By Paul Jenkins, Matthew Daley, Carlos Magno and Chris Blythe
Paul Jenkins and Matthew Daley have created their own dystopian world in Lantern City out from Boom! Studios. The new series looks to set up a universe wherein something has created very distinct classes all living within Lantern City. When survival and protection are the most important aspects of day-to-day life, the rest grows increasingly dim. Jenkins and Daley spend much of the first issue catching readers up, but provide a solid lead character and some decent world building to make Lantern City #1 an intriguing start.
The Guard keep order in the lowest part of this great city behind the wall. Over the course of this first issue, readers learn that at some point there was a war and the wall was created to protect those from inside. Killian Grey, the leader of Lantern City, rules over the three-class system. Readers are introduced to Sander, the story’s protagonist, in an opening sequence that does a great job illustrating the arrangement that exists amongst the groups. Sander’s narration gives hints at the makeup of the society and the way things have been for a good while. Jenkins and Daley are building the foundations of a dystopia here and providing enough fuel to motivate the lead character to make waves.
As the first issue progresses, readers are witness to a number of scenes that exist in many of these types of books. Sander’s family is struggling to make ends meet, the rations are never enough, and any time of individuality is not to be tolerated. Hints of Fahrenheit 451, or even 1984 can be felt over the events of this first chapter. But Jenkins and Daley do more than simply retread the staples of the genre. Side characters, like Sander’s wife Karla, and pieces of the world building provide some uniqueness to the story. Issue one suffers a bit from its overuse of narration. While readers are in need of a good bit of background to understand the new universe being presented, there is a bit too many panels in the chapter filled with narrative exposition. Still, the tone in the book is impressive. While most of these books present a sincere sense of cause to rise up, Jenkins and Daley layer on the feeling of defeat that exists with these characters. The repeated line of “it could always be worse” echoes stronger as the story continues. The willingness to endure for the safety of his family creates a sense of heaviness to Sander’s story.
There is a good bit of design to the new world order that has been depicted in issue one. Artist Carlos Magno and colorist Chris Blythe illustrate a grand city that acts as the setting for the book. The dark and confined quarters appropriately are juxtaposed by the grandiosity of the city’s center. An interesting choice, the top class of the world is kept from readers in this first issue. But, Magno and Blythe deliver a compelling faceless militant figure in the garb of the soldiers. Still, Blythe’s color palette and finishes to the visuals in Lantern City fall a bit flat. Panels are often over saturated and many of the sequences feel as though they are glowing. The digital coloring takes away from the book a bit.
On the whole, Lantern City has some familiar elements with a solid amount of originality within. Jenkins and Daley have crafted a new universe that could lead to a great tale of uprising. Despite its bumps, the book has the potential to be a good series.