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Friday, March 27, 2009

When the Fridge Door Reopens?

I haven't blogged anything Green Lantern in ages. Probably because I couldn't think of anything to say that I haven't said already. But recently I've had some inspiration. (Disclaimer, I'm a little behind in GLC, so if something happened to contradict what I've babbled about here, well, it won't be the first time. :-))

I think it was one of Sally's posts that sparked it. Maybe one of her fabulous Green Lantern Corps reviews. I'll find it later and link it. Anyway, she pointed out the very sad fact that it doesn't look like Guy and Ice will get together in the end. And how each one shies away whenever the other starts to reach out.

I thought about it, and she's right of course. Guy comes to find her after all those years apart and lays it on the table in his own Guy way. And she wants time. After he relocates to Oa, THEN she comes to find him. He starts looking like he's going to propose, but only asks her to move in. She gets upset. He gets upset. They resolve things somewhat, but still...

It occurred to me after the fact that that whole proposal-move in with me thing is a blunder that honestly I can't see this version of Guy Gardner making. He's not the bowl-cutted moron anymore and hasn't been for a long time. Since the Corps was rebuilt, he's steadily proved himself to be the most emotionally astute of any of the lead characters. He provokes and pokes and gets the reactions he wants from the newbies. From Soranik. From Hal. From Kyle. Pretty much everyone.

He plays at the smartass rebel because it works and because it annoys Salakk and the Guardians and because it helps the youngsters see that the Corps doesn't have to crush your spirit. And he's honestly very good at it.

Which leads to the question of why on Oa would Guy, who's pretty much proven his astuteness by now a hundred times over, not realize that the way in which he brought up the subject to Tora, a sweet, traditional girl, would look like he was about to make the most romantic gesture of all. And instead, bluntly follow it with an exceedingly impractical invitation to move in together?

There are a hundred ways to ask to move in together and make it a romantic step toward marriage. Cohabitation gives a closeness, time for a couple to truly get to know one another without barriers. It can be a very sweet offer. But if you start with what looks like a marriage proposal and THEN make the offer, it looks like a step back. A traditional girl like Tora couldn't possibly do anything but reel back reflexively, thinking "THAT's what you think of me?!"

This is a guy who can in one gesture simultaneously piss off a stoic genius in a bat costume, a heroic symbol of virtue, a sweet-tempered dreamy artist, and/or a professional and driven doctor basically any time he wants to. He's a symphony conductor and outrage is his instrument.

The idea of Guy Gardner not realizing that the way he made his offer would piss Tora Olafsdotter off is as ridiculous as that conductor not realizing the entire flute section of his orchestra is out of tune.

When Sally posted, I realized that it wasn't sloppy characterization at all. Guy got her angry because that was the result he WANTED. And I realized that my favorite couple is pretty much doomed.

And I'm actually okay with that.

This isn't Mephisto blackmailing Guy with Buck Wargo's life. This isn't a fridging either, thank god. This isn't one of the myriad of other ways that writers can break up a couple once and for all.

This is actually...a fairly natural development.

I mean, think about it. Tora might have loved Guy, but the Guy Gardner that she loved was a completely different person than the one she sees now. Granted, he had been basically a broken, demented eight year old Dennis the Menace in an adult's body. But she really did love him. She was able to push through all the rudeness and idiocy, the childishness, and the deep and very understandable rage at the universe, and find the core of the schoolteacher inside.

I always thought it would be neat when she was finally resurrected, because in the time she was dead, Guy rebuilt himself. Through regeneration and healing, and his own determination, he'd made himself into a man worthy of her. A man that, while still temperamental and provocative, is clever and funny, warm and even in his own way noble. It doesn't take much effort to see Guy Gardner's good qualities anymore. She can get the man she always knew he could be without all the fight and frustration.

But, when I think about it now it occurs to me that if she did love that Guy Gardner, a part of her must have loved the fight and frustration too. Some people are like that. Deep down. Questors and fixers and fighters, who are never happy without a new discovery to find, or a new break to fix, or a new enemy to fight. For example, for me, I've never been able to play the Sims, or any time management game/strategy game on endless or sandbox mode. I need the advancement of levels and the clear recorded goals to have fun. (I like being Catholic, because I honestly think I'd be much happier in purgatory, then in heaven. I'll be working for something.)

If Tora's one of those sorts of people, and honestly, if we look at the kind of people she's drawn to and the kind of life she lives, I think we can agree she is. Certainly, Bea's not the most easy friend to have. Superman as a crush might be more ideal than Guy, but also impossible to reach as a realistic goal. And all of her issues with her own country....

Tora is sweet, nice and open. A pure light even in the DCU. But she definitely lives for a challenge. I'm sure that she could love the man that Guy's become, but could she ever love him as much as the one that she had to push through so many obstacles for just to get him to show her his love?

And really, there's a power dynamic element too. Because that's the real appeal of a bad boy to most young girls, you realize. The appeal that YOU are the one who's causing him to act contrary to his nature. That when he's nice and sweet to you, it's because of YOU, not because he's a nice and sweet person in general. There's a power in knowing that a man is trying so hard to overcome his own nature just because he wants to be with you.

Imagine how powerful Tora must have felt to sit next to Guy in that skating rink and watch as he clung to his temper with teeth and nails rather than rampage just because he wants her to have a good time.

She can't ever feel that power again with him. Because he's done fighting with himself to be the man she believes he can be. He IS that man. And while he might have a few prickly edges here and there, it's not the same. And she never got to see the lengths he went to in order to be this man for her today.

And none of this is getting into the fact that she doesn't KNOW the man he is now. He's a stranger. Granted, he's a stranger with the core of the man she loved, built into an image that he believes she'd want him to be. But that's not the same as knowing someone. And love really is about that knowledge, more than anything else, I think. The knowledge of the core of the other person, both virtues to be appreciated, and flaws to be treasured. But all of her knowledge of him is out of date. And even if he looks the same, and looks at her with the same love, she's going to feel that difference everytime he zigs instead of zags the way she remembers.

It's like that moment where you meet up with a childhood friend you haven't seen for twenty years and you realize "Wow, the last time we met, you were still playing with DOLLS. Now you're someone...entirely new.

That's not saying she can't get to know him and grow to love him, but right now? It's pretty unlikely.

And in all fairness, it's not going to be any easier for HIM either. Guy's done a lot of growing up since she died. And while she's pretty much the same, as far as we can tell, as she was when he saw her last, he's looking at her from a very different perspective.

His love for her was childish and pure. When he lied to Kilowog about their relationship, he didn't do the usual fratboy lie about banging her. He said he was going to marry her. He jumped through hoops for her. Struggled for her. He pulled her pigtails and carried her books and didn't fight with her friends, even though he really wanted to.

But a lot's happened to him since then. He lost everything, found a new identity in the bar, his powers, his friends, lost those, and found a new place at the core of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal, his brother, simultaneously idolized and resented, fell tarnished. Betrayed him. Was forgiven. Redeemed himself, and rose again. And now Guy has his brother back, but as an equal, not a superior. He gained a kid sister in Arisia, lost her, got her back. Sort of. Even if the comic hasn't really addressed that part yet. He's been chewed up, spat out, remolded, and came out of it all the man he is today. He grew up.

But an adult doesn't see things the way a kid does. He doesn't love the same way that a kid does. And heck, sometimes tastes change too. Just because he remembers being in love with Tora doesn't mean that he's in love with her now.

That doesn't even get into the inherent unhealthiness in the fact that he essentially molded the person he is now around the idea of being the kind of man that she would want him to be. There's something OFF there. It's one thing if you have a pair of childhood friends that grew up with each other and fell for each other early on, and made efforts to be suited to each other as they aged and grew. That's at least EQUAL.

This really isn't. And the power dynamic underlying it is incredibly unhealthy in a way that would be more obviously so if the genders were reversed, but is still pretty skeevy.

This isn't to say that these challenges can't be overcome, but it's going to take WORK. They can't just resume where they've left off. And if they're going to get back together, well, they're pretty much going to have to start fresh. If they should get back together at all.

And it's weird because they really are my favorite couple, but I'm okay with the idea that they wouldn't get back together. At least not until, a number of years down the line, some future writer decides to start them anew. Being apart works right now.

Tora needs to find her place in the DCU. She needs an identity that isn't "the girlfriend." Guy for his part...well, he's the emotional center of the Green Lantern Corps. He's busy picking on the kids, poking at them, supporting them, counselling Kyle, supporting Kyle, poking at Salakk, poking at Hal, looking askance at the Guardians' idiocy and so on. He doesn't really have ROOM for a romantic relationship right now.

He's basically married to the Corps, I think. At least for now. Besides, let Kyle and Soranik have the spring love plot for now. God willing, she'll survive it when it breaks apart.

I do hope Ice and Guy keep interacting though, because it really does give an interesting look at what happens to people when fridging gets reversed. God willing someday, we'll actually get Alexandra DeWitt back and see what she thinks of the person Kyle's become.

10 Comments:

  • At March 27, 2009 10:05 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    Oh, Alex -is- coming back. Black Lanterns, remember?

    The Kyle/Soranik dialogue felt downright alien, though. Kyle was talking like a robot.

     
  • At March 28, 2009 8:34 AM, Blogger Saranga said…

    That's a great post. Really great.
    (nope, i've nothing constructive to say!)

     
  • At March 28, 2009 11:27 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Oh crappity crap. You are so right. And I LOVE Guy and Tora, but you are so right. They keep running in the opposite direction from each other without even realizing what they are doing.

    I think that it's possible that eventually, they MAY get together, but it is going to take a whole lot of time and effort. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. For one, it gives the writers a whole lot of stories to tell. Because some of my very favorite old JLI issues were the ones where they made those first tentative moves on each other.

    When Tora was killed, they had been pretty much on the outs for a while, even though Guy was trying to make it up to her. Maybe they would have worked it out, maybe not, but they never got the chance. And that's how Tora remembers him, this NEW Guy has got to be pretty daunting. And he's changed too, more than even he realizes, so I think you are right when you say that he's looking at her differently too.

    Tomasi is a darned good writer though, and perhaps he'll take this ball and run with it.

     
  • At March 29, 2009 8:54 PM, Anonymous Bystander #3 said…

    An excellent, thought-provoking post!

    He's basically married to the Corps, I think. At least for now.

    I think you're right on about this. Guy can't leave Oa and the Corps and the Ring. Tora doesn't ask him to and he doesn't offer. You could say it's because there's a war on and he made a commitment, but that's not it. Not really.

    I think when Guy got that green ring back in Rebirth, it symbolized, for him, the culmination of the journey he took and all the $#!+ he had to go through since Ice died. (The brain damage, the yellow ring, the Vuldarian powers, the bar, dying and coming back, all of it.) He has grown and he's shaped himself into a new man. Getting the ring back means that he's on top again and he's worthy. The fact that he's capable of being "Honor Guard Lantern Gardner of Oa" is the proof that he's successfully rebuilt himself. He can't walk away from that. How could he?

    Guy can't leave Oa without walking away from who he is now and all the struggle he went through to become that person. Ice can't pick-up and move to Oa without a) making her needs totally secondary to Guy's and b) taking a gamble on this new Guy whom she really doesn't know that well anymore.

    They're separated by long distances figuratively as well as literally.

     
  • At March 30, 2009 8:57 AM, Blogger Nick said…

    Seems like their relationship is going the way of Dick and Babs, in a weird sort of way.

    Nice overall analysis by the way.


    Side note: Am I the only one that thinks a Guy/Bea relationship would work a whole lot better?

     
  • At March 30, 2009 9:09 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    You're NOT the only one, Nick. I too liked Guy and Bea, and I was rather sorry that they dropped that whole storyline, and have apparently, never referred to it again, which is a shame.

    But Guy and Bea have a whole lot more in common, although they also have a tendancy to drive each other crazy. And she's a little too flighty.

     
  • At March 30, 2009 2:47 PM, Blogger Frank Lee Delano said…

    So the thing is, I started following this blog because of a really insightful Guy Gardner post I happened upon during a web search. The D-List TV shows/movies and other random bits of editorial are alright, but this is exactly the kind of thoughtful posting that eats all your energy but legitimizes the necessity of the blog. The "fridging" discussion also puts to mind how little interest I have in Valerie D'Orozio's stuff anymore. She's pretty obtuse, but she's writing for Marvel. This analysis is absolutely brilliant, recasting my own views of abysmal periods like Jurgen's JLI run in a new light, and you're still just writing a blog. Once again, in a world where Jeph Loeb collects assignments, I fondly recall Christopher Priest. You're one of the good ones.

     
  • At March 30, 2009 11:47 PM, OpenID looking2dastars said…

    Good post.

    I keep meaning to reply here more often but by new job blocks the reply page at Blogger, for some reason.

    One comment though; I'm not sure that Guy's suggestion to move in was a tactical error on his part. At least, not the way you suggest.

    When Guy first went to Tora after her resurrection, she asked for more time and space to adjust to everything. Guy agreed, despite his obvious longing to get things back to where they were as soon as possible.

    Maybe Guy doing the set-up for the moving-in thing was what he honestly thought she thought the next step should be. He's dying to propose but he's also trying to give her the space she said she wanted. Ironically, in his efforts to give Tora what she says she wants, Guy is shutting off his brain to understanding what she wants.

    Just a thought.

     
  • At March 31, 2009 1:37 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I have to disagree honestly. For all that Guy does appear to have a genuine longing to get back together with Ice before she asks for space, after that point, he ends up doing a lot of things that make a prospective relationship a lot more inconvenient. (Such as moving to Oa, as the big example.)

    I definitely think that if Guy had actually intended to propose, or even wanted to propose, in that scene there would have been an indication after the fact. Moreover, it doesn't make sense that he'd shy back to give her the space she wants NOW, when it's not clear that that's what she wants anymore. (Since she came to Oa herself.)

    If he did genuinely want to propose but went for the move-in together instead, there are a number of ways to bring that about that doesn't involve the mismanagement that we have, and he's more than capable since the regeneration of recognizing that.

    He also doesn't tend to come across, after that scene, as having the same sense of chagrin that he tended to get in the old JLI comics when he'd screw up things with Ice unintentionally. I think subconsciously, at least, he knows exactly what he's doing.

    The fact that he was so enthusiastically for getting together when Ice asks for a month doesn't preclude this really. Guy's fairly impetuous and emotional. It's fairly realistic that as soon as he knows she's alive, he'd run to her, but once given the time to think, it starts to get uncomfortable. Now that she's making tentative steps (though how much is a bit of a question), he's the one making it difficult.

    YMMV though, but that's how I'm reading the dynamic right now. :-)

     
  • At March 31, 2009 10:10 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    What I found really interesting, is that after Guy asks Tora about the whole "cohabitating" thing, and she was so disappointed, is that he deliberately picked a fight. As soon as she mentioned Bea, he started having a tantrum.

    Was he trying to appear like the "old" Guy for Tora? It didn't work the way that it used to, because she lost her temper too, which is rather a step forward for her.

    I am looking forward to their continued interactions with interest, that's for sure.

     

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