In many ways, Far Sector is one of the easier books to write about. When the writer is MacArthur Fellow N. K. Jemisin, you’re gonna get something that’s at least interesting, but with Jamal Campbell on art it’s basically an assurance of greatness. At every turn, it continues to be a thoughtful and beautiful exploration of what protecting a community really looks like, and how that looks on large and small scales.
This issue delves into what feel like distant ideas, but of course are intricately linked, with slavery and democratic republics. The issue digs into these topics the way the series has done so with other ideas like police brutality, and protests: by not being preachy in any way, instead telling a story where the ideas are directly evident.
For me, that’s the real strength and power of Far Sector: it uses its fictional setting to tell stories that are easy to relate to, especially in 2020, and it does so in a way that explains the issues. What I really love is that it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel like homework, and doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Even the very basic concept of Green Lanterns being space cops is something that the series continues to play with and reference but isn’t made the whole point of the thing. It’s talked about and confronted , but the story is able to not just be about those ideas, and the plot is entertaining even without the commentary. Of course, the commentary works, and frames the series in a big way, but I don’t think the main plot and investigation relies on it.
Those ideas are great as words, but Jamal Campbell does great work bringing them to life. This issue gave him the opportunity to really show off how great he is at drawing facial expressions, with a little under half of the issue being a conversation in a diner. He makes it energetic without being confusing, and doesn’t over complicate everything, even with pages upwards of six panels each. His layouts are always interesting, with one page late in the issue being a standout in how to show action that feels kinetic with only a few panels.
Above that, though, Jo just always looks so cool. If there’s staying power with her as a character, it will have much to do with the story, but I think in a visual medium like comics design goes a long way.
I mentioned this in my review of the last issue, but the only real weakness of this series is the two-month gap between issues. There are many reasons for books to ship irregularly like this, but it is a long wait, and it’s hard to keep track of everything the book is doing in between issues. If there’s anything really wrong with this issue, I’d say that it could have better utilized its recap page to actually address the pertinent plot points. I typically understand arguments against this, but with such a long wait between relatively short chapters, I think it would help the book overall.
Even then, though, Far Sector is a comic I enjoy immensely. I can enjoy having it for a few extra months.
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