Who Are the Green Lanterns of Earth?
Part III: Guy Gardner
Things have never been easy for or Guy Gardner. Growing up in Baltimore, he was beaten mercilessly by his alcoholic father, Roland. He worked hard in school to garner infinitesimal inklings of Roland’s love and attention, but never succeeded – Roland was far too busy lavishing praise and affection on his eldest son, Mace.
How did Guy survive the unrelenting physical and emotional torment? Buy losing himself in his favorite comic series, General Glory. Incredibly enamored of this painfully righteous hero, he modified his hairstyle to reflect the bowl cut of General Glory’s sidekick, Ernie.
In his mid-teens, and due to his rough upbringing, Guy entered the terrifying pre-adult realm of juvenile delinquency. Thankfully, his older brother, Mace – now a police officer – beat the living hell out of Guy and set him on a more productive path.
Guy supported himself, attended the University of Michigan, and earned degrees in education and psychology. Heck, he was even a tremendous football player garnering professional interest until a career-ending injury.
After college, he was a social welfare caseworker who rehabilitated prison inmates. Unfortunately, this frustrating career choice brought out his darker nature, prompting a transition to teaching children with disabilities.
Welcome to the Green Lanterns
When Green Lantern Abin-Sur crash-landed on Earth, the dying alien commanded his ring to recruit a suitable replacement. Initially, the ring discovered two capable recruits – Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner – but ultimately chose Hal due to his closer proximity to the crash. Since Guy was deemed a more than capable candidate, he was selected as Earth’s backup Green Lantern.
Hal later learned of Guy’s reserve status and, in his Hal Jordan identity, staged a “chance” meeting with the newly elected Lantern. And yes, Hal approved, and the two became fast friends.
Although he was initially unaware of Hal’s Green Lantern identity, Guy was assisting Hal on occasional GL adventures. After completing his training with Kilowog, Guy partnered with Hal for more fantastic adventures of derring-do.
The Many (Head) Injuries of Guy Gardner
The life of a Green Lantern isn’t easy, especially when you’re prone to grievous injury like Guy Gardner.
During an earthquake, Guy was hit by a bus – he was struggling to rescue one of his imperiled students. While recovering, the Guardians selected John Stewart as the new backup Green Lantern.
Early in his Green Lantern career, and while on a mission with Jordan, Hal’s Power Battery exploded in Guy’s face. Why? Because it sustained significant damage during a battle with the super-criminal “Crumbler.” And if the explosion wasn’t bad enough, it transported Guy to the Phantom Zone. Right – the veritable ghost dimension stuffed with Superman’s deadliest rogues.
What happened while Guy resided in the Phantom Zone? He was relentlessly tortured by General Zod and his fellow detainees.
Guy’s brain suffered SEVERE trauma due to the bus accident, the exploding Power Battery, and the merciless torture delivered by the Phantom Zone’s enraged denizens. After escaping the Phantom Zone, Guy was diagnosed with brain damage and slipped into a coma for several years.
During the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths – a massive DC Comics event having to do with the destruction of the Multiverse – Guy Gardner was revived by a group or renegade Guardians who enacted more aggressive means to combat the Anti-Monitor (the giant robot-thing causing the aforementioned Multiversal destruction).
He was back; he was helpful; but he was different.
Welcome to the Justice League
Since his revival – which came after his coma—Guy was markedly different. No longer tolerant and considerate, Guy was now childish, arrogant, insulting, easily angered, violent, and unstable. So, it’s quite surprising that he was a founding member of Justice League International (JLI).
Gardner was NOT a fan of Batman. In fact, he resented the team’s leader to such a degree, he challenged the Dark Knight to a fist fight – WITHOUT his ring.
And yes, Batman took him out with one punch. And no, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold couldn’t stop talking about it.
Guy’s JLI membership was littered with petty arguments, fights, personality shifts, and childish tantrums. At one point, he smashed his head into a computer console, making him intolerably sweet, kind, and gentle. A later blow to the head reversed the effect, but it made for especially entertaining reading.
After sucker-punching Blue Beetle in a boxing match and a stern verbal beat-down by Superman, Guy finally availed himself of the JLI.
@#$% the Green Lantern Corps. He’ll Find His Own Ring
Hal Jordan was off-world recruiting new Lanterns for the Green Lantern Corps but eventually returned to his duties as GL of Space Sector 2814. Guy disapproved. Loudly. In fact, Guy challenged Hal to a fist fight – the loser would relinquish his ring and leave the Corps.
Guy lost, so he left.
Determined to find his own ring, he travelled to OA’s “Crypt of the Green Lantern Corps, “ found Sinestro’s grave, and confiscated the yellow Power Ring.
Armed with Sinestro’s ring, Guy returned to Earth and picked a fight with Superman, but ended up rejoining the league and aiding in the battle against Doomsday.
And you know how well that played out for Superman.
Guy Gardner: Alien?
The ring eventually “petered out” due to issues with the yellow Fear Entity, Parallax – the living power source for Guy’s yellow Power Ring.
Guy eventually ended up accompanying the Doc Savage-inspired Buck Wargo and his Monster Hunters on a series of globe-trotting adventures. On one particular adventure in the Amazon, Guy drank from an ancient goblet known as the Chalice of the Warrior Water. The effects? The awakening of long-dormant alien DNA – the DNA of an ancient alien species known as the Vuldarians.
This exotic DNA granted Guy shapeshifting abilities, allowing him to transform body parts into various weapons and projectile canons. It also granted him increased strength and limited invulnerability. During this phase in Guy’s career, littered with painful transformations and an unwieldy power set, Guy called himself “Warrior.”
Guy Gardner: Rebirth
During the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth, Gardner’s alien DNA was overwritten by his human DNA when Parallax possessed Guy and a contingent of Green Lanterns. Hal’s ring split in two, and one immediately bonded with Guy.
With the combined efforts of five Green Lanterns, Parallax was defeated. And for his efforts, the Guardians made Guy a senior officer in the new-new-NEW Green Lantern Corps.The Blackest Night
Guy and Kyle Rayner (another GL of Earth) weren’t fans of the Guardians’ desire to kill captured members of the Sinestro Corps. They plead for leniency and the tiniest bit of mercy, but were dismissed and exiled to Earth.
The two eventually returned to OA, and apparently just in time – the Guardians’ planet was under siege by Black Lantern Power Rings resurrecting fallen Green Lanterns from the Crypt of the Green Lantern Corps.
During the ensuing melee, Kyle sacrificed himself by destabilizing – and therefore detonating – a portable Power Battery. Enraged by Kyle’s death, Guy instinctively channeled red rage energy from the Emotional Spectrum, manifested a red Power Ring, and utilized both Power Rings to easily dispense the Black Lanterns.
Overwhelmed by rage, Guy began turning on his fellow Green Lanterns, but the might of Mogo the living planet (and bonafide GL) purged Guy of the toxic power.
Oh, by the way…
Kyle was totally resurrected by the Star Sapphire Miri Riam.
Although Mogo purged Guy of the Red Lantern energy, only a Blue Lantern – wielding the power of universal, coalesced hope – could truly heal one possessed by the red rage.
And this kernel of knowledge helps us segue effortlessly to our closing chapter:
Guy Gardner: Red Lantern
Hal Jordan needed someone to monitor the Red Lantern Corps – someone on the inside. Guy, having a bit of experience wielding the red rage energy – and admitting to never feeling completely at ease as a Green Lantern – volunteered for the position.
Accepted by the Red Lanterns, Guy eventually challenged Atrocitus’ leadership and defeated him in combat.
Hal promised to give Guy and the Red Lanterns a specific Space Sector to monitor. Through an unexpected series of events, that Sector was 2814. Right – the Space Sector where Earth resides. Oh, my.