At first glance, the most striking thing about Far Sector #1 is the artwork. That’s usually true of comic books, but it’s especially true of Jamal Campbell’s work on the cover and first few pages of this book. The design is bold and futuristic, refreshing for the Green Lanterns franchise and rooted in the changes made in the past few years. Campbell dresses Lantern Mullein in angular and appealing blocks of green, black, and white, and there are echoes of a military uniform in the shoulders and chest panel. Coupled with oversized green glasses and (in the early pages) a ring-generated cape, it blends futuristic and traditional elements into something that feels totally fresh for a Green Lantern but sits comfortably with other speculative fiction work.
The whole issue is a visual joy, with interesting alien designs and a spectacular cityscape to take in. Every page is packed with gorgeous detail—and even when some get a little crowded with text, it flows well from page to page. There’s one moment where the choice of how to portray Mullein’s off-panel dialogue is a little confusing—too similar to her internal monologue—but otherwise letterer Deron Bennett does good work accommodating both Campbell’s stunning art and writer N.K. Jemisin’s sometimes wordy script.
Jemisin is rightfully known for her skill with world-building and creating new cultural groups, and fans of her multiple Hugo-award winning Broken Earth trilogy will see a lot of that same talent on display in Far Sector. Mullein has been assigned to the City Enduring, which is so far beyond the normal reach of the Lantern Corps that it may as well not be on the map. It’s on this far-flung outpost that Mullein is confronted with a level of violence that hasn’t been seen in the City Enduring in ages; she’s been tasked with not only uncovering the mysterious reasons for the violence, but also dealing with the fallout.
There are a lot of familiar things about Far Sector, but it begins busting out of stereotypical tropes from the very first pages. It starts as a noir murder mystery in a futuristic setting—a satisfying combination of pulp detective stories and idealized science fiction, the latter so often a universe where money and violence are supposedly no longer an issue. Comparisons to Blade Runner are tempting, but Far Sector is very people-focused, feeling more like Steven Universe meets Star Trek: Mullein’s character design and the bright, colorful pages are in the same vein as the cartoon, and the tensions between the theoretically peaceful and emotionless occupants of the City Enduring have a lot in common with some of Roddenberry’s most famous alien creations. If Star Trek: Discovery’s Garnet and Michael Burnham had a joint successor, it certainly could look and sound a lot like Mullein.
Though the story belongs to no single genre, it balances all of the tropes with relative ease—and more grace than a lot of comics from traditional prose writers trying to make that tough transition. What pushes Far Sector past a good cape-and-cowl comic, and helps it transcend into something new and compelling, is that Jemisin doesn’t shy away from including nods to the real world. Far Sector includes references to code switching and the use of slurs; even in a galaxy far, far away, their purpose is clear. At one point, Mullein shows up to a meeting with important dignitaries and has to use the ring to create her own seat, echoing the famous Shirley Chisholm line. Jemisin sets her intentions clearly and early, opening with a Chinua Achebe quote. Far Sector is a genre-defying comic with a commanding story to tell, and following Jemisin and Campbell down that path is going to be a wonderful ride.