I am a complete sucker for stories which provide more background on the history of the Green Lantern Corps and its rich history. That noted you can imagine that I had more than a little interest in the Relic issue of Villains Month knowing that readers would be getting a look at the origins of the colossal threat to all the ring wielders. Green Lantern 23.1 gave us some intriguing backstory about the use of the emotional spectrum as well as a rather sobering realization that should Relic be correct he might be the only being in the universe to save us from the greatest threat to our existence – ourselves.
Issue 23.1 is a bit of a departure in traditional storytelling with Venditti and artist Rags Morales opting to fill the issue with splash pages and narration boxes. The decision gives the issue a different feel, almost as though the reader has been given a secret chapter in the Book of Oa. While this does prevent the issue from getting closer to understanding Relic as a character it does provide a much needed glimpse into his motivation for going after the ring wielders of our universe and succeeds in giving us the opportunity to share the experiences that Kyle and the Templar Guardians did in Green Lantern: New Guardians #23.
I found myself really drawn into the universe that came before ours and the Lightsmiths which bear the all too familiar color schemes to those in ours. The parallels between their time and ours, complete with their own War of Light, reinforces the notion that these patterns are cyclical and that what happened to Relic’s universe could soon be the fate of our own. The allegory between the fate of the universe before and our own dwindling natural resources is intentional, with Relic poised to stop our fictional universe from depleting all of the emotional energy before we cause everything from collapsing in upon itself as he bore witness to ions before.
It was also interesting to see the use of the Source Wall and the Hand of Creation in this issue and while Venditti continues to leave their true nature as the enigmas they’ve long been it’s a nice nod of respect to the greater DC universe. Touches like that elevate Relic’s arrival from being just another debut to something that carries a bit more cosmic weight full of an imposing physical presence and a disturbingly advanced mental prowess.
|The first War of Light|
That Relic’s universe used the emotional spectrum to such great levels begs the question of the notion of consumption versus creation. In our upcoming episode of The Podcast of Oa I asked Venditti if Relic’s proportions changed when he was remade at the dawn of our universe or if everyone in Relic’s universe was as enormous as he is now. His response was that the latter were true which might be one reason why the Lightsmith’s doomed their own universe – their use of the energy of the emotional spectrum was at a rate far greater than they could create given their increased proportions. Not knowing how populated the universe was might also be a key to the amount of emotional resources generated in the first place and I hope that through this event we learn more about all of it.
The question that lingers with me is whether the recent malfunctions of the rings are connected to our universe reaching that same tipping point, or if presence of Relic himself is a catalyst for it. I think his awakening and the ring malfunctions are too coincidental not to be linked in some way.
|Relic witnesses the end of his universe|
It was great to see the always impressive artwork of Rags Morales this time around, not that Billy Tan isn’t a great artist. Most of the the pages of this issue were were used as the black and white sketch covers over the past couple of months for the lantern family of books, so it was interesting to try to figure out the story that was going to be told as they were released. Morales’ art added a great deal to Venditti’s script and he really created a visually captivating universe that seems both familiar and completely alien at the same time.
Your interest in the cosmic history of the Green Lanterns will greatly shape your opinion of this issue. For me it provided a needed piece to the greater puzzle of Lights Out and I really enjoyed it. Somewhere in my imagination I could picture Ganthet secretly depositing this much guarded and banned section of The Book of Oa in my pull list at my local comic shop. I hope this isn’t the last that we see of Relic’s universe and I’m looking forward to Venditti hopefully expanding that history somewhere down the road. Four out of five lanterns.