Friday, May 19, 2006

Earth's Other Green Lantern

This one's for you Green Lantern fans out there: Green Lantern 59, March 1968. I'm cleaning out the last of my longboxes, moving the comics into nice, shiny new shortboxes. This was the first comic I pulled out, one of the few Green Lantern issues I kept when I sold off 2/3 of my collection 15 or so years ago.

This is how I know Guy Gardner, although he's much cockier on the cover than in the actual story. In the story, he's earnest and cleancut. I've come to accept that what happened to him has changed him, and I do like him now, but probably not as much as I liked him in this issue.

6 comments:

  1. Remember how the plot of this issue involves Guy using a route through space that Hal doesn't use, and as a result he brings peace to a world of warring boys and girls thanks to his experience as a schoolteacher? It always vaguely bothered me that in the comic book "reality" those kids were presumably still at war because Guy never visited there. Hal didn't say anything about heading there to straighten things out; he just figured it was okay to leave them that way. All these years later, I still remember that glaring oversight. That's just the kind of kid I was!

    Like you, I accept that the modern Guy is traumatized and brain-damaged and whatever else they've stipulated to justify his behavior...but I have yet to see any writer try to bring the threads together and explain how this Guy comes from that original Guy. It would give the character some additional depth, but maybe that isn't what people want.

    Oh yeah, and the Gil Kane-designed GL armor Guy wore in this issue totally rocked. That's something they actually could have brought back with the retconned-to-death obnoxious and aggressive Guy. It would have been cool. Ah well...

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  2. The thing that always stayed with me from this was that if Guy had been GL first, things would've gone wrong and he would've been mortally hurt and as he was dying, summoned Hal, so Hal would've been GL anyway. And at the end, he gets the Guardians to let him go meet Guy.

    I wouldn't have seen plot holes and omissions even if they'd had arrows pointing at them, and I was 15 when I read that issue.

    And I have always loved Gil Kane's art.

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  3. but I have yet to see any writer try to bring the threads together and explain how this Guy comes from that original Guy.

    Warrior makes an attempt to do this, postulating an additional element to the personality change was due to a third party villain's alteration inside of his head.

    Well, it worked in context. The Guy Gardner of Warrior, after fixing the damage, was irritable, cranky and macho on the surface, but had a lot more of that earnestness beneath. (There was also, one might imagine, a little bitterness toward the fact that being injured in the line of duty, through no fault of his own led to his being essentially made into a social pariah, might contribute to his...ill-temper, upon being fixed).

    I have to admit, it's the inherent dynamic nature of the character that draws me to him. There's an element of growth and constant change/development that the other, more static, Lantern characters don't have. While in the end, some of the core elements (a strange sort of innocence and...purity of emotion, if that makes sense) never completely disappear.

    (I'd personally like to think Guy, once he woke up from the coma, did in fact take that missing space route and find those kids. And somehow managed to help them anyway, even if not exactly by the same methods he would have before. I'm an optimist that way.)

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  4. I do like Guy. He at least has an interesting personality. Much as I missed Hal when I got back to reading comics and found he was gone/dead/whatever, and much as I'm happy he's back, he is a bit bland, though not to the level Barry Allen was. It was Hal's friendship with Ollie that made Hal seem special because they were such opposites.

    Guy hasn't needed to be with another character to show his personality. He's interesting on his own. What bugs me is how he's written, with depth rarely shown in the appearances I've read. Same as with Ollie, when writers didn't get him, and just made him self-righteous and cranky and failed to show his heart.

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  5. Funnily enough, Shelly, the thing that stayed with you leads into a good example of the sort of thing I'm talking about. Hal felt the need to ask the Guardians' permission to meet Guy Gardner for the first time. How was that any of their business? But it connects with the next phase of Hal's development: the point at which Ollie calls him on being too subservient to the Guardians and following their orders without question. The latter scene works because we can find examples like this of Hal being that person.

    kalinara, that would have made an interesting story...and one which might have done the thing I was talking about. Not justifying or explaining Guy's current behavior, but showing us something that makes us see this is the same person despite how events have altered him. As I recall, the implication of the original story was that Guy had an affinity for relating well with children, and was able to manage the situation on that planet in a way that Hal couldn't have done. The next time we see Guy in the story that introduced John Stewart, he's again trying to help a child.

    What if, say, that quality survives in the current Guy Gardner, but he expresses it differently? Like, this time he'd pick out the most aggressive troublemaker in the bunch and say "Listen, you snot-nosed punk, I'm in charge now" -- and it turns out to be exactly what that kid needs to hear at that moment. Or with a frightened, timid kid Guy might show unexpected gentleness. And if a villain threatened a child, we'd expect Guy to really tear him several new ones.

    That's just an example, but it's the sort of thing I mean by finding a continuous thread in a character.

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  6. Good point, rab. Hal really was rather subservient back then, which was odd given his daredevil test pilot life. When they dropped that for having him sell insurance, that was almost more fitting with his personality, and it made it hard to see him as the man without fear who should be a GL. Ollie really rocked his boat, didn't he? ;)

    I can almost see how Hal's conflicted self -- daredevil, touch of arrogance himself (he did have his macho male moments, especially with the women in his life) vs the subservient ringbearer -- led to the meltdown that led him to become Parallax (I haven't read those stories, just the summaries, so I might be way off here).

    Sometimes, I think Hal plus Ollie would equal one fairly well rounded character.

    And yes, Guy was good with kids. They should explore that more.

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