The Story: Nothing as hardcore as that cover. Relic asks some questions and Kyle…draws the history of the universe.

The Review: This issue is the first time we get a real sense of Relic, the latest big bad for the Green Lantern Corps. There’s obviously much more to see, but my early opinion is that this guy is Volthoom done right.

Our villain approaches his awakening with an excellent balance of scientific calculation and childlike wonder. That sense of unimaginable alien genius and relatively narrow focus on the emotional spectrum help him feel distinct from other cosmic villains like Thanos or Starro. Relic remains a mystery, but watching him unfold is certainly interesting.

As for Kyle, his story is somewhat predictable, but Jordan manages to write it with enough charm and sincerity to make it stand out from the pack. The scenes of Kyle drawing gave the comic an immediate glow that tells me that Jordan relates to his lead and understands the core goodness of Kyle Rayner.

The writing throughout is solid and the plot comes together nicely, but, while those few moments make it clear that Jordan has the talent to do great things, it feels like he’s too conservative in his writing to show it yet. The ‘new-guardians’ help move this story along, but, though a bit of clever narration makes them feel briefly important, they aren’t contributing nearly enough and, likewise, I’m a little disappointed in Kyle.

Last time we had a White Lantern he went head to head with Nekron, but Kyle still feels like he’s still coasting on his “torch-bearer” celebrity. The point is that, while Relic is clearly a threat to even the White Lantern, it hasn’t yet felt like Kyle is the most powerful lantern, or even Hal’s equal. Without a stronger sense of Kyle’s role in the modern DCU, this title can’t live up to its potential.

Brad Walker’s pencils are definitely in the current house style, but his consistency despite changing angles, tones, and subjects all lead me to believe that he’s got something great that’s just waiting to come out. His work with expressions is notable this issue, particularly in the case of Relic, who’s a veritable blank slate. This extends to Kyle, as well, though he does look distractingly youthful in a number of panels.

While many artists seem to have trouble drawing the sexes equally well, that’s apparently not a problem for Walker. Though her expressions are obscured by her mask, Star Sapphire gets a good showing in this comic. There’s actually one panel of Carol Ferris that, both in terms of writing and art, singlehandedly gives her more personality than I’ve seen from her in the long time. It’s a little thing, but the reminder that she has her own life and the excellent use of body language make Carol feel like an equal participant rather than a quota to fill. Strangely enough, in this case I’m referring to violet light rather than women.

The Conclusion: I felt that the new team’s debut last month was more than a little generic. While this doesn’t fully answer my concerns, Jordan and Walker both tip their hands this month, giving us a quick look at their strengths.

It doesn’t right the ship, but it proves that this series still has legs. If the creative team can build on the best of this issue, the series may yet have a chance at glory, but , on its own, New Guardians #23 is unremarkable, no better and no worse.

Grade: C

-Noah Sharma