Central to the October “Green Lantern” storyline “Lights Out” is the villain Relic. This scientist from a long extinct universe is not some mustache twirling, snickering, revenge crazed bad guy. Relic believes that his actions are the only way to save our universe from suffering the same fate as his own. To do this he will have to destroy the Green Lantern Corps and the various color corps within the DC Comics Universe.
In Relic, “Green Lantern” writer Robert Venditti has created the best kind of foe for a hero, one that makes you think, and one whose actions do not feel evil and are done as he feels he is serving the greater good, and he may just be doing that. With artist Rags Morales, Venditti reveals the origin of Relic in the Villain Month tie-in comic book “Relic” #1 aka “Green Lantern” #23.1.
The story reveals the beginnings of Relic in an “existence before ours.” The universe is filled with Lightsmiths who wield the power of the emotional spectrum, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet which gives extraordinary abilities to those who wield the light. A scientist explains to the Lightsmiths that the light they wield is not infinite. He preaches conservation. He is dismissed as a relic of an ancient time.
Venditti shows that this scientist was not wrong. The reservoir of energy that the Lightsmiths drew their power from had limits. By doing this the writer makes Relic into a tragic figure. He had a solution to save his universe but his voice was overwhelmed by those who loved their power too much.
Relic becomes an allegory for conservation. His eyes witnessed the destruction of one world now he knows how to avoid the same result in a new universe and he’ll do whatever it takes to save it.
The gorgeous pencils of Morales tell the story clean and clearly. “Relic” #1 is presented in a large artistic format. Because of the scope of the narrative of the issue Morales does not break down the issue into the traditional comic panel grids. Each page is its own standalone piece of art that tells the story at a deliberate pace. This method is important because each moment of Relic’s story is given great significance. The full page design is also a nod to Relic’s large stature. The character towers over the beings from our universe, the one he has relocated to.
Making a villain into a compelling threat for a hero is a tough task. Not only do they need to be able to stand toe to toe with some of the most powerful heroes ever dreamt of, but they need motivation. Venditti and Morales give Relic plenty of motivation as the villains sets up to oppose Green Lantern and any other hero or villain that draws power from the emotional spectrum. His failure in one universe, coupled with his refusal to see it happen again give him all the incentive he needs to put an end to the Green Lanterns.
Find “Relic” #1 and the aftermath “Green Lantern: Lights Out” at your local comic book retailer. Click here to find your nearest shop.