April 18, 2013

Cheap Thrills -- GUY GARDNER: WARRIOR #35

This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult.  Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore!  Each week Daniel Elkin heads on out to Empire Comics Vault in Sacramento, CA and grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 25 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his solid quarter.  These are those tales.
March 20, 2013 – paid 25¢ for:
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Phil Jimenez
Pencils by: Joyce Chin
Inks by: John Stokes, Andy Lanning
Colors by: Lee Loughridge
Letters by: Albert de Guzman
Editor: Eddie Berganza

They warned me that if I kept diving into the bargain bin, sooner or later I would have to deal with this. Sure, they said, you can smile your way through all those old Valiant and Eclipse wonks and early Image splodges, for these are the staples of the bin. Sure, you can find lost gems therein that will cause you to question the nature of art. Sure, you can sort through the missteps of passionate independent creators with no discernible talent. You can do all of these things they said and make it out the other side.
But sooner or later, they said, sooner or later if you spend too much time in the bin you are going to have to deal with Guy Gardner: Warrior.
Today, my friends, is that day.
October 1995 found OJ not guilty, a Million Man March on DC, and the death of Kingsley Amis. Mr. Bungle released Disco Volante, Ubisoft released Rayman, and the Clinton Correctional Facility released Tupac Shakur (thanks to Suge Knights $1.4 million bail).
In October 1995 DC Comics released Guy Gardner: Warrior #35, the ramifications of which I now have to deal.
They warned me.

Guy Gardner: Warrior #35 opens with Guy's space ship getting “Craft-Jacked”. I kid you not.
Speaking of kidding, it is “kids” who are doing the “jacking”. Kids whom Guy Gardner describes as, one, “A cigar-chomping Peter Brady” and two, a “babe” with “a voice higher 'n Alvin or The Chipmunks” Guy uses this event as an opportunity to wax philosophical about universal truths:
“People Suck.” I assume that by “people,” Guy, you mean “you” and, if so, then I heartily agree. I do like your sneer, though, Guy. But don't get me started on your hair.
Oy, Joyce Chin, what were you thinking?
Guy decides to take care of the “jacking” situation in his own “special” way. This, of course, means a two page splash, the legs apart crotch-thrust stance, the requisite grimace, and the obligatory KRA-ZRAPP.
Guy's blast destroys the kids' ship and leaves them headed home in an escape pod, ruing the fact that they had “nuffed” their first job.
Then again, really, who didn't “nuff” their first job in some manner. It builds character.
Unfortunately for Guy, though, the “kids” had already done enough enough damage to his “Navi-Computer Systems” to cause him to lose control of his ship. With a series of grimaces and eye-bulges, though, he is able to point it in the direction of a nearby planet.
This, of course, leads to another splash page.
KRA-KOW, indeed.
Guy leaps from the wreckage in order to grimace and pose. In the midst of this he is attacked from behind by some nasty four armed dinosaur person thing with really big teeth. Frowning and flexing, Guy deals with this threat the way gentlemen with a propensity for frowning and flexing do:
As he walks away from the corpse he has created, Guy says: “Rest in pieces, dirtwad. You're just another sucker who caught me on the Wrong Day.” Such is the stuff of the poetry of that time. Grimdark and testosterone laced, Guy Gardner: Warrior is the bard of the 90's – a time best laid to rest, buried deep in the bargain bin. The realities of his stance in our times are too much to bear.
But I digress.
The “plot” of this comic finally begins on page 7. On this random planet upon which he has crashed, Guy finds himself in a bar where he notices that “every piece of slime in this galactic shopping mart is a criminal of one type or another.” 
Aaaahhhh  ... the bar full of alien scum. What an exciting an original idea.
While some four-armed floozie tries to peddle her wares for Guy's enjoyment as a floating turtle with shoes (???) polishes a horn with a fox's tail (not a euphemism, I assure you), Guy learns that there are Green Lanterns for sale at the local open air market.
Not actual lanterns that are the color green, but the ... oh, never mind.
Upon seeing this slave auction, Guy goes all moralistic and shit, stomping the heads of slave traders and freeing the captive Lanterns, one of whom is K'ryssma of Etrea, “a member of the vaunted Green Lantern Corps Honor Guard” who has rainbow butterfly wings and rather large breasts straining to burst from her green bikini top because, you know, uniforms.
Apparently, someone has been rounding up Green Lanterns for the local slave trade. According to K'ryssma this “agent possesses an awesome array of personal offensive weaponry – borne of some yellow power source.”
I'm thinking mustard, but that may only be because this sandwich is so bland.
They head off to a “little mudball” that has “some pretty formidable defenses ... and a slew of lifeforms” towards which Guy launches himself with a “portable transpack, ready to crack some heads,” in order to shut down the Lantern slave trade. On the mudball, though, somehow they are already anticipating Guy's arrival and have activated their “Sonic Shields.”
Manifesting his own “impressive assortment of weaponry,” Guy goes full assault on the shields. The folks on the mudball, though, manipulate things so Guy thinks he has broken through. It's a game of cat-and-mouse, or something like that. Whoever is in charge on the mudball wants Guy to come at him, wants Guy to feel empowered by success, wants Guy's ego blown up so he “can beat it back down when (he) rip(s) off his head!
Guy makes it down to the mudball and starts slinging epithets like “Pus-Bucket” and “Space-Turd” at whoever is pulling the strings behind the release of a “Pawn Squadron” which he summarily takes out with the requisite SHAKOW.  Thereafter he finds scores of ex-Lanterns “trapped in organic chains”. After freeing them from their bonds with grimaces and KACHOOM's, Guy leads them down a tunnel and gives everyone the opportunity to grimace and pose.
One of the Lantern ladies, Brik (whose uniform is expertly torn to perfectly accentuate her breasts of course – ugh), asks Guy where Hal Jordan is. Guy tells her that Jordan became a psycho named Parallax who is now dead. Brix, in an emotional reaction encapsulated by her interjection “AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!,” kills more mudball goons, which makes Guy's eyes go all crackly.
Apparently when his eyes go all crackly, his machoism level rises exponentially and his hair gets all wack-a-doo (dat hair).
Guy begins to wonder why this whole thing “smells like a setup t'me...” when FRRRRZZZZK.
Which leads to the big reveal. On the last page. Of the comic. Here.
Oh my god, there's two of them? Is there really room for just “one, true Guy Gardner”?
I'm “urk”- ing too, Warrior.
Grimacing as well.
Just not posing.
Perhaps, in an ideal world, there is no room for ANY Guy Gardner. Perhaps we are better off putting this behind us, covering it in leaves and loose soil as a cat does with its stool. Perhaps even the bargain bin is sullied with its presence.
Like I said at the outset of this column, they warned me that this day would come. It has, and I have emerged on the other side. Do I dare put thought into justifying the journey? Do I wax philosophic about the themes of duality of ego or the mind/body dichotomy that this book could lead me to? Do I invest any further effort into taking this experience and framing it in a positive light?
Luckily I don't care what any of this means. Back when this book was fresh and I was a younger man, I could have given two tugs of a rat's dick about Green Lanterns or Guy Gardners or Warriors or  Parallaxes (Parallaxi?) or grimacing or posing or grimdarking or any of this shit. Now that I am older and reasonably wiser, I am fully confident that this stance was the right way to go. If art is a reflection of the times that it was made, than 1995 was a fuck of a year and all those slobbering gib-cutters who suckled from this sort of teat were no friends of mine.
If any of you, ANY OF YOU, try to defend Guy Gardner: Warrior as anything other than the absolute fodder of a nation in the grips of its own horror then you are dead to me. DEAD TO ME!

I'm done here.
See you next time.

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