- Writers: Paul Jenkins, Matthew Daley, Mairghread Scott
- Artist: Carlos Mango
- Colorist: Chris Blythe
- Letters: Deron Bennett
- Cover Art: Dave Dorman
- Publisher: Archaia/Boom Studios
- Release Date: March 30th, 2016
Lantern City Volume One by Archaia Entertainment collects the first four issues of Steampunk themed maxi-series about a man who must become that which he hates to save the lives of his family. It is Archaia Entertainment’s first foray into a single issue comic book series since the publisher was acquired by Boom! Studios in 2013. The architects behind Lantern City are Trevor Crafts and Bruce Boxleitner of Macrocosm who published the prequel novel Rise and have a Lantern City TV series in development.
The story’s central character, Sander Jorve, is a member of the Worker Class who toils in the yellowberry fields below Lantern City. Sander works to provide food rations for his wife Karla and young son Rennie. The Workers are protected by the brutal Guard Class who work the machinery that powers the Lantern City and maintain order among the Workers. Their eyes and ears are everywhere, so should one of the Worker Class step out of line, all suffer. The Workers are taught as children that the actions of the one are the actions of all. The Guards, who are not much better off than the Workers, serve the Greys who are the ruling class of Lantern City. The Grey keep the walls surrounding Lantern City strong to protect its inhabitants from outside invaders and the surrounding desolation.
“Greys provide, so we survive. Guards protect so we may serve.”
Sander decides to attend a political rally held at The Cathedral by a peaceful resistance group called The Order which is led by his charismatic brother-in-law Kendal. The rally is raided by The Guards who being slaughtering people in the crowd. Kendal and Sander are accused of being insurrectionists by Airborne Class Guard Captain Orin. Kendal kills Orin and takes the Guards uniform before he is noticed among the missing. Both Sander’s wife Karla and Kendal convince him to don the uniform to infiltrate The Guard and protect The Movement. Sander’s son Rennie must believe his father is dead so that his undercover work succeeds.
The Creative Team
Matthew Daily writes all four chapters collect in the trade. He is assisted by writers Paul Jenkins who worked on Deathmatch for Boom! Studios and Mairghread Scott who worked on Swords of Sorrow for Dynamite Entertainment.
Had I not read the credits for each chapter I would have never noticed the writing was a collaboration. The writers work together seamlessly with nary a bump or glitch in the continuity of the story telling or the voice of the characters.
The interior illustrations are provided by the talented team of Brazilian artist Carlos Mango and colorist Chris Blythe. Carlos Mango is fast becoming one of my favorite artists. He provided the detailed art for Boom! Studios Planet of the Apes and Deathmatch series. Mango draws human anatomy with finesse and machinery designs with imagination. Nothing is more disappointing to me as a reader when an artist cannot draw anatomically correct humans or I am unable distinguish one character from another by their face. It takes a lot of artistic talent to make each of the charters have their own unique look.
Colorist Chris Blythe’s has worked on 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd. His coloring style adds just the right amount of somberness to the denizens and buildings of Lantern City, yet it really helps the line art pop off the page giving it a three-dimensional weight.
Lantern City can be described as a Neo-Victorian Steampunk science-fiction story set in a dystopian world. The steam punk elements are not those typically found in the genre such as gears, glasses and corsets. It is far more subtle here and it works. The Airship and Guard costume designs look fresh yet classic. I have not been so impressed since Star Wars introduced the Imperial Troopers and battleships. There is nothing about the outfits that look like a carbon copy of someone’s work.
The story goes deep into its characters and societal themes. At its core it a story about man’s love for his family and how far he is willing go to protect them. Sander always accepted that things could be worse but realizes by doing nothing he jeopardizes his family. Things will never change for the better in Lantern City unless he makes them change.
Lantern City Volume One is a fresh take on a dystopian science-fiction story with complex characters that address the flaws of class based society. The original concepts and unexpected plots twists of will leave both Steampunk enthusiasts and comic books readers highly satisfied.
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