Review - Lantern City #1

"All I'm trying to do is live."

When a ruling class imposes their will on lesser classes, there's going to be some resentment. How the lower classes handle makes for interesting interactions, but more often than not those interactions involve lots of violence and fighting. Both of those are on full display in Lantern City #1 from Archaia. The issue is written by Paul Jenkins and Matthew Daly, illustrated by Carlos Magno, colored by Chris Blythe and lettered by Deron Bennett.

Sander Jorve just wants to keep his wife and son safe. Living in the brutalized lower class of Lantern City means living in near constant darkness, the enormous walls of the city always looming overhead, while the upper class enjoys the elevated, interconnected towers and airships above. When Sander’s brother-in-law, the persuasive activist Kendal, convinces him to infiltrate the brutal ranks of the Guard, he’s set on a dangerous path that will test his abilities and beliefs, all in the name of making a difference for his family and his caste.

Shades of rebellion run rampant throughout Lantern City #1 and serves as the backdrop for presumably the entire series. Jenkins and Daly place Sander in an interesting position, in that he's forced to become a Guard--the thing he detests most in all of Lantern City that represents an oppressive regime. Much of the issue is spent introducing the reader to Sander's plight and the current state of the city in a way that effectively lays the groundwork for Sander's "transformation." What will be fascinating (and harkens to the Stanford prison study) is whether or not Sander will adapt his personality and mindset to that of a guard at the expense of his roots in the underbelly of Lantern City. This aspect is presumably where Jenkins and Daly will likely take Sander in terms of a character arc.

A large majority of the illustrations in Lantern City #1 focus on the anger in Lantern City and it's something that Magno captures fairly well. Sander's family is clearly down on their luck and struggling to make ends meet, demonstrating their woes through a variety of sullen expressions. Pain is an expression illustrated quite vividly by Magno, which further embellishes the sentiment that Lantern City is a bomb waiting to explode. Blythe's colors further this portrayal of the city, as it's awash in blues and oranges largely symbolic of fires burning at night. There are a few panels dedicated to showing the reader what Lantern City looks like overall, but more shots would have been welcomed in helping to create even more context for the book's events.

Lantern City #1 tackles issues such as civil obedience and a ruling class, both of which rarely mix together in a way that works out for either side. By the end of the issue, it's clear that Sander and his ilk have a plan for possibly striking a blow against the soldiers in charge, even if it means risking the safety of his family and friends. Jenkins and Daly craft a story that moves pretty quickly and gets from laying the groundwork for underclass dissent to revolution fairly quickly. Magno's illustrations are capable of conveying the unrest simmering in the city, showing off a variety of characters who all tend toward wearing outrage quite readily. Lantern City #1 starts off with a pretty recognizable concept and offers a slight twist on combating it, including a man becoming the thing he hates most.

Lantern City #1 is in stores now with interiors below.