Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Classics - Guy Gardner Warrior #20

   All the rumpus about the recently pulled cover of Batgirl (which depicted her bound and at the mercy of The Joker) reminded me of a similar incident from 1994 that most readers may not know about.

    It happened in this issue of Guy Gardner Warrior - then in the hands of writer Beau Smith.

   As he once told the story, he and artist Mitch Byrd worked on this issue, but his editors weren't happy with the first two pages, which depicted something you hadn't seen in a comic up to that point - namely, Wonder Woman getting beaten badly by several monstrous aliens.

   "You can't do that with Wonder Woman," Beau was told. His response: "Why not? You wouldn't have said anything if it was Superman or Batman getting beaten up. Several other heroes are taking a beating in that scene - why should she be any different?"

   The editors had to admit that he had a point - and the scene was left in place (and I have to admit, it's still pretty shocking today).

   The story was smack in the middle of a difficult time for the comic. The Green Lantern Corps was being destroyed over in GL's comic, as Hal Jordan had gone mad and become a mass murderer. (How much did I hate that storyline? With a white-hot intensity.)

   So the creative team had to come up with a different power source for Guy. For a while (this issue included) he wielded one of Sinestro's yellow power rings, but that would eventually go away.

   The real treat this issue is the interaction between Guy and the assorted hero guest stars. Beau was one of the few writers (Chuck Dixon was another) who could properly write Guy as a tough-as-nails, put-up-with-no-guff, straight-talking, kind-of-a-jerk-but-a-hero-throughout kinda (ahem) guy.

   (He's also good-hearted under all that gruff, as a quick scene with Ice shows.)

   The art by Mitch Byrd and Dan Davis is terrific - powerful, with an organic, larger-than-life, pyrotechnic take to the life-and-death battle that faces this group of heroes.

   As much as I hated what was going on in Green Lantern's book, I loved the story unfolding here, as Guy Gardner became a hero in his own right - not just an imitation GL.

   Great fun - I'm amazed DC hasn't collected these yet!

Grade: A



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