Far Sector #6
Written by N.K. Jemesin
Art by Jamal Campbell
Lettering by Deron Bennett
Published by DC
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
If there’s any Big Two comic that truly feels ripped from today’s headlines, it has to be Far Sector #6. Created in the days before COVID-19, writer N.K. Jemesin and artist Jamal Campbell’s story hits with a different kind of weight today, as Green Lantern Sojourner Mullein struggles with how to move forward in the aftermath of interstellar police shooting alien protestors. It’s hard to escape the real-world parallels given the real-world protests against police brutality and government corruption, and given Jo’s own role as a space cop, it makes Far Sector #6 a sometimes discomfiting but always thought-provoking read.
The City Enduring is a world that’s defined by its stoicism, by its lack of emotions — but Jemesin posits that emotion is the only way we see true reflection and change. But what makes this book so disarming and complex is the characters she uses to convey this message: Councilor Marth, for example, is the man who ordered the deaths of a dozen protestors… yet immediately reflects and takes himself to task for adopting the methods of colonizers past. Even Mullein has her own messiness to grapple with — both as a female person of color who might have some shadiness in her past as an ex-cop, and as someone who sleeps with a person of interest because of her own feelings of isolation.
There’s no easy answers to Jo Mullein’s life, and despite the investigation ahead of her, there seems to be no easy choices as to what comes next. Even Marth has some big questions to contend with, given that his use of the emotion-enhancing Switchoff gives him two wildly different leadership styles. It’s something that I imagine most readers of this book might be feeling watching the news or looking outside your window — these uneasy intersections of legal injustice, smothering policies, and entrenched interests. If anything, Far Sector might just feel like a cleaner, less complicated version of what we’re seeing out in the real world today.
Yet some of that cleanness comes from Jamal Campbell’s incredible sci-fi artwork. The City Enduring could look like the cyberpunk dystopias of a Blade Runner, but what he does is so much more clever — Campbell makes the city look positively utopian, a sort of crystal metropolis filled with bright purples, greens, and blues. A paradise that you can’t tell has some pretty rotten roots holding it all together.
But Campbell anchors that with some real expressiveness to his characters — Jo obviously is the showstopper, as the only person who can legally show emotion, but he also has a deft hand with Marth, who seems thoughtful and desiring of morality, even if it’s unclear whether he’s acting in his right mind. Even the more perfunctory battle elements of this series look terrific, particularly the chaotic way that Jo’s Green Lantern ring builds its constructs, or even subtle bits like the A.I. sidekick @ICanHazEarthStuff downloading herself into Jo’s headpiece.
With the one-two punch of COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd, Far Sector #6 doesn’t just have its finger on the pulse of what’s going on today — it’s downright prescient. And perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t make moves to try to solve today’s injustices in the span of 20 pages, but instead allows itself — and its readers — the space to absorb and digest what’s going on. It’ll take a lot more than just one Green Lantern to solve the problems that our real world faces today, but if Sojourner Mullein can shed even a little bit of light to yield some deeper understanding, then you’ll see why this book is more than just another superhero beat-’em-up.