Far Sector #1
Deron Bennett (letterer), Jamal Campbell (artist), Maggie Howell (assistant editor), N. K. Jemisin (writer), Andy Khouri (editor)
DC’s Young Animal
November 13, 2019
Far Sector #1 opens up with a scene of beauty: a decapitated hand, spattered in violet blood, a spike-tipped wingfin, torn and splintered, and the reflections of a towering city, drowned in vivid colour as the rain pours down. Splattered in cool blues and purples that seep into the warmth of amber lighting, this opening page is meant to shock with its gory subject matter.
I was indeed shocked, but my surprised gasp had less to do with the violent murder itself than with its stunningly gorgeous portrayal. Jamal Campbell’s work is ethereal and this dichotomy of violence and beauty emanates throughout the issue, shaping each panel into a treasure trove to be appreciated from every angle. I had already pre-ordered this series on the strength of N. K. Jemisin’s writing alone, but even this stunning cover did not prepare me for this breathtaking journey to the far side of the universe.
From outer space, zooming into cityscapes, back alleys, or council chambers, Campbell’s lines—sometimes wispy thin, sometimes thick and severe—zigzag and swerve through Jemisin’s worldbuilding. The city hums with the soft yet vibrant lighting that hides secrets in the shadows. We instantly understand that this is a technologically advanced world that favours metal and illusion, but hints of organic matter peek from corners.
There are three species that “the human,” Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, must contend with: the Nah, the @at, and the keh-Topli. Each Trilogy race and each character within it is uniquely designed in facial and body structures, as well as attire. Campbell’s artistry extends well into the costuming of the characters, with Mullein standing out in her Green Lantern costume. Reminiscent of a classic look from the X-Men’s Rogue, Mullein’s costume gives a distinctive feeling of business professional up top, and ass-kicking professional below. But when she first appears, she’s wearing a lantern-crafted poncho with which Campbell shows the ephemeral fluidity of her powers and how she chooses to use them.
The second thing that leaps from each page is the lettering. Deron Bennett’s very deliberate choices are both good and bad. Lantern Mullein’s narrations punctuate the panels in deep green boxes that sometimes are opaque, and sometimes let the backgrounds peek through.
Mixed case is not typical for comics, but for the most part, the choice works well here—and allows for greater accessibility for readers. The choice falters, however, when the font switches for the more synthetic dialect of the @at characters, where the text becomes choppy and harder to read. The @at dialogue is already defined with sharply edged word bubbles (in contrast to their softer colouring and appearance), so this font choice was not really necessary. Hopefully it reads better in the print edition, but otherwise, this is my only real complaint about the issue thus far.
Considering that it was Jemisin who brought me to Far Sector #1, it’s telling that I’m 400 words into the review and only just now touching on the actual story. This is Jemisin’s first foray into comics, but she has clearly mastered the art of letting the imagery do its job.
Mullein is a Green Lantern originating from New York. We get miniscule hints about her past, but it is her present that is the priority, having spent just enough time now in the City Enduring to get to know the ways of the Trilogy races. She is investigating a murder—the first in 500 years—and, as with any good crime drama, she’s on a deadline to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Not because she must catch the murderer. That part’s already been taken care of. As always, murder means politics, and that’s what Mullein has to deal with when she’s summoned before the Trilogy Council.
Here we get into the nitty-gritty of the hierarchy and learn that, unlike Mullein, the people of the City Enduring are subject to the Emotion Exploit. This means that, despite the dynamically depicted range of emotions, the people don’t actually feel anything. Ironically, we get to see Mullein’s much more measured response to everything she witnesses, as well as “hear” her thoughts. Through her posture and words spoken and unspoken, we get to know a woman who is calculating and rational, only willing to take definitive action when she is certain of where she stands.
Again, as with any good crime drama, Mullein hits a wall when dealing with the higher-ups. Being the only one who knows how to deal with murder cases (even though this is only her first), she determines that she must do things her way, starting with asking questions and speaking with the murderer.
That’s when things go awry.
Just as it begins, Far Sector #1 closes with the same shocking beauty and and violence, followed by a call to action for Mullein. Whatever is going on must be stopped, and though Mullein doesn’t quite know where she stands in this case, that ring on her finger means she’s going to get shit done. And I am here for every gorgeously rendered minute of it.