Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera (Illustrated by Steph C.) Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One of DC Comics best and most beloved characters of the past decade takes center stage in an original story that puts her in the midst of the immigration debate as she struggles with whether or not to stay in the United States and strange visions of Aztec gods in author Lilliam Rivera’s “Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story”.

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The Synopsis

Acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera and artist Steph C. reimagine one of DC’s greatest Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz, to tell a story about immigration, family, and overcoming fear to inspire hope.

Jessica Cruz has done everything right. She’s a dedicated student, popular among her classmates, and has a loving family that has done everything they can to give her a better life in the United States. While Jessica is a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing her to go to school and live in the U.S., her parents are undocumented. Jessica usually worries for her parents, but her fears and anxiety escalate as a mayoral candidate with a strong anti-immigration stance runs for office.

As the xenophobia in Coast City increases, Jessica begins to debate whether it’s worth renewing her status to stay in the U.S., or if her family would be safer and better off moving back to Mexico. And despite her attempts to lean on her friends and family, she finds herself constantly visited by visions of Aztec gods, one pulling her towards hope and the other towards anger.

But when her father is detained by I.C.E., Jessica finds herself being pulled into an abyss of fear. With her father gone and feeling helpless, Jessica must find her way out of her fears and ultimately become a voice for her community. 

The Review

What a powerful and engaging new take on the iconic Green Lantern character. This was a fantastic story that really captured the struggle and strength of the Latino community, especially when the debate over immigration has never been higher in recent years. Jessica Cruz is the perfect character to bring this fight for justice and equality to light, as her DC Comics history played into the battle between fear and hope that her character has embodied since her introduction. As a half-Latino man whose late grandfather came to this country as a young child and built a family of his own through dedication and hard work, the cultural element and the familial bonds that Jessica had not only with her parents but her community as a whole really spoke to me, as these core values are something I was taught at an early age.

The fantastic blend of DC Comics character mythology, history, and Aztec mythology was amazing to see come to life here. The visions that Jessica had really did a great job of highlighting the inner-struggle of her character between fear and hope, and seeing things like side character John Stewart come into play and her father’s lessons really made this story shine brightly. The artwork itself was so engaging, striking amazing contrasts between the light and darkness that Jessica struggled with and which settled over Coast City as immigration and politics took more and more of a prominent role in the community. The warmth that the artwork seemed to invoke really spoke to me and helped convey the message clearly.

The Verdict

A brilliant, heartfelt, and refreshing new take on a personal favorite and iconic DC Comics hero, author Lilliam Rivera and artist Steph C.’s “Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story”, is a must-read graphic novel and a contender or graphic novel of the year. DC Comics showcases a brilliant eye for talent as both the artist and the author did an incredible job of relaying a new take on some fan favorite characters and their history while also bringing an important topic and theme to life in a way that can highlight the issues without sacrificing entertainment and relatability. If you haven’t yet, grab your own copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning author of children’s books including her latest Never Look Back, a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in New York by Bloomsbury Publishing. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Elle, to name a few. Lilliam lives in Los Angeles.

https://www.lilliamrivera.com/

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About the Illustrator

Steph C. is a Mexican artist and illustrator mainly know for  her stylish characters that evoque a vibrant sensation within story and design whit a sense of geometry and sharp compositions. My goal is to inspire others through the power of creation!

https://thestephc.weebly.com/

https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/steph_c/

https://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/unearthed-a-jessica-cruz-story

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