Friday, July 08, 2016

Book One Of Three (DC)
Guy Gardner Reborn #1 When: July 1992
Why: Gerard Jones How: Joe Staton

The Story So Far...
As Green Lantern, Guy Gardner had the cosmos in the palm of his hand. He was an intergalactic space-cop and idol to millions - the Justice League of America's take no prisoners powerhouse. He had it all! Then he lost it...

Having gambled his power ring in a showdown with an Earthbound Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner is now a super-hero without super-powers! Not that that will stop him!

Back on the beat of New York City, Guy Gardner is going to clean up dirty streets - starting with Times Square! Possessing only his fists and a bad ass attitude, he begins a grass roots fight for justice starting with a smut peddling hero-hater he's handled before: Black Hand!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Guy Gardner 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Black Hand 5 (Professor)
Speed: Guy Gardner 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Guy Gardner 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Guy Gardner 4 (Trained)
Energy: Guy Gardner 7 (Cosmic Power)

Here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths we use The Tale of the Tape to compare, contrast, and summarize the characters appearing in a featured fight. A popular shorthand has always been the tape stats [above], using an independent metric to highlight the strategic advantages of one character over the other(s).

These stats take from a standardized impression of the character - but sometimes circumstances have it that a character isn't fighting at peak condition. That fact plays a major role in today's featured face-off!

Guy Gardner has been better known for much of his career as one of several Green Lanterns designated to Sector 2814. Legend has it he was very nearly the first man of Earth to be chosen for the honor, but proximity to a fatal crash site of Green Lantern Abin Sur led daredevil test pilot Hal Jordan to receive the ring.

In later years, Guy Gardner became a reservist for the Green Lantern Corps, taking responsibility when Hal Jordan was forced away from his duties. In time, this led to full deployment as a Green Lantern, and even amendments by The Guardians to allow for multiple representatives from a single space sector. No such luck at this point in Guy's career, though!

Hal Jordan's return from a lengthy stay in space led to a showdown for patrolling rights on Earth. Refusing to give up his ring without a fight, Guy challenged Jordan to a powerless fist fight. The cocksure Gardner lost his fight, and we find him today shortly after he'd surrendered his ring.

Not having a power ring obviously lessens Gardner's offensive arsenal, but when it comes to fighting Black Hand -- it also diminishes the threat of the villain!

William Hand would eventually come to be known as the death obsessed scion of the Black Lantern. Long before that, he was merely a pathological hero-hater with a penchant for proverb, cliché, and crime! This profile led to inevitable conflict with local hero Green Lantern, who he battles with a device of special design that can drain a power ring of its energy - turning it against the wearer!

In a past feature we saw Black Hand wave his energy wand at Green Arrow and Speedy [Green Lantern: Rebirth #1]. They don't have super-powers to drain, but their archery gave them the edge against a feverish Hand. Will Guy Gardner be able to produce the same result with his fists? Let's find out...

The Math: Guy Gardner Ranking: Guy Gardner (#95)

What Went Down...
Like a human battering ram -- Guy Gardner ploughs through Black Hand and his gang of rubes! A right hook sends the ringleader flying, leaving his mooks to do the fighting in a descending five-on-one flurry of fists!

Black Hand commentates the action from the sidelines with an assault of applicable proverbs. Gardner takes his lumps from all sides and explodes out of the pack with an extension of muscle. He comes from Black Hand, but the villain uses his position to throw a leg at the stalking hero!

Gardner absorbs the kick to the gut and compliments his foe for scoring an impressive hit. It inspires the hero to strike back with another right hook, and an improvised adaptation of an old cliché: "A fist in the mouth..."

Black Hand's head snaps back from the blow, but is caught with another two-prong assault of mangled wordplay and a mangling left cross!

The big bad is on the ropes and his goons are getting antsy! It won't be long now before the Green Lantern tires of toying with his prey and scoops them up in a big green net of justice. Or will it?...

As the moustached mook tries to run, an observant goon points out a certain power ring absent from the Green Lantern's swinging, white gloved fists. With a twisted grin the meagre muscle rejoins the game, clutching a nearby desk lamp.

Unaware of the conspiracy around him, Gardner continues to sink his fists into Black Hand's waiting stomach. His nose bleeds and his body quivers, but still Hand manages a smile: "The... The... The light that burns twice as bright..."

This time quip serves a distraction gambit that pays off! A desk lamp rockets across the back of Guy Gardner's head - knocking him out cold!

The Hammer...
As commander of the nameless crooks who work for him, Black Hand claims a surprising victory over his arrogant nemesis!

With the former Green Lantern out cold in their midst, Hand and his boys toss him to the gutter, to resume their disreputable trade. It's a harsh lesson in adjustment for the now powerless hero, but as Hand would say, you've gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette! Or scramble some brains, as it were.

If you thought Hal Jordan was the first Green Lantern to be reborn - surprise! Guy Gardner was doing it a whole decade before it was cool! He even kicked off his mini-series with a fight with Black Hand -- something Hal Jordan did twelve and a half years later in Green Lantern: Rebirth #1!

The comparisons between GG Reborn and GL Rebirth taper off pretty quickly after that. There's whole a lot of ring slinging in both - naturally, and a face-off (or two) with Sinestro, but the intent of both stories is binary in difference.

When Hal Jordan was coming back in 2005, DC Comics were correcting course on a mid-nineties twist that turned their Silver Age icon into an arch-villain. The goal was to restore the character to his definitive identity as Green Lantern.

In 1992, Guy Gardner was heading in the opposite direction - ousted as Green Lantern, and in need of a new identity all his own. That identity would come at the end of Reborn through the acquisition of Sinestro's yellow power ring of Qward. A story I'm sure we'll look closer at some time in the future.

Ironically, the definitions of all of these details would be changed significantly by Green Lantern: Rebirth, and the extensive reign of Geoff Johns as writer and creative engineer for the entire Green Lantern mythos.

Rebirth restored Guy Gardner to the Green Lantern identity he was famous for as well, stripping him of Vuldarian powers he'd acquired a few years after Reborn as "Warrior". Guy's Qwardian ring returned to Sinestro, and eventually spawned an entire Yellow Lantern Corps. All the colors of the emotional spectrum would follow shortly thereafter, leading to Black Hand's rise as the first of the death wielding Black Lantern Corps.

I don't know that I'd called Guy Gardner Reborn ahead of its time, but it's certainly an interesting time capsule in the sprawling modern history of the characters involved. It taps into some interesting parody of trends of the time, while also indulging in them. Guy has misadventures as gun-covered vigilante, and doubles down on the bad taste violence in a tenuous team-up with another icon of parody gone straight: Lobo. If you were wondering how a smut peddling Black Hand factors into that - it's actually a callback to an issue of JLA!

If you're a Guy Gardner fan, rest assured there'll be plenty more opportunities to revisit his Rebirth, and other stories. In the mean time, we press on...

As you may know, the entire DC Universe is presently in the process of another line-wide "Rebirth", which is the theme running through all of our feature fights this July! Since we talked about it so much today, next week's feature fight will come from the pages of Green Lantern: Rebirth!

If you're reading this sometime in the future - you'll be able to find that fight and many more by scouring the Issue Index Archive! There you'll find even more superhero smackdown and comic book review!

Winner: Black Hand
#334 (+297) Black Hand
#105 (-10) Guy Gardner

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