DC Comic’s “Zero Month” is all about creating entry points for new readers and laying down some groundwork for the history of characters in the post relaunch DC continuity. While Green Lantern #0
used its entry to launch a whole new character in the form of Simon Baz, Green Lantern Corps chose to give us a newly constructed background for Guy Gardner. Guy’s history required a score card to keep track of all the changes and twists in a history that started with him being a upstanding school teacher and went everywhere from abused child to brain damaged anti-hero to Sinestro ring wielding loner to a warrior with alien laced DNA. Peter Tomasi has a great affection for the character and with this issue he attempts to re-define the ginger lantern and gets mixed results.
The Story –
The issue starts out with Guy Gardner fighting along side fellow new recruits and staring down defeat as one by one their adversary strikes down the Green Lanterns in training. As Guy is about to face his own doom we jump back in time to days before the ring has found his finger and we see Guy viewing the rest of his family from afar at the Police Academy graduation of his younger sister, Gloria. Immediately we see that Guy and his father have a history that’s not exactly full of love and understanding, although we don’t get a lot of information as to why there is bad blood between them.
|The attitude is there, but the heart isn’t
When Guy’s father departs Guy, his older brother Gerard and Gloria to share some time together and when they part ways Gerard encourages Guy to try to mend fences and provides two baseball tickets for Guy to use to create an opportunity on neutral ground. Meeting with his father with good intentions it’s not long before the history between them boils up and we learn that Guy at one time chose the family profession in the force, but an incident where lives were lost resulted in Guy’s getting fired and solidified the poor image of Guy in his father’s mind of a son who muddied the family name.
More history comes to light of a middle child who could never get the spotlight and a father with lofty expectations that his son couldn’t meet. With the police scanner playing out in the background Guy erupts in anger in frustration until his father falls asleep in a drunken stupor and Guy hears Gerard’s voice over the scanner that there’s an officer down. The scene shifts to Gerard under heavy gunfire and about to be killed when Guy arrives on his motorcycle and manages to take out several of the armed men.
|The childhood abuse which defined Guy has been seemingly replaced by a bad case of being a middle child
Guy manages to get his wounded brother in the patrol car and discovers his brother’s partner dead in the front seat. Peeling off in the patrol car Guy tries to keep his brother alive as a familiar green ring flies down and jumps on Guy’s finger, transforming his biker outfit to a Green Lantern uniform. Guy manages to use the ring to get the two officers to the hospital in time to save his brother’s life. With a new sense of purpose Guy announces a day later that the power ring is going to allow him to make a name for himself.
Returning to the training outpost we rejoin Guy as Xar is about to finish of Guy, but the alien makes the mistake of belittling Gardner which motivates him to quickly turn the tables on Xar and capture him. Kilowog recognizes Guy’s potential and awards him his Green Lantern logo ahead of graduation. Guy decides to impose his fashion sense on the uniform, resulting in his familiar double breasted uniform which now comes as inspiration from his biker outfit rather than being modeled after the predecessors to the Alpha Lanterns, the Fists of the Guardians
. Guy meets his sector partner, Hal Jordan, and the seeds are planted for the rivalry between the two.
|Despite the changes, the entertaining rivalry remains.
As I wrote earlier, Guy Gardner’s history has been long and muddled one and totally that isn’t accessible to a newer fan, so it’s not a surprise that Tomasi chose the zero issue to try to streamline the history a little despite the fact that the Green Lantern corner of the DCU has remained largely unaffected by the relaunch. What we end up with is something that has elements of the history but that discards more than it holds onto and while it may be more palatable to the newcomer it may very well be viewed as having changed too far from what long time fans of Guy have come to know. For those who aren’t familiar with the journey long time fans have had with Guy Gardner, take a few moments to check out our Green Lantern 101
feature on him and you’ll see what I’m talking about when I say that he has had quite the journey.
Where this leaves other things in his history is a huge question mark for long time fans, many of whom liked the evolution of the character over the years. As it appears now the Guardians have established the two Lanterns per sector rule much earlier than we knew before and how John Stewart now fits into this is anyone’s guess. Things like his time with Sinestro’s ring and his Vuladarian heritage are seemingly no longer a part of his history which has ruffled the fur of a number of fans online.
While I’m not too broken up over this myself I have to admit that while Guy’s backstory is one that could benefit from some re-tooling, this didn’t really do him any favors in my opinion. For me I found Guy’s motivations for being upset with his father hard to grasp. I’m a middle child myself and I understand how frustrating it can be to be in that part of the familial pecking order, but Guy’s actions go well beyond that. That his siblings don’t harbor the same feelings towards their father leads me to believe that the childhood abuse is either being greatly downplayed or it has been excised all together. And rather than Guy rising about the abuse and after travelling a difficult road finding a purpose only to suffer personality affecting brain damage he instead reads rather more as a spoiled brat who’s mad because his father didn’t give him enough attention. Sure it explains his need for being in the spotlight but it removes much of what would give me reason to rally behind the character.
The Art –
Fernando Pasarin does a great job this issue in capturing Guys’ personality with his face work and likewise turns in an excellent effort of conveying the frantic pace in the action sequences.
What Do I Think?
While writer Pete Tomasi retells Guy Gardner’s early days with the best of intentions, there’s just too many things trimmed from previous continuity for long time fans and nothing redeeming put in to make anyone want to be in his corner. If this is all set up for the “fall of Guy Gardner” alluded to when he gets all the Guardians’ attention during the Third Army story is doesn’t do a very good job of making Guy any stronger of a character for what’s to come to be compelling. While I usually have praise for Tomasi’s work, this one just didn’t have the quality that I’ve come to expect. Two out of five lanterns.