Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Favorite Jerks Part 2: Guy Gardner

I'm a HUGE Green Lantern fan...have been since I was a kid. Over the last thirty years of collecting, if there's been at least one common thread, it's that I've been a regular buyer of whatever monthly book that happens to be on the stands that features a GL....any Lantern (I wasn't one of those nutjob "HEAT" guys when Hal went bonkers and Kyle was ring slinging...I accepted Kyle, even if I didn't exactly condone what had been done with Jordan). heart lies with Hal. It always has....but if one was to ask me which Lantern I love unconditionally...I'd probably reply, "Guy Gardner". Guy's like a guilty pleasure...he's a jerk, sure...but his heart's in the right place, even if his brain isn't....

Gardner's the poster boy for every bad cliched male stereotype (especially those we of that gender gained in the 1980s). He's misdirected machismo given a voice....

I started reading Green Lantern in 1979, and stuck through Hal's lapses in confidence...which led to the book's reins being taken over by the character of John Stewart soon afterwards, which in turn led into the period in which the book was heavy tied into the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS event in 1985 and afterwards...probably my favorite. I love that span of issues (from around #192 until #224, the final issue of Hal's original book), and the group of Lanterns that came in and out of Hal's life at the time (right around then, Hal's magazine took on the title GREEN LANTERN CORPS, and became more of an ensemble book featuring a team of Earthbound GLs)...

Above: Green Lantern Corps #201- featuring Katma Tui, John Stewart, Hal Jordan, Salaak, C'hp, Arisa, and Kilowog...

The one reason I love Guy is his stubbornness. It's not that Guy is arrogant (he is), it's just that he can never admit that he's wrong....and being a completely pig-headed chauvinist only complicates matters. But, even having said seems that his bull-headedness is his biggest asset, as well. He's like a punch drunk boxer who won't lay down. It's said that one of the biggest factors in getting a power ring is the wearer's ability to overcome fear. Well....I honestly believe that either Guy is too stupid to be afraid of anything....or, fear is just a completely abstract concept to the man. Kinda like, if someone mentioned what it was like to be afraid to him, he'd react as if he'd never heard of it, probably because the concept had never crossed his mind. Ever. And that doesn't necessarily make him "stupid" just sheds a little light on the amount of will power and drive the character has. Hardcore fans will remember....this is the guy who was in line ahead of Hal Jordan to get a power ring (and possibly more qualified in the eyes of the Guardians at the time)'s only that Jordan was closer in proximity to Abin Sur when the time came. Jordan basically became Earth's "Emerald Guardian" practically due to a technicality...

Oh...did I mention that Gardner has suffered several head traumas, too?

From Wikipedia:

The appointed Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, an alien named Abin Sur from the planet Ungara, crash-landed on Earth after being mortally wounded. As Sur died, his power ring sought and found two potential successors: Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan. Jordan was nearer to the crash, so he was chosen over Gardner.[4] In the later Booster Gold series it was shown that a time traveling Booster convinced Gardner to visit his dying father, thus ensuring that Jordan would be the candidate in closest proximity. Gardner was relegated to backup status should anything happen to Jordan.

When Jordan became aware of Gardner's status as his backup, he went out of his way to set up a chance meeting, and the two became friends. Though Gardner was originally naive to Jordan's secret identity, he eventually assisted Jordan during his adventures.

During an earthquake, Gardner was hit by a bus while attempting to rescue one of his students. During his recovery, the Guardians recruited John Stewart to be Jordan's new backup.

Some time later, during a period where Gardner was performing his duties as a backup Green Lantern, Hal Jordan's power battery, the source of the ring's energy, exploded in his face and trapped him in the Phantom Zone. Jordan and Kari Limbo, Gardner's girlfriend at the time, both believed him to be dead, and the two developed a romantic relationship, and ultimately culminated in a marriage proposal. Gardner was able to interrupt the wedding by contacting Limbo telepathically. By then, however, Gardner's bus accident, the power battery explosion, his assimilation into the zone, and the subsequent torture at the hands of residents of the Phantom Zone had affected his mind. When Gardner was released from the Phantom Zone, he was diagnosed with brain damage and was comatose for a number of years.

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Guardians of the Universe split into two factions over how to confront the Crisis. A minority faction of six Guardians emulated their former brethren, the Controllers, by recruiting a Green Lantern to directly attack and destroy the forces of the antimatter universe. For reasons unknown, Gardner was revived by the renegade Guardians, given a power ring not tied to the Central Power Battery on Oa, and given a mission. He was to recruit and command the deadliest and most powerful criminals in the universe to launch a strike against the home base of the Anti-Monitor.

Gardner's brain damage manifested itself in the form of an arrogant, violent, unstable, and often childish new personality. Gardner believed himself to be the last "true" Green Lantern, superior to all the others, particularly Jordan. Five of the renegade Guardians were slain by a wave of antimatter, and the sixth eventually reconciled with the rest of the Guardians. In the meantime, Gardner succeeded in his task of recruiting powerful villains. Both Hal Jordan and John Stewart prevented Gardner from completing his mission, which would have ultimately destroyed the universe.

Plus, there's his participation in the J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen era Justice League, which may quite possibly be my favorite run of a DC Comic published during my lifetime. Ever. And, IMO, Guy was allowed to not only shine, but was completely fleshed out, and given a clever amount of depth.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Favorite Jerks

Now, I've noticed a trend in my collecting tendencies.....I love protagonists in comics that are absolute jerks. Heroes (sometimes in the loosest of terms) who tend to possess little or no redeeming social skills whatsoever.

I began to notice this a while back, when I started buying DC Comics' newest attempt at a comic based upon the mercenary intergalactic police force L.E.G.I.O.N., this time around called R.E.B.E.L.S....I was a big fan of the original series (which ran from 1987-1993) and the biggest reason for that was L.E.G.I.O.N. founder and leader, Vril Dox aka Brainiac 2....

I love Dox because he's not really evil...he's just completely arrogant, without any visible scruples, and power essence, everything a good villain should be, but he realizes that real power stems from bureaucracy...and he's smart enough to be the one applying the red tape. He's kinda like Victor Von Doom...if Doom was slightly less meglo-maniacal than he actually is, and a hell of a lot less noble. Dox is the kinda guy who views all of his acquaintances as assets, because he doesn't have the patience for the concept of friendship or meaningful relationships. Plus, he's a pretty quick wit and sarcastic to the core...he's the reader's superego given a voice, because the shit that comes outta his mouth makes perfect someone who possesses no tact or compassion......imagine Mr. Spock, only without a moral compass.