been a great reader-proxy throughout Far Sector.
The messaging in Far Sector #6 is strong, and the artwork by Campbell is equal to the task. The book is very cinematic in its quality. The characters are expressive, the visuals are stunning, but what makes the artwork most effective is his willingness to linger on a singular image, such as clasped hands or a foreground shelf, that allows the rest of the artwork to breathe.
When Counciler Marth approaches Jo, Jemisin and Campbell initially play the sequence for laughs. Marth fumbles around, expressing a feeling of attraction while also being confused about the courting rituals of Earth. But the humor is effective in having readers put their guards down, which causes the remainder of their interaction to be impactful. Marth expresses remorse for what happened to the protestors, and a willingness to put politics aside for the greater good. While this affirms that Marth is definitely a fictional being from another planet, it is nonetheless great to see a person in a leadership position preemptively express remorse, take responsibility, and take action for their role in a societal wrongdoing.
By showcasing an alternative, Jemisin and Campbell shine a light on the political tribalism that has infected public discourse. Not only is every matter a political one, but individuals no longer feel the freedom to change their position, even when presented with factual evidence that proves it to be wrong. Conviction is a strength, but willful ignorance is not. As a result, Far Sector is not just a good Green Lantern story, it is a great story that speaks to this moment in history.