You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!
Things are getting cosmic now, as we’re almost halfway through the first issue! And this feller “guy Gardner” seems to be in an awful strop. What’s his deal? We’ve decided to call in his mom Chloe Maveal to explain!
Chloe! There’s a Green Lantern here called Guy. What can you tell me about him – who IS Guy Gardner?
Chloe Maveal: Thank you for calling me in for this parent conference. I understand that my shitty son can be something of an anomaly when it comes to Green Lantern lore. But overall, it’s kind of a stupid story.
Back in the day, DC was extremely dedicated to the idea of Hal Jordan being the stand up milquetoast lad that stood for the Green Lantern Corps. But the same-ol’-same-ol’ gets… well, old — and they eventually had to introduce (by way of an alien named Abin Sur) that no, the ring wasn’t entirely destined just for Hal, but that he had literally just been the closest to the ring and it couldn’t be arsed to go as far as it’s other destination — which was in the hands of Guy Gardner, a school teacher and the Official Green Lantern Backup.
I mean, sure, in that same story the Guardians reveal that if Guy had gotten it first then he would’ve straight up died, but still. Always the bridesmaid. Never the bride. And that was before being hit by a bus and getting trapped in the Phantom Zone.. so the short answer is that in the old days he had a track record of being caught in some pretty rough scenarios. All in all, Guy ends up — one way or another — serving under the Green Lantern Corps.
There is, of course, a whole different side of Guy that we see as he develops over the years. There’s the Guy in Justice League International who is ridiculously funny but also so egotistical and awful who punched out by Batman because Guy really hates father figures probably. There’s the Guy who is constantly trying to get in Ice’s pants. And, of course, there is the Guy who is so far up his own butthole that he tries to fight fucking Lobo like it’s a good idea and then has the audacity to say “Stop telling my how stupid I am!” and quit the team after Superman tells him that yes, he is incredibly stupid.
This is about where I could argue that Guy isn’t entirely just a meathead though — but the sad truth is that the DC writers (when doing the New 52 and Rebirth reboots) decided “Not only is he a meathead, but he’s a shithead” and then made it so that a coma made him wake like “Teaching? That’s for wimps. I’m a cop now, ya fuckin nerds!” And then turned into a jerk. No, really.
Short answer though, Steve? Schoolteacher cop idiot who has a penchant for hitting his head too hard and probably could use some therapy and a hug.
What’s Guy’s relationship with the Guardians, who run the Green Lantern Corps? Do they get on?
Maveal: I mean… he really does hate them. But in the way that the nerdy kids in school hate the popular kids? Let me explain.
Guy is, at the very bottom of his soul, a fighty bastard. His instinct tends to be towards snap decisions, pushing back against orders, and living on the principal of “Better to apologize than to ask for permission”. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t go over so swell with the Guardians — who in this instance are the popular kids. Everyone looks up to them. They’re the hot shit in charge. They set the standard for what it means to be a space-faring fancy pants. Guy Gardner is the goth kid nerd who fucking hates that — but also desperately wants them to notice him so that he can be popular, too.
It’s very swings-and-round-abouts when you boil it down. More than anything, I think that Guy is a Lantern who is genuinely unafraid of the consequences of his actions when it comes to questioning the intents of his higher-ups. The Guardians say jump, and while many Lanterns say “how high?” Guy Gardner is raising his hand to point out that they’re in space so there’s no gravity and they’re already technically jumping.
Can’t really blame him, either. For many of the Green Lantern comics between 2000-2015, Guy has basically been the punching bag of the Corps; often given a position of authority (i.e. his time served as the #1 Lantern — which I fully believe he had a foam finger made for) and then set up for failure by the Guardians in a no-win scenario. The fact is though, that Guy is just enough of a numpty to buy into the idea that the Guardians are truly the all-powerful and that, hopefully, they do have the best interests of the universe and the Corps in mind, even if it means beating it into their skulls and taking some punishments along the way to helping show them.
Guardians. Can’t live with ’em. Can’t live without ‘em.
Has that anti-authority aspect of him ever been explored? Has he ever thought “wait, I’m a space cop… I’m the authority I would usually have problems with”?
Maveal: Steve, I have spent literally weeks trying to unpack this question.
I think that the existence of Guy Gardner as most fans know him is the exploration of that dichotomy. For all intents and purposes, Guy Gardner is the example of what many people see cops as in real like — egotistical, quick to anger, and ready to take out his bitter grudge with the universe on anyone who dares poke the proverbial bear. And honestly? That’s pretty valid. But the fact is that Guy is written to be something as a questioning force.
While he often meets that threshold for why so many people rightfully cry ACAB, Guy is also one of the most definingly anarchistic members of the Lantern Corps. In that he has so many problems unanswered about himself, I’d say that it’s a fair assumption that the question of “Wait…am I the thing that I hate” has come up more than once. But the joy of him as a character in this particular framing really is the lack of self-awareness and introspection.
In almost every story throughout the modern Green Lantern era, Guy — despite being an ass — is always one of the first to stand up for what’s necessary and right; hell, he even stood alongside Kyle Rayner when it came time for the Guardians to be like “Yeah fuckit, just kill them” to the Sinestro Corps in Blackest Night. He does — I believe, at his core— truly want to help the people of the universe. But in that same vein, Guy is also the first to pull the trigger on — or transversely, sleep on the idea of — a needs-must execution of a plan; and even then, I am fully convinced that this all comes back to Guy just desperately needing himself explored more.
I’ll give you an example. During the New 52 of the DCU, there was a pretty intense period where Guy ends up a part of the Red Lantern Corps as a super-sneaky undercover sort of schtick. The funny part is, though, that during his period undercover, Guy is better able to keep his anger and frustrations in check than he ever did as a Green Lantern, and is even able to lead a splinter group of Red Lanterns to guard what ends up being the Earth sector of the Corps jurisdiction.
So what this all boils down to really, is that Guy is a person of extremes. Extremes can be both horrifically detrimental to authority and also entirely necessary because there’s a little bit of the adversing party built in. Sure, Guy is anti-authoritarian in his role as we know him now…but that same role that makes him the anarchist problem child is the same argument that makes him the most effective “space cop”. He’s going to police, but he’s going to police with his head on a swivel for the exact people he’s working for.
That said, this is all fiction. Fuck the Police.
Thanks so much, Chloe! We appreciate you coming to this parent-teacher conference at such short notice. I think that’s everything we need to know about that Green Lantern – but hey, what about those OTHER Green Lanterns?
Chloe Maveal has written all over the comics internet – including pieces published by Polygon, WomenWriteAboutComics and The MNT. She’s also the Culture Editor-at-Large for NeoText. You can find her on Twitter here!