Ever since the first issue hit shelves, writer N.K. Jemisin and artist Jamal Campbell’s Far Sector has been a consistently brilliant and thoughtful read for each and every chapter. With this 10th issue, the steadily building political subplot that has been cleverly intertwined with Mullein’s murder investigation emerges into the forefront with explosive force, in a manner that is (like every issue thus far) disturbingly relevant to our current political situation. With another hyper-intelligent script and more staggering visual work, this may be the most exciting issue of this outstanding series yet.
“Since arriving at the City Enduring, Sojourner “Jo” Mullein has confronted an insidious conspiracy of murder and mayhem, but even this most resilient Green Lantern reaches her breaking point when she uncovers an “emotional sweatshop” producing black-market feelings for a world without them. But Jo is only too human…”
Writing & Plot
N.K. Jemisin has been taking her skills as an accomplished novelist and adapting to the comic medium with a natural ease many pros ought to be envious of. Each issue of Far Sector has been packed to the brim with discoveries, revelations, backstory, and random events both big and small that end up becoming major pieces of the plot. Far Sector #10 feels like the culmination of all these issues of work, with massive payoffs by way of a well-earned plot twist that honestly blew my damn mind. In terms of setting, this may be the most focused issue in the series thus far, as the entire comic takes place in only a couple of rooms in a police station. As a matter of fact, almost all of the dialogue is presented as sort of expository dialogue, with characters explaining their positions and discussing their discoveries they’ve made up to this point. One of the elements that makes Jemisin’s writing so impressive is that every line of dialogue and narrative packs a massive amount of weight to both the characters and the story at large. Every piece of discussion is vitally important here, and Jemisin deliberately keeps the focus small and cut off from the rest of the world so that when the issue’s big climax hits, it literally blindsides both the characters and the reader. Jemisin has also weaved a clever commentary on internet culture into this story that becomes disturbingly relevant and ominous in this chapter. I’ve been a bit critical of her use of internet memes as a plot device up to this point, but seeing how she uses them here absolves those issues. Now as far as the relevance of the big plot twist to our current political era, it’s actually a bit frightening how spot-on Jemisin’s appraisal of our political situation was in her take on the City Enduring. I can’t discuss it obviously because it’s a major spoiler, but I’ll just say that the discussion of the political events leading up the the major twist at the end of this book is topical to the point of prophecy. This is a masterfully written comic, and a stellar piece of science-fiction writing.
I can never have enough praise for Jamal Campbell’s art, but I honestly feel that his work here on Far Sector #10 may be his best yet. Instead of the sprawling vistas of a giant alien city, the scenery in this chapter is of almost nothing but the low blue lights and sterile whites of a police station interrogation room. What makes the visuals here so special however are the express attention paid to the characters’ facial animations. Now Campbell has knocked this element out of the park on every issue of Far Sector, it’s just doubly important this time around because of the story’s focus on character interactions and studying the emotions and reactions of every person in the room. The direction as well isn’t anything we haven’t seen before in terms of framing and panel construction, it’s just handled with such an expert level of finesse that it disappears into the story, and that’s the exact intention here. Both Campbell’s absurdly smooth penciling and his vibrant digital colors are put through a wringer of subtlety in this issue more than the usual grand sci-fi visuals and intense fight scenes, and he sticks the landing in a way that is unsurprising given his talents while still an incredible sight to behold. The lettering from Deron Bennett is once again solid and easily readable, reflecting the visual direction in how it expertly stays out of the way of the story’s seamlessness. Overall, this is another brilliantly drawn and constructed comic from some of the best creators in the business right now.
Far Sector #10 is the culmination of all of this comic’s careful planning thus far. Jemisin’s script is a string of intricate and vitally important conversations and narrative, delivered with tight pacing that swings a hefty right hook when it comes to the final page twist. Her use of internet culture collides with a searing indictment of our contemporary politics and late-era capitalist gig-economy. Jamal Campbell’s visual work is a series of focused character animations that perfectly frame the emotional journeys each character goes through in this chapter. This may be the best issue of Far Sector thus far, so be sure to grab a copy when it hits shelves on 2/2!