Review Fix 2019 Comic Books Year in Review: Part One

Comic books have been one of the few places in 2019 that has openly and unapologetically discussed racism, oppression, the danger of artificial intelligence, demagogues and sometimes all in one series. From space ships called the Octavia Butler to the first black woman as a green lantern 2019 has been groundbreaking. Currently all these comics are monthly serials or will be restarting in 2020. 

‘Far Sector’ from DC Comics Young Animal

What may draw you in are the covers. Issue two has a bobble head of the first black green lantern, John Stewart. Probably a generation’s introduction to what it means to be a green lantern, imagine a set of people not knowing about Hal Jordan. The ‘Justice League’ animated series of the 2000’s showed a black man as part of a team of heroes. Now fast forward to 2019, Sojourner Mullein is the only green lantern in a far off sector, protecting a planet where its citizens have rid themselves of emotions. From the first issue there’s a murder, aliens who are either flirting with, wanting to eat or both to Sojourner. As a black woman who is a former New York City cop ‘Jo’ is specially trained to navigate a planet where emotions are something that has to be artificially switched off in order for them not to cannibalize each other. All except Jo who is human. Her ability to believe in herself and trust when to use the complexity of her emotions is an envious trait. For Jo there are dangers, well drawn ones. The artwork is exceptional as black characters are distinct in their rainbow complexions. Councillor Marth in his movements with Jo leap off the pages. The lines on his face, the rippling of movement shown on their bodies in a comic book seems improbable, but your eye follows and you feel the dancing, hear the music. With the story by N.K. Jemison, author of the award winning ‘Broken Earth’ trilogy and arts and color by Jamal Campbell each episodic issue is riddled with tension. You become easily invested in Jo, her search for a killer and a complicated potential love life.

Psi-Lords

The first seven issues of ‘Psi-Lords’ has a group of men and women sent on a mission to save the earth on their ship named the Octavia Butler. But they find themselves first imprisoned, killing someone upon breaking out, becoming fugitives, saved, finding out that their savior is the enemy. Then finding out that this great threat is really a tool for a bigger baddie. All through it Fred Van Lente writes gems of dialogue. The artwork of Renato Guedes is also exceptional and both narrative and art tell a compelling funny story dealing with sexual fluidity and if it’s truly worth the trouble of trying to be a demagogue. First appearing as a team in the mid 1990’s Valiant comic ‘Rai and the Future Force’ they finally have their own monthly serial. And it’s definitely worth the read. 

House of Whispers

Nalo Hopkinson and Dan Watters don’t play around, both drag you into the narrative of the DC Comics Black Label ‘House of Whispers’ and you won’t want to get out. Currently issue 16 is dealing with the goddess Erzulie’s divorce from her husbands and how they want full custody of the ship the House of Whispers that is now the third husband Agwe. In the previous story arc Erzulie lost nearly everything and now as she struggles to regain her followers and deal with her ex-husbands, she must also figure out what has happened to the twin house. The seamless use of African folklore, real life issues such as domestic violence and child abuse makes you believe that gods walk among us and that they can look like a full-curvy bodied Erzulie. The cover of the current issue has Erzulie holding a mirror, staring directly at whomever happens upon her. She’s beautiful as is the artwork from Dominike Stanton and Zac Atkinson. You must continue to have this comic in your life. 

About Donna-Lyn Washington 632 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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