The mantle of the Green Lantern has been shining a light into the darkness since DC Comics was still known as National. Created by Martin Nodell and introduced in All-American Comics #16 back in July 1940, a railroad engineer named Alan Scott took up the Green Lantern name along with a magic lantern and a superpowered ring to bring justice to Golden Age New York.
Nearly two decades after his debut, editor Julius Schwartz oversaw writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane in the creation of a different iteration of the hero, Hal Jordan. The story of a test pilot who was given the ring by a dying alien shifted our understanding of the crusader known as the Green Lantern and those who wield the cosmic force of the Power Ring. Since then, many heroes have taken on the mantle including Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. But perhaps none have truly shaken up the status quo of the Green Lantern quite like Hal Jordan.
That is, until Jo Mullein.
Sojourner “Jo” Mullein’s impact is not defined by the fact that she’s the first Black, queer woman to ever hold the mantle of Green Lantern. Or by the fact that N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell and Deron Bennett are one of the first all-Black creative teams to helm a Green Lantern title. Those are huge factors in just what makes the book special, of course, but what truly makes Far Sector and its hero feel so groundbreaking is the imaginative exploration of what it means to be a Green Lantern and the innate understanding of how that very imagination is at the core of what makes the hero great. Where some Green Lantern stories feel stymied by a lack of the thing that gives the Power Ring its magic, Far Sector pulses with imagination on every page.
The nature and power of imagination is built into the story on every level. From the unique mystery at its core, to Campbell’s inventive art, to in-story details like a planet that’s sky is brought to life with the imagination of its inhabitants, Far Sector is a series that is well aware of how vital this part of Lantern lore is and the creative team weave it into every single page.
If you haven’t yet read (or even heard of) Far Sector, it follows Jo—a rookie, experimental Green Lantern—who’s been assigned to the distant City Enduring. The expansive high-tech planet has had emotion removed from all of its citizens and hasn’t seen a murder for half a millennia. However with violent crime suddenly on the rise, it’s Jo who’s tasked with uncovering the truth behind it. And despite being a newbie, she’s perfectly suited to the task.
Jo is the beating human heart at the center of the sprawling and strange world the creative team has crafted. A reluctant hero, ex-NYPD officer and military vet, she comes from our Earth—one where murders are a regular occurrence at the hands of civilians and officers alike. It’s a much different environment than the living technicolor explosion she finds herself protecting in the City Enduring.
This is no simple fish out of water story, though. Instead, Jo is exactly the hero that her new home needs. Her own experiences, trauma and beliefs shape her into the right woman arriving at the right moment. When a protest impacts the day-to-day business of the City Enduring, the city’s law enforcers are ready to shoot on sight. But Jo’s own previous life means she knows what the police killing the people they are meant to serve means for a society. She uses her Lantern powers to protect the protestors, creating a shield to safeguard rather than a weapon to attack.
Those powers and their infinite possibilities are one of the things that make Green Lantern such an exciting hero. But often we only see their emerald constructs shaped into a fist or hammer. Far Sector is different. Here, Jo uses them to recreate crime scenes—to protect, to fly, to create entirely new things like robotics, beasts and creatures. This is true imagination put to the page. So, ironically, even though her ring might be “less powerful” as it’s not charged by the Power Battery, Jo is one of the most inventive and effective Lanterns that we’ve ever seen. She literally creates…a MECH!!!
Of course, this isn’t to say that Jo is perfect. She’s pretty far from it, actually. She’s deeply flawed, makes plenty of mistakes and is often quick to anger, but she holds her heroic ideals firmly and like the best Lanterns, refuses to quit. Facing frequently insurmountable odds and armed with a ring that can be less dependable than standard Green Lantern rings, Jo is clearly of the belief that as long as she’s still breathing, she still can make the difference in any fight. It’s a good thing, too. In a city where people no longer remember how to feel, that sort of strength and sacrifice is all but essential in motivating others to act.
It’s also worth mentioning that the secret of what makes Jo’s ring so special is a masterclass in emotive cyberpunk storytelling. Basically, think about everything you know about the Power Ring and invert it. This is a power driven by acceptance and personal resolution rather than denial of fear itself. Even in its narrative function, the ring becomes more imaginative and complex than ever.
Of course, without Campbell (who previously helped introduce another charismatic Black superhero to the DC Universe with 2019’s Naomi) and Bennett we’d have no idea just how unique this world, Jo and her powers look. Campbell has created something here that feels transgressive—an immersive science fiction world which is unlike any we’ve seen in Green Lantern lore. Combined with Jemisin’s award-winning fiction, Campbell’s art makes the City Enduring feel real and scary and beautiful and imaginative. Bennett’s letters feel so completely a part of the universe that you can literally hear Jo saying the words as you read the green heads up display style captions. It’s the kind of creative coherence that’s key to making readers feel at home on a planet that is so unlike our own.
In Far Sector, not only do we explore a society we do not recognize, but we have to unfurl a murder mystery which opens up like a blossoming flower before winding in some truly unanticipated directions as we follow Jo through the pages. Jemisin, Campbell and Bennett make it an adventure that always feels imaginative and unexpected. Like the best sci-fi, it’s both a much-needed escape and a timely parable.
Far Sector #12, the final issue of the miniseries, is now available in shops and as a digital comic book. Look for the Far Sector collected edition in stores this October!
Rosie Knight writes about comics, movies and TV for DCComics.com, Nerdist, IGN and Den of Geek.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Rosie Knight and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.