Guy Gardner (Green Lantern, Warrior)


Guy Gardner is a  comic book superhero published by DC Comics. He is a core member of the Green Lantern family of characters, and for a time (late 1980s and early 1990s) was also a significant member of the Justice League family of characters.

He was created by John Broome and Gil Kane (who patterned him after actor Martin Milner ) in Green Lantern #59 (March 1968), although the character was changed significantly in the 1980s by Steve Englehart and Keith Giffen who turned him into a boorish, jingoistic parody of an ultra-macho “red-blooded American male.” This remains the character’s most recognized interpretation to date. The character was not named after the astronaut but after fan Guy H. Lillian III and writer Gardner Fox.

Out of the current 7200 Green Lanterns, Guy is Lantern Number One of the Green Lantern Honor Guard. He has no sector designation, owing to his Honor Guard status; he is able to be in any sector.

Early life

Guy’s roots lie in Baltimore, where he was raised by his parents, Roland (“Rolly”) Gardner and Peggy Gardner. Rolly was an abusive alcoholic who beat Guy repeatedly. Guy worked very hard in school to try to win his father’s approval, yet all his achievements were dismissed out of hand. Instead, Rolly lavished attention and compliments upon Guy’s older brother Mace, who, it seemed to Guy, could do no wrong in their father’s eyes. Guy’s only escape at this time was General Glory comic books, even modeling his bowl haircut on Glory’s sidekick, Ernie.

During his mid-teens, Guy finally decided that nothing he ever did was going to be good enough to win his father’s affection, and as a young boy became a juvenile delinquent. Guy was straightened out from his downward spiral by his older brother, who had become a police officer. Mace’s pressure and advice knocked some sense into Guy, and Guy then went to college, working his way through to support himself, and emerging from the University of Michigan with bachelor’s degrees in education and psychology. One of his closest friends at U of M was John Henry Irons. During his time at Michigan, he also became a nationally renowned football hero, but had to abandon that career due to injuries.

After college, Guy worked as a social welfare caseworker, dealing with prison inmates and their rehabilitation. He abandoned this line of work, however, fearing it brought out his innate more aggressive nature. Moving on, he became a teacher for children with disabilities.

Green Lantern Corps

The appointed Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, an alien named Abin Sur from the planet Ungara, crashlanded on Earth after being mortally wounded by the villain Legion. Sur, knowing his time was limited, commanded his power ring to find someone honest and fearless enough to succeed him. The ring found two potential suitors: Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan. Jordan was nearest to the crash, so he was chosen over Gardner as the one to receive the ring. It was later revealed that a time traveling Booster Gold convinced Gardner to visit his dying father, thus ensuring that Jordan would be the candidate in closest proximity. Gardner was relegated to backup status should anything happen to Jordan.

When Jordan became aware of Gardner’s status as his backup, he went out of his way to set up a chance meeting, and the two became friends. Though Gardner was originally naive to Jordan’s secret identity, he eventually assisted Jordan during his adventures.

During an earthquake, Gardner was seriously injured, hit by a bus while attempting to rescue one of his students. Gardner surprised everyone by recuperating from this debilitating injury, which was credited greatly to his already excellent physical fitness level. During the time he was incapacitated, the Guardians recruited John Stewart to be Jordan’s new backup.

Some time later, during a period where Gardner was performing his duties as a backup Green Lantern, Hal Jordan’s power battery, the source of the ring’s energy, exploded in his face and entrapped him in the Phantom Zone. Jordan and Kari Limbo, Gardner’s girlfriend at the time, both believed him to be dead, and they turned to each other for consolation. As time passed, this relationship deepened and went as far as a wedding, but Gardner was able to interrupt the proceedings by contacting Limbo telepathically. Now alerted to Gardner’s survival, Jordan and Superman were able to discern his whereabouts. Unfortunately, Gardner’s bus accident, the power battery explosion, his assimilation into the zone, and the subsequent torture at the hands of residents of the Phantom Zone had affected his mind. Witnessing his friend Hal Jordan steal his girlfriend had caused even more damage to his already fragile mental state. When Gardner was released from the Phantom Zone, he was diagnosed with brain damage and was comatose for a number of years.

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Guardians of the Universe split into two factions over how to confront the Crisis. A minority faction of six Guardians emulated their former brethren, the Controllers, by recruiting a Green Lantern to directly attack and destroy the forces of the antimatter universe. For reasons unknown, Gardner was revived by the renegade Guardians, given a power ring not tied to the Central Power Battery on Oa, and given a mission. He was to recruit and command the deadliest and most powerful criminals in the universe to launch a strike against the home base of the Anti-Monitor. Gardner believed himself to be “the last true Green Lantern”, superior to all the others, particularly Jordan.

Gardner’s brain damage manifested itself in the form of an arrogant, violent, unstable, and often childish new personality. Five of the renegade Guardians were slain by a wave of antimatter, and the sixth eventually reconciled with the rest of the Guardians. In the meantime, Gardner succeeded in his task of recruiting powerful villains, his new personality frightening even Hector Hammond and the Shark into obedience. Both Hal Jordan and John Stewart prevented Gardner from completing his mission, which would have ultimately destroyed the universe.

Following the Crisis, Gardner was placed under the care of the Guardian-turned-mortal Appa Ali Apsa (who later went on to become the Mad Guardian) for training and to temper his mind. Believing himself to be the last true Green Lantern, Gardner resented this and frequently escaped to Earth to cause trouble for the Green Lanterns there.

After the Guardians’ departure from Oa, Gardner was one of the last Green Lanterns with a working power ring. Eventually Hal Jordan took responsibility for him, and Gardner was free to do as he pleased on Earth. During his tenure as Earth’s Green Lantern, Gardner became a founding member of the Justice League International after the original JLA disbanded during the DC Universe-wide crossover, Legends.

In a famous sequence, Gardner challenged Batman’s position as chairman. Stating he didn’t need his power ring to deal with Batman, he removed it and prepared to strike. Batman, annoyed by Gardner’s taunts, quickly punched him in the face and knocked him out with a single blow. This became a long-standing joke and a method of controlling Gardner’s ego, as all of his Justice League teammates reminded him of his embarrassing loss when necessary. Because of their personality clash, Gardner has gone to great lengths to deride and ridicule Batman, even mooning him from space. Gardner’s animosity towards Batman ultimately turned into a good-natured feud.

Another recurring joke involved Gardner trying to assume the leadership of the Justice League only to be passed over in favor of another character. His longtime rivalry with Hal Jordan was also a recurrent theme.

During his Justice League tenure, Gardner’s personality fluctuated greatly as a result of blows to the head. For a while, he became the polar opposite of his normal self – kind, loving, generous, boyishly innocent, and politically correct to a fault. One issue contained a sequence where he hit his head on the underside of a table, regained his old persona, and then hit his head a second time as he stood up, and reverted back again.

Gardner was romantically involved with his fellow Leaguer Ice, their dates being some of the most memorable moments of the series. He had actually taken the time to learn some rudimentary Norwegian, which was Ice’s native tongue. Their relationship ended with her death at the hands of the Overmaster, but recent events have led to her resurrection. Instead of quickly renewing their relationship, Ice asked for time to acclimate. Gardner agreed, and this factored into his decision to move to Oa. He glanced tenderly at Ice’s sleeping form before leaving Earth, leaving her a note of his intentions.

Guy Gardner Reborn

Eventually, forced to forfeit his Green Lantern ring after a grudge fight with Jordan, Gardner set out on a quest to regain his power and identity. After tricking Lobo into assisting him, they first invaded Qward, then with the armies of Qward to Oa. There, Gardner acquired the yellow power ring of Sinestro from Oa’s Crypt of the Green Lantern Corps (Guy Gardner Reborn #1–3), and his own comic series began with him using that ring. The yellow ring didn’t use a battery to recharge, instead needing to be used against Green Lanterns’ power rings to restore its power, which Gardner discovered by accident when a member of the Corps fought him while his ring was powerless.

As the yellow ring of Sinestro spoke Sinestro’s native language (Korugarian) Gardner was unable to communicate with the ring. This was a recurring joke in the series, though it seemed to somehow understand him, translating alien languages into English.

Unfortunately for Gardner, the finicky ring frequently cut out on him when he needed it, forcing him to rely on his mind to get out of scrapes. During this period, Guy managed to stop a mysterious alien hive mind known as the draal from taking over the Green Lantern Corps by creating clones of various members. Unfortunately, the process of cloning him forced him to relive his life. Gardner managed to taint this process by planting false memories into the clone. Strangely, after this process was complete, Gardner’s personality seemed more subdued and evidence of his original personality came through. Guy ended up stopping the clone, but had only worn the yellow ring for a short while before it was destroyed and absorbed by Hal Jordan, who had become infected by the entity known as Parallax, during the Emerald Twilight storyline.

In the JLA: Classified-based miniseries “I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League”, Guy assisted the Super Buddies and was revealed to have kept his yellow ring. (This story may not be canon, due to the conflict with Gardner having no ring in Green Lantern: Rebirth.)

Warrior years

When Hal Jordan, under the influence of Parallax, destroyed the Green Lantern Corps, Guy Gardner led a group of heroes to Oa to find out what had happened. In battling Parallax, Guy Gardner’s ring is destroyed and he was forced to find an alternate means to acquire power.

On Earth, Ganthet first came to Guy Gardner to offer him the last Green Lantern power ring. When Gardner refused, Ganthet decided to entrust it to Kyle Rayner. (Green Lantern: Secret Files & Origins #1)

On an expedition to the Amazon with a rich entrepreneur, Gardner finds a chalice in a cave. He drinks from it, and becomes Warrior. Gardner discovers that his past was not what he thought it was. He is apparently the descendant of a space-traveling race called the Vuldarians. This discovery eventually leads him to discover new powers within himself. These powers allow him to resume his role as a superhero. He also establishes a superhero theme bar called Warrior’s as both a source of income and a base between his adventures.

His early days as Warrior saw him struggling with his newfound powers. He had difficulty changing his body into any weapon, and his transformations often caused him pain. After a breakdown that led to a confrontation with Superman and Supergirl, with some soul-searching help from his supposed ancestor, Gardner was finally able to use his new powers to form most non-energy-based weapon from his body, as well as absorb some forms of energy and redirect them through his various ‘weapons’. Another ability, his capability to use the knowledge of warriors from across space and time, was rarely used and mostly forgotten.

It is during this time that Gardner fought against Dementor, also claimed to be a product of Vuldarian breeding. Dementor’s father had raped a Vuldarian woman. Dementor was eventually sent to Hell, where he eventually revealed that he was the one responsible for Gardner’s constant personality shifts (in a sense, retconning Gardner’s history, explaining why his personality changed drastically over the years). In the last issues he finally dealt with his “family”, as well as revealing another side of his Vuldarian powers, the ability to heal mortal wounds.

After the “Warrior” series was canceled, Gardner continued to appear in the DC Universe; most notably as a recurring character in the Green Lantern book during Kyle Rayner’s run. It was thought he was killed during the Our Worlds at War crossover. However, he was later discovered to be trapped in a pocket of Hell in General Zod’s country of Pokolistan. After freeing himself, his Warrior powers were apparently enhanced. He declared it his job to do less ethical things heroes like Superman couldn’t. However, this new direction was short lived.

Return to the Corps

During the 2005 miniseries Green Lantern: Rebirth, Gardner’s Vuldarian DNA is strangely overwritten by his human DNA when Parallax possesses Gardner and several Green Lanterns. Hal Jordan’s ring splits in two and Gardner’s ring is restored to him. Eventually, Parallax is defeated by the combined effort of all five active Green Lanterns, including Gardner. The Guardians then select Gardner as one of the senior officers of the new Green Lantern Corps.

In the 2005–2006 miniseries Green Lantern Corps: Recharge (written by Dave Gibbons), the Guardians assign Gardner to be one of the Corps’ three main instructors, along with Kilowog and Kyle Rayner. The trio is responsible for the training of the new Corps, to which the Guardians intend to name 7,200 members. Gardner is not at all appreciative of his new role, and when he complains to the Guardians, they tell him that success in training new recruits could lead to him being given a new position.

Gardner plays a significant role in defeating the Spider Guild attack on Oa in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge. Discovering that trainee Soranik Natu has disappeared into the forbidden Vega star system, which the Guardians’ pact with the Psions of Vega forbids Green Lanterns from entering, Gardner and Kyle Rayner lead a rescue mission in direct violation of Oan policy. Once there, the Lanterns discover the Spider Guild nest and determine that its next target is the Oan sun. Returning just as the attack commences, Gardner gathers the frightened trainee Green Lanterns and rallies them with a speech that impresses even his long time rival, Hal Jordan. Gardner’s performance in repelling the attack results in his promotion to Lantern #1 of the Green Lantern Honor Guard, a position of authority over other Lanterns. In this new role, Gardner is expected to “think outside the box” and “do the jobs other Lanterns can’t”, a function well-suited to his irascible personality.

Infinite Crisis and One Year Later

In his new role as Lantern #1, Guy leads the Corps in the defense of Oa against Superboy-Prime, creating a wall of energy to slow the rampaging teen and calling a “code 54”, authorizing the use of extreme force. Guy supervises the final capture and imprisonment of Superboy-Prime, locking him in a red Sun-Eater provided by Donna Troy and organizing a constant watch of fifty Lanterns to keep him imprisoned.

Guy spends the entire “missing year” following Infinite Crisis doing missions for the Guardians without shore leave (though he is infrequently seen on Earth in the 52 weekly limited series, it should be assumed he has sneaked away from the Guardian’s watch). When he’s finally granted some time off one year later, his relaxation is cut short by an attack by a grudge-holding Bolphunga the Unrelenting. Soon after, Guy assisted Hal Jordan on an unsanctioned mission to the Manhunter homeworld, Biot. Through Hal and Guy’s efforts, several long-lost lanterns (including Arisia, Chaselon, Jack T. Chance, Graf Toren, Hannu, Ke’Haan, Laira, and Boodikka) were freed from imprisonment by the Cyborg Superman. Upon returning from the mission, Guy was punished by the Guardians and forced to endure one month as one of the fifty Lanterns on “Prime Duty.” Lanterns of the Honor Guard, like Guy, are allowed to break the rules three times before expulsion.

According to Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns in a recent Newsarama interview, Prime wouldn’t be escaping under Guy’s watch. “Not at all. That’s ridiculous. Anyone who’s read Guy Gardner for the last two years in Green Lantern or in [Green Lantern] Corps knows that he’s a much better, stronger character than that. And even in the old Giffen stuff, he would probably break some rules, taunt the other heroes, and drink a beer or two, but he wouldn’t be that much of an idiot. He was never that much of an idiot, and certainly not with what I’m doing with him, or with what Dave Gibbons is doing with him in Corps. He has his moments, and he’s a really fun character, but he’s definitely not going to be a moron. His role is not DCU Moron. His role is DCU Shitkicker.

The Corpse

Guy was briefly part of the Corps’ Black Ops division. Dubbed “The Corpse”, members forsake their rings for stealthier powers provided by the Guardians. Guy took part in one mission as part of this secretive unit. He was tasked with locating Von Daggle, a Durlan who was formerly in charge of the Corpse. Gardner relayed a message from the Guardians, informing Daggle that he was reinstated. From there, Daggle took command of Gardner, leading him to the homeworld of the Dominators, a race of superscientists with a grudge against Earth. Together, they defeated a super-evolved Dominator, though the Corpse’s use of lethal force did not sit well with Guy. Gardner informed Daggle that he couldn’t be a part of his crew and Daggle wiped his memory, musing that “humans never make the cut.”

Sinestro Corps War

In the storyline Sinestro Corps War, Superboy-Prime and Cyborg Superman escape imprisonment when the Sinestro Corps attacks Oa, killing the guards on Prime Duty. Guy, along with fellow Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart are captured by Parallax during battle and brought to Qward. Guy and John Stewart are then held prisoner by Lyssa Drak who forces them to relive tragedies in their lives. Hal manages to defeat Lyssa and free Guy and John from their nightmare. In the skirmish following their escape, Parallax nearly breaks Gardner’s neck. Meanwhile, the Lanterns recover Ion from the leader of the Sinestro Corps, the Anti-Monitor. Guy, Hal, and John then return to the positive matter universe, only to find Earth under siege by a truly massive and fast-approaching battalion of Sinestro corpsmen.

As the Sinestro Corps’ attack gets underway, the Cyborg Superman and Superman-Prime attack Superman, while Hal confronts Parallax just before he’s about to kill Hal’s family. In an attempt to free Kyle from the Parallax entity, John orders Guy to retrieve the painting Kyle mentioned just before his abduction. When Guy’s flying over Mount Rushmore on the way to pick up the painting, the Sinestro Corps ambush him. Seconds later the Green Lantern Corps arrive for backup, their power rings now allowing them to utilize lethal force against the Sinestro corpsmen effectively saving Guy. Guy continues his mission and presents the painting to Parallax. Hal is able to use the painting and their combined willpower to help Kyle overcome his fears and expel Parallax. Parallax, now in his original insectoid form, is captured by former Guardians Ganthet and Sayd. Realizing the incredible strength of will displayed by each of earth’s GLs, Parallax is split into four pieces and imprisoned within the power batteries of Hal, John, Guy, and Kyle. It is seen that each lantern is distinctive to its bearer and that Guy’s lantern proudly sports a decal of his alma mater, University of Michigan. Ganthet gives Kyle a new power ring and asks him to become a Green Lantern again, to which he happily agrees. Within the finale of the Sinestro Corps War, Guy was the one who tossed Warworld at the Anti-Monitor in an attempt to defeat him, but it was Superman-Prime who was able to finish him off. Prior to this, Guy was infected by the Sinestro Corps’ deadly alien virus named Despotellis. He is soon cured by the Green Lantern Corps’ own intelligent smallpox virus, Leezle Pon.

Within the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps War, Guy was finally reunited with Ice, a recently resurrected former girlfriend. Despite Ice’s uncertainty as to the wisdom of reviving the old romance, Guy’s professions of adoration seemed sufficient to convince her to meet him for a proper date on the same spot exactly one month later.

After debating with himself about where to live, Guy decides to move to Oa, and set up a bar and restaurant called “Guy’s Place”. After much cajoling, Salaak agrees to the proposition. Before leaving Earth, Guy leaves Ice a note.

Powers and abilities

Power rings

Guy Gardner was trained to use a Green Lantern power ring, which is only limited by the user’s will power. He later acquired Sinestro’s Qwardian power ring, which was later revealed to be based on the bearer’s control of fear. He used both for basic Lantern abilities including constructs, flight, and energy projection. In Green Lantern: Rebirth #6 it is mentioned that Guy Gardner’s ring is constantly sparking with energy, as if unable to contain the power of his will.

Vuldarian powers

Guy’s Vuldarian powers included limited shapeshifting abilities in which he could create weapons out of his body. At first, these transformations caused him pain and he was unable to shrink from his 7-foot height. During the return of Parallax, he suffered a metahuman power discharge and his Vuldarian abilities went into recession. Coincidentally, when he awoke he was near Hal Jordan’s power ring which has the ability to duplicate itself. Gardner once more had a power ring, and following the return of the Guardians of the Universe, he was once again a Green Lantern.

 




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