Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story is DC’s latest reimagining of a fan-favorite superhero character, this time bringing a new origin story to Green Lantern’s Jessica Cruz. Written by Lilliam Rivera with art by illustrator Steph C., Unearthed tells the story of an immigrant facing the challenges of being a DACA recipient and child of undocumented immigrants in a city run by xenophobic politicians.
Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story is a Brilliant Reintroduction to a Green Lantern Favorite
Jessica deals with a lot of difficult situations throughout the graphic novel that reflects on her emotional state. She’s a junior in high school in the middle of planning her future, which should be an exciting time for her, but the joy is cut short when her father is taken by ICE. Before that she was already feeling conflicted about renewing her DACA paperwork, fearing the increased politically motivated hatred for immigrants.
Jessica is also interning at the local museum in Coast City, which is where she comes into contact with the Aztec Gods exhibit which eventually finds its way into her dreams. These gods end up representing her inner conflict, as the two that appear to her represent peace and wisdom, while the other represents righteous rage. Based on the illustration and color choices during these scenes, I am willing to guess that the Aztec gods will have an influence on Jessica becoming part of the Green Lantern Corp in the next installment. She even has a ring that she wears and also hangs on a chain around her neck at times.
Unearthed touches on so many topical issues, from far-right politics and Trump-esq politicians to hard-working immigrants being hauled off by ICE agents. These are the kind of superhero stories we need more of today, because the forces being fought are recognizable and real. Through all of these outside forces, the heart of the story is Jessica’s coming-of-age story as she discovers what matters to her.
While Unearthed features a very different origin story for Jessica Cruz, it feels very true to who she is and who she will become as the story progresses. She still has a lot of growing and self-exploration to do, but I can see the trajectory of her future hinted at throughout the graphic novel. The gorgeously designed artwork by Steph C. paints a vivid world around Jessica, but the most stunning stuff emerges during her otherworldly encounters with the Aztec gods.
Lilliam Rivera’s storytelling draws a full picture of who Jessica is, in the span of a hundred pages she feels like a fully realized character, one that you could bump into at the local museum. Her struggles, inner conflicts, and her drive to do the right thing will resonate with readers who seek themselves in her.
Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story is out now.