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Green Lantern #23.1: Relic – Review

By: Robert Venditti (writer), Rags Morales (penciller/inker), Cam Smith (inker), Andrew Dalhouse (colorist)

The Story: Robert Venditti gives us a lesson in the history of a dead universe.

The Review: Though the overall theme of Villain’s Month is tied into Forever Evil, this comic has its eyes on another prize, the upcoming Lights Out crossover. All the hints scattered throughout the last three months of Green Lantern: New Guardians are brought to bear this week as we get our first peek at Relic’s past.

Relic, we discover is a somewhat tragic figure, a scientist defined by events beyond his control. In his own way, he’s kind of a twisted Jor-El figure, though by the end he’s become his own Superman on a universal scale.

It’s a solid story that introduces a vein of moral ambiguity into Relic’s character, much-needed after his brief visit on Elpis last month. Unfortunately, the story is so archetypal and his motivation so understandable that there’s not much in the way of surprise here. Relic’s been wandering the galaxy screaming about lightsmiths for two months now and it’s not surprising that his cryptic ramblings have dropped some pretty serious hints in that time.

Robert Venditti’s script is rather unique in that it calls for only nineteen panels in a twenty page comic. Every page is a splash and there’s almost no dialogue, with a single page containing the comic’s two word bubbles. The rest of the story is told in caption boxes. This odd storytelling choice gives the issue something of a storybook vibe. This is only furthered by the third person narration delivered, apparently, directly to the reader.

The writing is simple and direct. It’s hard to criticize it, but it’s certainly not exceptional.

Comics are a visual medium and, particularly with a panel to caption ratio that’s only a bit higher than a normal book, this issue feels kind of thin. Especially for those who have already put the pieces together, this issue doesn’t provide much content.

Thankfully the art is provided by Rags Morales, Cam Smith, and Andrew Dalhouse. The artistic team provides nineteen fine images, backed by Dalhouse’s intense colors. Morales’ dead universe is a slightly scarier place than the one we inhabit now. The lightsmiths of their creation tend towards the interestingly monstrous even as their societies reach out for utopia. Though some scenes are certainly stronger than others, the shading is almost universally strong. Best of all are the colors, appropriate for this light-based issue.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, there are only nineteen images. That means that we only have so many chances to enjoy the art team’s work. While the splash of the seven kinds of lightsmiths, for instance, provides us a chance to see the differences between this universe and the last, you might not feel your dollars at work when that takes up a twentieth of your comic, especially if you shelled out the extra dollar for the lenticular cover.

The Conclusion: In the end, we get a nice glimpse into another version of the Lantern Corps, but little more. Readers of New Guardians won’t get much out of this issue, and I fear that those who don’t partake of that particular title will get most of this information again next month when Relic declares “Lights Out.” Limited word count, panel count, and plot progression weigh heavy on this issue and, though it’s not a bad comic, I just can’t recommend it. I’m afraid that this would have been better as the first third of a much stronger comic.

NOTE: PLEASE DON’T BUY THE 3-D COVER.

Grade: D-

-Noah Sharma

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