Review: Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story

"Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story"
Writer: Lilliam Rivera
Artist: Steph C.
Review by Fay Clark

Fantastic Universes has been lucky enough to get an early reader's copy of Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story. I already love the character and have also super enjoyed most of the YA graphic novels DC has been putting out, so I jumped at the chance to review this one!

Finally a relatable teenager!

There's just something about the character of Jessica Cruz that is so relatable. I don't know whether it's the AMAZING mental health representation, or the AWESOME Mexican and Honduran representation, or even just the BADASSNESS of an independent woman. There's so much going on with this character, and writer Lilliam Rivera really has stepped up and shown us every facet of Jessica's personality!

This is definitely not a normal Green Lantern origin story, but it's the genesis of Jessica Cruz. The book uncovers more about her background and all the struggles she's faced. I loved the depiction of familial ties; her parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, even people around the way. "It takes a village" is something you can see clearly in the neighborhood that Jessica lives in. Such a close-knit community, where all are struggling with similar problems. It's a wonderful thing to see them take care of each other and support the people who need it.

Lilliam Rivera has a lot of plotlines going throughout Unearthed, but the main two I think that need to be focused on are Jessica's mental health and the immigration plotlines. Both were instrumental to the overall story and Jessica's main character traits. Both were written beautifully and subtly. Mental health has always been a struggle for Jessica, but in Unearthed we get to see how things really play out in her head. Lilliam uses Myan Mythology as a depiction of the clashing emotions Jessica's dealing with. I loved that detail.

Lights that tell you your emotions

Steph C. absolutely smashed the artwork and I love everything about the visuals in Unearthed. The subtle color/hue changes that match Jessica's emotions are absolutely awesome. I noticed them about halfway through the graphic novel and then had to go back to check if I was right.

When Jessica's feeling more overwhelmed than usual, you can see the color in the panels has a yellow tinge to it. When she's feeling more confident and powerful the panels have a green hue to them. This is a great nod to the Lantern Corps colors and what they represent. Although I don't come from the same culture as our hero, I can see that Steph C. was trying to represent all skin tones and hues in Jessica's family gathering. I thought that was a brilliant touch.

Conclusion

If you want to get to know Jessica Cruz, I would 100% tell you to start with Unearthed. Although not her comics' canon origin story, it lets you get to know her character and background from before she became a Green Lantern. Lilliam Rivera's an amazing writer and clearly knows her stuff. It's very hard to approach hard topics with grace and empathy.

Artist, Steph C. is an absolute legend. I will definitely be looking out for more of her work in the future, she pulled everything together and made the book look immaculate.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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