There is nothing wrong with enjoying superhero comics. Without those brave women and men in capes, comics would never have risen to the level of popularity or literary legitimacy they enjoy today. Superhero comics allowed writers to be storytellers and world builders, and the medium is now so attractive that almost anyone looking for a good tale to sink their teeth into can find something of interest in “the funny pages.”
This evolution has brought readers some very mature tales, from the stories of Zap Comix to Maus, The Crow and hundreds, if not thousands of others in between and since. Lantern City – which released its second issue this week – is right at home in this group. And with its second issue, the series may be heading towards its mark on history.
To be clear, Lantern City isn’t quite another Maus, nor is it something that will necessarily change your life. It is, however, a smart, serious story that will make readers consider just how far they would be willing to go for a cause that could change the world. Would you be willing to fight? How about lie? Would you, could you leave your family behind? If it meant freedom for those around you – would you be willing to die?
Lantern City‘s first issue introduced readers a futuristic city where George Orwell’s 1984 would be a feel-good history lesson. As the oppressed classes make their stand, Sander – a man who wants nothing more than to simply provide the best life possible for his family – is forced into the fight by an unexpected opportunity.
Lantern City #2 picks up right where the events of the first left off, as Sander makes the decision to pursue this avenue in the hope it’ll help those around him. After all, can a real hero ever say “no” to those in need? As Sander makes his way through Lantern City, artist Carlos Magno deftly illustrates just how huge and expansive the city is, and Chris Blythe’s colors truly capture the atmosphere and darkness within this environment. Very quickly Sander finds himself in situations that force him to rely solely on his intuition, but if his intuition is wrong, well… let’s just say that people die quite often in this city.
Matthew Daley tells the story as if it was personal, and there isn’t a single moment in which Lantern City feels as if he’s trying to find his way or stumble through character development at the expense of plot, or vice versa. Instead, the book is just as complete and fleshed out a story as any Batman comic you’ve read before. In other words, while being a brand new property, Lantern City not only feels like a complete world but also, somehow, the world seems familiar – which may be the scariest thing about the city.
If you haven’t had a chance to discover the gritty darkness of Lantern City, now is the time to get on board. I have a feeling that soon, an unwilling hero will arise.