Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #74 by Drew Barth
Return to the City Enduring
Things are getting back to normal—for comic publishing. Series are coming out once again and the month’s schedules are filling out with series returns and delayed beginnings.
But things aren’t normal, not anymore. Every day we have to contend with who we are as a nation and who we are as readers. We make a choice with how we speak and how we act and whose voices we can uplift with whatever platform we have available. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to return to N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell’s Far Sector. I wrote about the first issue seven months, or twenty years, ago and I didn’t know what kind of impact the story would have now.
Jemisin herself is already one of the most important writers of the 21stcentury. Other works, like the recently released The City We Became, deal with the survival of a massive city in much in the same way Far Sector does. But here in the comics things are slightly different. The recently appointed Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein must investigate the City Enduring and its first murder in five hundred years. This city has maintained its facade of peace for so long due to a genetic modification that has suppressed the emotions of every citizen—at least until the drug Switchoff allows them to turn that modification off completely. And this leads to the murder. And this murder leads to a protest. And this protest leads to an egregious display of murderous police force against the protesters.
The issue the above page come from released in late February and feels prophetic. Jemisin is able to recognize what has happened in the past and how it will inevitably come to our future. As a moment in the story, it’s devastating, but not surprising—much like the militarized police we see on the news nearly every evening and their own show of force. But in Far Sector, we have a mediator—we have someone with the power to stand up and the power ring up back them up. These moments are what good comics do best—they’re a mirror to the world’s horrors with a tangible, individual light of hope that we believe can save the day.
Far Sector is the kind of comic that we need right now and Jemisin and Campbell are the creators we need on that comic. Comics have always been political, but mainstream monthly comics have a problem with inclusivity. More than ever, we need BIPOC voices and BIPOC stories, we need BIPOC editors and publishers to bring these stories and creators into our comic shops and our lives. Comics as a medium have the potential to reach a massive audience and so it must have voices that reflect that audience. And comics need to reflect the world they exist in, they’re not in a vacuum and neither is this column. It’s why now is the time to donate—time, money, energy—to the organizations that need it the most. Comics are a community that needs to remember that Black Lives Matter and that we must do our part.
Get angry. Get involved. Get active. Get reading.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.