James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > Post

In Brightest Day

Far Sector

By N. K. Jemisin & Jamal Campbell 

8 Oct, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

N. K. Jemisin’s Far Sector is a stand-alone limited-run comic book series set in the DC comic universe. Illustrations are by Jamal Campbell. The original run was from 2019 – 2020. The collection came out as a book in 2021

Sojourner Jo” Mullein is a newly minted Green Lantern, armed by a Guardian of Oa with an innovative version of the famous Green Lantern ring [1]. She has been an interstellar cop for the last half year. So far, not a busy cop; she’s been assigned to a beat in a distant community, one famous for having no violent crime. 

The vast space structure known as the City Enduring is home to twenty billion people from three species: the nigh-human Nah, the AI @at (pronounced at-at”), and the carnivorous vegetable keh-Topli. Maintaining the peace between cultures is challenging enough. Maintaining it between species more so. Past failures left two worlds in ruins. For the past five centuries, the city government has mandated that every one of its emotionally volatile citizens install an emotional damper known as the Emotion Exploit.

The system performs flawlessly, which raises this question: why, in a city without homicide, is Jo looking at the half-eaten corpse of a murder victim?


Local law enforcement hasn’t had to deal with murder in centuries; it’s short on homicide skills. Jo, on the other hand, is from Earth’s United States of America, where murder is endemic (so much so that it frequently features in popular entertainment). Not only that … on Earth she was an actual cop. She never handled a murder on Earth, but all the same, she is better suited to working a homicide than any other person in the city. 

It is certainly very convenient for the City Enduring that they invited a Green Lantern from a murder world to visit shortly before their centuries-long murder drought ended. More on that later.

Some facts are easy to determine. For example, the dead person is a Nah named Stevn of the Glacier, By the Wavering Dark. The entity that partially ate Stevn is a keh-Topli named Meile Thorn. While keh-Topli regard Nah as delectable, they refrain from eating anyone who does not consent to being consumed, which makes Meile’s act a shocking breach of etiquette. 

Who and how is known. This leaves why . Meile will never answer that question, because they are almost immediately murdered … while in police custody. Jo spots the assassin fleeing but is unable to catch them. 

A simple murder could be an insignificant, momentary loss of self-control. Murder followed by the assassination of the killer before they could be questioned suggests conspiracy. Unraveling conspiracies is a bit above Jo’s paygrade, but Jo is still the most qualified person the City Enduring has available.

As we all know, correlation doesn’t prove causality, but it’s notable that the city’s first murder happened during its first major political crisis in ages. Switchoff, a drug that turns off the emotional dampers, is sweeping the city. Switchoff is illegal. Many citizens feel that it should not be. Others feel that the drug is a threat to social stability. Social discord follows.

Jo learns that it is no coincidence at all that the city requested a Green Lantern shortly before the murder. The council did not foresee exactly what would happen, but they suspected something would occur. Thus the importation of a space cop. What Jo doesn’t yet know is the full extent of the purposes for which she is needed.

~oOo~

In the City Enduring’s defense, its citizens are pretty shouty even when their emotions are being suppressed. We get enough glimpses of uninhibited people that it is clear why the Emotion Exploit was deemed necessary. That said, the government imposed the Exploit without significant citizen input. The government has pretensions to democracy, yes, but the ruling council appears to believe this means informing the masses what the masses should be sensible enough to request from their government. The council’s first impulse, when faced with agitation for reforms of which the council disapproves, is to make voting harder. I cannot imagine what real world model the author might have had in mind. 

Readers unfamiliar with the DC comics setting may be surprised that all of the aliens, even the software ones, look very human. That’s just the way it works in this setting. Carcinisation-like convergent evolution (or possibly the intervention of godlike entities) produces humanoids all across the universe. 

I am calling the Green Lanterns cops, but that may be the wrong word. Green Lanterns are powerful and charged with serving the general good. The legal frameworks to which one hopes cops are subjected seems to be absent, save for the occasional intervention of alarmed Guardians of Oa. Moral outrage trumps rule of law. This comic is all for moral outrage and dismissive of the local laws, which are indeed awful. They allow such means of crowd control as mass executions. 

This is not to say that setting up Green Lanterns as powerful enforcers subject to no meaningful rules is such a great idea either. The Guardians of Oa have a track record that is, to put it mildly, not so great when it comes to recruiting trustworthy Lanterns. Lucky for the Enduring City that Jo is trustworthy. 

A caveat: Jo’s background as a disillusioned soldier and disillusioned, disgraced [2] cop provides her with a useful skillset but also serious cognitive biases. In particular, she thinks of the ring as a weapon, not a tool. However, unlike her hosts, she does not then assume that the correct solution to every problem is the application of sufficient force to compel people to stop complaining because they are too dead to express their displeasure. 

This is a perfectly serviceable science fiction police procedural, whose flaws are ones inherent in the setting. It’s just my bad luck I am not at present in the mood for police procedurals. Your tastes might differ. 

Far Sector is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Book Depository), and here (Chapters-Indigo).

1: The rings can create objects out of solid green light, limited only by the character’s imagination and will-power. The rings also provide flight, life support, force fields, a universal translator, and other useful services. 

Jo’s ring is unusual in that it does not need an external power source to recharge, which means she does not have to worry about stuff like this:


Jo’s ring is not as powerful as regular Green Lantern rings. It is not clear if it has the usual inability to affect yellow objects. The Guardians of Oa almost certainly have some sort of kill-switch on the ring, in part because they are officious little twerps and in part because as previously stated, they have a dismal track record for selecting trustworthy candidates. A surprising number of universe-threatening organizations were originally founded by Guardians. 

2: Punted from the police force for cooperating with an investigation of police brutality, although the force found a different pretext to fire her.