N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell, Far Sector #1-6 (DC Comics; 2020)
N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campell’s Far Sector is a relevant, rich, and beautiful comic about Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, a black, queer, ex-cop from Earth, who has been assigned to a sector of space so far out it has no number. The set piece to the story is a murder. As we follow Lantern Mullein through the investigation of that murder we learn of the complex society to which she has been assigned.
The City Enduring in this far sector is made up of 23 billion citizens and three races known as the Trilogy. The Trilogy is made up of the Nah, who are humanoids with wings and tails, the @At, a race of cyber-beings, and the Keh-Topli, a race of carnivorous plants who have human-shape. The initial murder is of a Keh-Topli eating a Nah (something they used to do earlier in their history). I write initial murder as the Keh-Topli is murdered while in Peace Division custody—possibly to cover-up the first murder. As Lantern Mullein comments, “everything is complicated here.”
What makes Far Sector so riveting is not only are we, the readers, discovering the complexity of the City Enduring and its culture with Lantern Mullein, an example of immersive sub-creation owing to Jemisin’s masterful storytelling and Campbell’s stunning art, but this comic is also incredibly timely as it focuses on racism, classism, and police brutality. I write this review while protests over the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis police officer continue across the United States and spread across the globe. Racial injustice and protest is at the heart of Far Sector, as Jemisin has created a world in which tensions between the Trilogy are increasing. Jo’s own history as a whistle-blower because her white, male partner had beaten a black man during an arrest, combined with her being unjustly fired from the police force for a social media violation as she was tagged in a Black Lives Matter post of a friend adds current social commentary. These two events also lead her to be recruited by the Green Lantern Corp. As the Green Lantern recruiter comments to Jo about the police, “an assemblage of warriors ostensibly devoted to the security of their society and yet they fail to detain or exile their out-of-control cowards? Hmph.”
An example of the power of this comic is in the latest issue (#5). Jemisin asks hard questions about the power of protest and the role that law enforcement plays in their interactions with those who assemble to fight injustice. The protest surrounding the murder is an integral part of the on-going story as Lantern Mullein must keep the various factions separate while allowing their voices to be heard. She is also put in the middle as the Council has authorized the Peace Division to fire onto the protestors. What starts as a peaceful protest begins to escalate into a riot as the police threatens the crowd with increased numbers and guns. This is a testament to the power of this book: Lantern Mullein champions the power of protest and the voice of the people; the Peace Division is willing to sacrifice its citizens for order, something that Jo cannot abide (with a long history of Black protest empowering her).
Jemisin and Campbell gives us the best kind of comic book: socially relevant, masterful storytelling, gorgeous art. I cannot recommend Far Sector enough.
Christopher Michael Roman is Professor of English and the Graduate Studies Coordinator at Kent State University.