Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Green Lantern Corps 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Green Lantern Corps 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Peter: What I’ve appreciated thus far from the zero issues is they’ve avoided retelling the same old origin stories you’ve heard a dozen times before. There’s no point seeing Batman’s parents getting shot again, Superman arriving on Earth in a rocket again, the Flash cooking in lightning and chemicals again, or Green Lantern coming upon a dying alien with a ring…again. If anyone’s origins are ripe for revisiting, it would be those of the “other” Green Lanterns in the DCU; I mean, they all began their careers playing second fiddle to Hal Jordon. Tomasi takes a fresh look at Guy and his family life, and it really turns out quite well.
Guy Gardner grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. There has been a Gardner in blue working the streets of Baltimore since, well, forever. Guy broke the mold, he didn’t want to be a cop. His brother is a cop, and now his younger sister has just graduated from the academy. Guy shows up at the graduation, and is met with some warm love from his siblings, but the cold shoulder from his father. His brother tries to help him out, gives him a pair of tickets to the Orioles to maybe get some father-son bonding going, but that doesn’t go over well and Guy and his drunk father end up having an argument. Guy hears that his brother is in trouble over his father’s police scanner and rushes to the scene. He finds his brother, Gerard, and his partner, Marcus under fire from drug dealers. Marcus is dead, and Gerard is hurt. Guy bursts on the scene and fights off a bunch of the gang members with everything from a motorcycle to a cane, grabs the wheel of the cruiser, and speeds away. As he is heading to the hospital, a Green Lantern ring shows up and helps him escape. On Oa, Guy is put through the paces by Kilowog. He shows his usual level of respect for authority. During training, Guy and several other trainees are attacked by Xar, who kills most of the other trainees. Guy defeats him and puts him in a Sciencell. Kilowog gives Guy his badge. Guy uses his flair to redesign his own costume, and meets Hal Jordon.
This is quite the Tarantino of an origin story, but it’s really good. It honors the old origin of Guy but tells a different story. This is in fact, probably the best jumping on point that I have read. It can be read as a stand-alone story that introduces Guy Gardner, but doesn’t have any particular connection to the ongoing story of GL Corps. That’s okay though, since it shows Guy some real love. Guy has been been playing a bit of second fiddle to John in the storyline, but it’s nice to see him in the spot light.
Tomasi totally ignores some classic Guy elements. The original origin for Guy is that if Abin Sur couldn’t have found Hal, he would have selected Guy. In fact, Hal and Guy were even options according to the ring, and really, Hal got the ring because he was simply closer to the crash site. That isn’t touched on at all — which I’m totally okay with. The thing that it doesn’t cover, however, is how Earth can have 4 (now 5) lanterns. That would have been the most useful thing to get out of the zero issues in terms of the Corps.
Pre-New 52, Guy has a pretty interesting history with the Corps. He was in, then he wasn’t, then he was, then he wasn’t. There was a lot of back-and-forth, yellow power rings and alien DNA powers that really got confusing. Tomasi sticks to the story he wants to tell, which isn’t so much about Guy’s origins, but Guy’s family. He focuses on Guy’s attitude. He makes his own decisions, doesn’t take orders very well, is headstrong, but at the same time, cares about the people around him.
His family is very important to him, even if his father doesn’t want to ever talk to him. Sure he’s got an attitude, but he knows what’s important. It’s interesting to think that later, when he is a veteran member of the Corps the Guardians take over the role his father plays in his life; overbearing, and stubborn, while John and Kilowog become like his siblings.
I hope that Guy’s family will come back into play at some point in the future. It would be nice to see what they are doing now, and how Guy becoming a Lantern has affected their relationships. Maybe we’ll see them in the Corps installments of The Third Army because I bet Guy is going to end up in some shit. Shelby, what did you think of this look into Guy’s family life and past? Am I the only one that feels like between this, New Guardians, and Green Lantern that John is getting the shaft of the backstory? I actually know less about his origins than Guy’s or Kyle’s or Hal’s or hell, even the new guy.
Shelby: I thought this issue was pretty good. I enjoyed seeing the pre-Corps Guy a lot. Of all the Earth Lanterns right now, he might be the most interesting. John is upright and uptight, all about morals and justice and the good of the group. He’s been called the conscience of the Corps, and he fits that role well; I just don’t think it’s a particularly interesting role. His origins as a Marine-turned-architect are so apparent in his character now, I don’t really feel the need to see them again. Guy is the asshole with a heart of gold, arrogant, brash, etc…He’s never been my favorite — I much prefer the sensitive artist Kyle. But, the fact that Guy has a hard candy shell with a melty, nougaty center makes him an interesting character, and I’m glad Tomasi focused on him for this issue.
Even though I liked this issue, there were a couple of sticking points for me, plot-wise. The biggest one is Guy’s dad, specifically, the way Tomasi portrayed the argument between the two of them: Mr. Gardner just passed out, mid-sentence.
Come on, how much Scotch does it take to fall asleep mid-disapproving speech to your son? I know we needed a way for Guy to hear the police scanner and his father not hear it, but just falling asleep after not acting drunk at all? Why couldn’t he have just hobbled his way upstairs and told Guy he never wanted to see him again, something like that? I may be nit-picking on this one, but I just didn’t believe it.
Like Peter, now I really want to know more about the Gardner family. Did Gerald suffer an existential crisis after begging for his life at gun point like a regular person instead of remaining stoic to the end like his hard-boiled dad? Is Gloria even more giddy, jump-up-and-down proud of her second oldest brother now that he’s a UNIVERSE beat cop? How often does Guy rub it in his dad’s face, and just how much does his dad hate it? Tomasi opened a can of worms with this glimpse into Guy’s family life; as excited as I am for the Third Army, First Lantern, and other numbered elements of the upcoming story event, I wouldn’t mind just one more issue of Guy and his family, just to see how the story ends.For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?