Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, April 28, 2006

So what's up with the Guy Gardner obsession anyway?

I only cut this because the word wrapping kept screwing my blogroll...I love Guy Gardner. I'm sure this shocks you. I've blogged about him many times, (though probably about equal to the amount of time I've blogged about Kyle or Sand, but I've never counted to be sure).

Somehow over time, probably with the end of Recharge actually and when I finally got a chance to sit down and read pre Kyle Green Lantern as well as Warrior, he became one of my two all time favorite DC characters. (If you can't guess the other, you're new here, I'd bet. :-) Oh well, it's not like I've ever claimed to be varied in my topics. Eventually my attention span will shift again. Maybe.)

Most of the appeal comes from his Warrior, post-healing-of-brain-damage personality. I liked his interactions with Kyle. I liked them with Arisia. I liked him mooning Batman and verbally poking the nightlights to get their asses in gear in Recharge.

I find it incredibly amusing that he was a sweet guy who after finally healing himself apparently decided being a jackass was more fun, but still lets glimpses of his squishy center show. I also like that every so often, he's a scheming manipulator, poking and poking until he gets the results that he wants.

Really, I probably like him because if I were a man, I'd probably be Warrior/Recharge-era Guy Gardner, without the cool powers. And that's a little disturbing.

Besides, my narcissistic tendancies are not the topic here. He's just a fun character whose actually quite a bit more intelligent/deductive than he seems, is more complex than he seems, and says and does things that make me laugh. A lot. I think it'd be really easy to write dialogue for him...though I'd have to cut back
on the foul language. Comics code and all that. (The dialogue I imagine is just a little unpublishable, so it'd need toning down to be comics-appropriate.) And he got turned into a woman, which is just damned funny.

But the version I tend to end up posting about and focusing on and dissecting the most is the brain-damaged, idiot/jackass version. The one I wouldn't know where to begin to actually write. The one that tries to take control of the Justice League, gets punched by Batman, says horrible things to pretty much everyone, smashes phones and hates Power Girl's cat.

I suppose some of it could be traced to the Guy-Ice thing, how she manages to extract those teeny fragments of humanity out of his prickly, egotistical, dimwitted self. And that's a part of it. I do like their relationship. A LOT. As well, some of it comes from my interpretation of him as a bratty, confused, eight year old in an adult's body (emphasized by things like this and even this which ties into the Ice thing too.) Part of it has to do with my attraction to dynamic growth in characters, I mean, each stage of the character's evolution is vastly different but tied together in a narratively-logical manner. Which is a pretty good trick.

But most of it is because of, well, this:



This is an excerpt from an "article" out of a tabloid magazine "Spy" in JLI/JLA v2 38. It's a little hard to read but it basically involves the reporters having gone through a magazine collection. There were a lot of dirty magazines of course, but then they continue with the excerpt, which I'll type as it's hard to read:

"What struck us as oddest in this collection, however, were a number of various children's magazines, all carrying mailing labels bearing Mr. Gardner's name. Why, we wondered, would Guy Gardner be interested in THESE? Interestingly, all the magazines of this type we found were dated within a six month period, ending six months ago. Examining them closely, we discovered that all the activity and coloring pages were dutifully completed, straight through to the crossword puzzles -- although we hasten to point out that most of the answers there were incorrect. In some places, two or three letters were entered into a single box. Beyond testifying to Gardner's sub-human IQ level, we were at a loss. Could this boorish, super-powered lout have a soft, child-like underbelly? Or was this just some sort of phase he was going through?"

The truth is, I find the entire concept of brain-damaged Guy Gardner viscerally horrifying. My fascination with this version of Guy Gardner has more to do with why other people watch scary movies or play Silent Hill with the lights off than anything else.

When I was seven or eight, in school, they made us read Flowers for Algernon. This was the first book I'd ever read to make me cry. This book seriously gave me *nightmares* for weeks. It didn't matter that Charly was only reverting back to his original state, for me, the sheer concept of being an intelligent and articulate person, even if only for a short time, and having it stripped away again...and to *know* that it's been taken away...

That's my idea of Hell, literally.

So this little article snippet is one of the most genuinely horrifying things I'd ever read. Here you have a man who at one point was a very intelligent person. He graduated college with *two* degrees. That's not easy to do. That's a lot of work. That's a lot of exams and papers that would require a decent capacity for analytical thinking and logical reasoning.

Reduced to a mind that can't complete a child's crossword puzzle correctly.

And there isn't any memory loss or amnesia involved. Guy gives every sign of remembering things that happened before the damage. He certainly remembers Hal's role in the whole thing. That implies that he remembers having the intellectual capacity he would have needed to get his degrees, he'd remember being able to take tests about Freud and Jung and Kinsey, write reports on educational theory or technique. He'd remember being able to do all that.

And he can't correctly complete a child's crossword puzzle.

For me, this is quite possibly the most intensely horrifying concept in all of superhero comics. It's the most devastating loss I could ever imagine. I'm no genius, I'm not particularly gifted academically, but if somehow that happened to me, I sincerely would not have been able to take it.

Which in turn makes the character hit something else for me. Admiration and amazement. This character's endured something I never could, survived, kept going. Kept completing those kid's puzzles, even wrong, even though it must have been incredibly frustrating and painful.

And eventually another thought occurred to me, have you ever tried to complete a crossword puzzle incorrectly? *Especially* using a few letters to a box? It'd have to work across and down, you know. And from the derisive tone of the article, they'd have said if it was completed in gibberish. From the sound of it, there were actual words in the puzzles.

And that's pretty damned amazing. That takes determination and real creativity. The intellectual crippling is definitely still there (it's pretty unmistakable in JLI/GL) but that...it's *breathtaking*.

And now he's *better*. When he became Warrior, through his own determination and will and not some bestowed gift from above, it *healed*. And that is incredibly gratifying. It's...beautiful and impossibly gratifying.

I've heard comic book fans talk about the true and real feelings of awe and amazement that Superman instills in them. That's what this entire concept does for me. It's just that damn powerful to me.

Or I'm just crazy. There's that possibility too. :-) Besides, it's my blog, I can obsess about which characters I like. :-P

(Ack, I just had a disturbing thought... Between those crosswords and the fact that in Warrior, he speaks Ice's language well enough to have complex conversations with her mom, which he would have had to learn from her while having the intellectual capacity of a drunken, concussed babboon...how the hell smart is he with his brain *intact*?

I'm not going to think about that anymore. I'm getting a headache.)

16 Comments:

  • At April 28, 2006 7:28 AM, Anonymous Jaap said…

    Really, I probably like him because if I were a man, I'd probably be Warrior/Recharge-era Guy Gardner, without the cool powers. And that's a little disturbing.


    Hehe, I AM a guy and I'm probably like Guy without the cool powers.

     
  • At April 28, 2006 8:16 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Heh, cool. :-) We are siblings in spirit. Or something like that.

    I'd offer you a beer, but well... :-)

    Though I'm both sad and relieved I don't have female!Guy's rack. Those things were scary. Then again...alien DNA. :-P

     
  • At April 28, 2006 4:54 PM, Blogger RAB said…

    Okay...it's one thing for you to write about some character or book I've always liked and come up with insights I can appreciate as being valid and on the money. But when you take a character I've always loathed and considered poorly written and misguided, and you make me say "wow, this character is a lot more interesting and has more potential than I ever realized" -- that's seriously impressive.

     
  • At April 28, 2006 5:03 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Aww, that's nice of you to say, thanks! :-)

     
  • At April 28, 2006 6:38 PM, Blogger Dr. Flem said…

    Very nice piece. Of course, now i'm going to have to read Warrior - though I think you're the only person I've ever read/talked to who recommends it.

     
  • At April 28, 2006 9:16 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't necessarily recommend it. Don't get me wrong, I love Warrior. But it's very...acquired a taste. (A note: When I describe Warrior, I'm describing Beau Smith's run on it, the Vuldarian stuff basically, starting in the 20s).

    Basically Warrior is what you get when you shove everything horrid about 90s comics together, in a blender, and puree on high. It's written by Beau Smith, a guy known for his manliness in the most over the top way possible.

    The art is absolutely, undeniably *horrid*. The plots are insane. There's so much gratuitous cheesecake and beefcake. And it's filled with all the faux edginess you'd expect from a 90s comic with a guy who gets really big and turns body parts into big guns.

    But somehow, it all manages to work for me. It's all the awfulness keeps cancelling itself out leaving basically a protagonist that's gruff, posturing, and over the top, but also very sincere, a supporting cast that's a bit...odd, but also strangely appealing, female characters that are there for eye candy but somehow actually written with a great deal of charm and strength. (Veronna's a great character, and he made *Arisia* tolerable).

    There's a very odd, subtle, emotional depth. Ice isn't mentioned very often, but there's this pervasive feeling of loss and emptiness that when she is mentioned, it always packs a punch.

    And while I tend to roll my eyes at Christmas issues in general, the Warrior one was actually incredibly moving as it drifted through, giving Guy the chance to resolve things with lost loved ones and find some actual peace.

    ...actually it ends with him and Fire banging...but somehow, in that it's all about Ice, it's actually oddly sweet instead of horrific and appalling.

    And the gender shifting story is oddly inoffensive. Seriously, there's an insane amount of objectification and cheesecake, but that's part of the plot. Guy himself, or rather herself, is just Guy having found himself in a very weird body. There's no nonsense about somehow being less able or more emotional as a woman. And a woman (two actually) ends up saving the day.

    It's really very much an acquired taste though.

    And weirdly enough, most of the others I know who like the series are women. I have no idea why. I could conjecture that it's something in Mr. Smith's knack for subtle emotion. Or the whole writing an anti-hero/hero that's got the gruff exterior down, but the squishy inside too.

    But it'll require a strong stomach to get used to it. \

    The earlier issues are still pretty good, and less scary...Emerald Fallout for example really should not be missed, but it also involves a Guy that hasn't yet fixed the brain damage while he had the yellow ring...which oddly enough seemed to make him seem a little saner.

    But somehow it's the crazier, all out Warrior period that works for me.

    ...Just, if you are gonna read it...brace yourself first...it's *not* for the faint of heart.

     
  • At May 01, 2006 5:24 PM, Blogger Dr. Flem said…

    Well, thanks for the warning. Since I took the 90's off from comics, I have been a little cowardly about reading anything from the time. But if you recommend it, I'll give it a shot.

     
  • At May 01, 2006 5:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It *is* good. Just...takes some getting used to. :-)

     
  • At April 06, 2009 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry for the comment on a really old post, but I found it through google. Your premise is wrong. Guy was suffering from brain damage at the time. After being conked in the head, Guy became a nice and simple guy. He later as knocked out again and became the same old guy. This is why he only had the magazine subscription for 6 months.

     
  • At April 06, 2009 5:20 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You might want to actually read my post again, friend.

    My point is that Guy, being brain damaged, can't even do a child's crossword. And what that's got to be like for someone who REMEMBERS having a normal cognitive ability. It doesn't matter that the kid's magazine was something he wouldn't have bought before the damage. I don't buy kids' magazines either, but I know I can still do the crossword puzzle.

     
  • At April 06, 2009 5:22 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    And Guy was suffering from brain damage from his second Green Lantern appearance until Vuldarian era Warrior. The temporary nice revision was just a tiny fragment of the whole thing.

     
  • At April 06, 2009 5:31 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    To correct myself: it happened in his third appearance, led to him being a vegetable until the Guardians woke him up to use him during Crisis, explicitly chose not to fix him (telling Hal this even) and extended until he awakened his Vuldarian genes in Beau Smith's warrior. I'll gladly get the issue numbers for you if you want, I'll just need to dig them out.

     
  • At December 26, 2011 6:21 AM, Anonymous comprar tablet pc said…

    Quite worthwhile data, thanks for your post.

     
  • At December 12, 2013 8:44 PM, Blogger ChrisW said…

    I first encountered Guy in the 1980s "Green Lantern" series. I don't recall the exact issue numbers, but they're probably cheap on ebay or a comic book store.

    Guy Gardner is someone who was f*cked over by the universe, and I've hardly read any comic he was in since, well, before the "Guy Gardner" series changed its name to "Warrior". Let me count the ways...

    1: He was just as worthy to be Green Lantern as Hal Jordan, but Hal happened to be closer geographically.

    2: When he finally did become Green Lantern, it was as a junior back-up. Nonetheless, he trained and improved himself from his horrible upbringing in Baltimore, not that this saved him when...

    3: The Guardians of the Universe (or the DC creators/editors) decided there should be a black GL [John Stewart] and, to get Guy out of the way, had him smashed by a bus. The bus was hanging off a destroyed overpass and Guy was rescuing some trapped children, without even having a power ring, mind you!

    4: Somehow, he came back from that and was again acting as Hal's back-up. Hal had a defective power battery and was flying back to Oa to find out the problem. While he was gone, Guy became GL again, and used the defective battery Hal had left him. It blew up in his face and put him in a coma for a long time. I believe this is where the 'brain-damage' part of his life comes in.

    5: In 1985, during the "Crisis on Infinite Earths," the Guardians have a schism regarding what to do about the problem, and a few of them decide to wake Guy up from his coma. This implies they had the ability to do so the whole time, to heal a man who was wounded *IN THEIR SERVICE* only when they see a way for him to be useful. They let him get hurt by the defective tool they created, they stranded him in a worthless body, and only bother to check in on him when the universe is coming to an end? That's despicable!

    6: By this point, Hal had quit being GL and John Stewart had taken the role. If it's true that the best version of a given superhero is whenever you started reading him/her, then Green Lantern gives me the best of all worlds, because my GL is Hal, John and Guy equally. Anyway, the mission Guy was woken up from his coma and given a ring to accomplish involved the *wrong* way to end the Crisis on Infinite Earths. It would have helped seal the Anti-Monitor's victory. Fortunately John Stewart led a bunch of other GLs and won, and as much as I like Guy, I have no objections to his defeat at John's hands (ring) on the anti-matter world of Qward.

    But Guy wouldn't have been in that position if he wasn't sent there by renegade Guardians healing from his injuries at their hands which they could have healed at any time while performing missions that he was only the second runner-up based on geographical proximity! [And, it might be added, a former renegade Guardian of the Universe caused the Crisis on Infinite Earths in the first place!]

    Sure, I like the buffoon of Giffen/DeMatteis' "JLI", and I enjoyed the "Guy Gardner: Reborn" series [which became a monthly comic that eventually became "Warrior"] and I loved his reappearance in "I Can't Believe It's Not Justice League", but I've never seen much that truly captures the complexity of Guy Gardner's character.

    Maybe it's the "Moe" haircut?

     
  • At March 18, 2015 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    *Sigh.* Fine, if you want to like Guy all you want, then see if I care. But I'll never love him because of his attitude problem and my strong dislike for many jerks.

    As for someone who claimed that those who hate Guy have no taste, that person's a liar. I mean, who is he or she to decide that those who are different from him or her have no taste

    We all have opinions and they should all be respected. besides, how would all people like it if others antagonized them just for having opinions?

     
  • At March 18, 2015 1:38 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You do realize this post is almost nine years old, right?

    That said, Guy's still awesome. This blog contains many reasons as to why. (A quick search for "guy gardner" will take you to most of them).

    Enjoy them, or not. :-)

     

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