Binding Trade Post: Guy Gardner Warrior

guy gardner warrior 17 Guy Gardner: Warrior Volume 1 (DC)
Written by Beau Smith & Chuck Dixon, drawn by Mitch Byrd & others
Binding Order: Guy Gardner: Warrior #17-24, 0, 25-28, Green Lantern #60, GGW #29, Action Comics #709, GGW #30-31, Guy Gardner: Warrior Annual #1, Detention Comics #1 & Showcase ’96 #1

This one’s a little bit of a cheat because it’s not an actual trade that you can go out and buy, but a pair of hardcovers I had made through Houchen Bindery. I had gotten some extra cash for Christmas and my birthday that I put aside for a binding project and got to work amassing whichever books I was missing, having my parents bring out stacks from home and getting everything together. I soon focused in on two areas: the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern comics and Guy Gardner: Warrior, both books that had a huge impact on me in my formative comic-reading years that I continue to enjoy this day. I spent a good deal of time designing three different covers for the GL books, but decided to go with the more traditional, solid-colored covers for the Warrior books partially because I was tired of staring at computer screens and Photoshopping like crazy (something that proved very difficult with most of the GGW covers) and because I got a kick out of the idea of seeing my Guy Gardner comics covered in a way that makes them look like classy library books.

For a book that I love so much, I don’t actually remember why I picked up my first issue of Guy Gardner. I think I had read an adventure or two of his in random issues of Justice League I’d acquired along the way (this was before my massive post-Crisis JL collection idea), but wasn’t overly familiar with the character. Anyway, some time in 1994 I picked up Guy Gardner: Warrior #17, 18 or 19 and was instantly hooked. This was towards the end of Chuck Dixon’s run on the character where Guy — who was sporting Sinestro’s old yellow ring at the time and no longer a member of the Green Lantern Corps — was going through all kinds of costume changes from the leather-loving dude in the cover above to a ringless armor-wearer to the eventual morph meister he would soon become. These are all concepts that probably seem silly now, but were like crack to an 11 year old.

So, I’ve been a fan of the character going back nearly 20 years at this point and, aside from some of the Geoff Johns-era Green Lantern Corps, most people don’t seem to get the character. Many have the impression of Guy that he’s just a jerk with powers, but if you’ve read Dixon and Beau Smith’s run on the book, you know that it’s a lot deeper than all that. Sure, he’s kind of a jerk, but these writers also got to the underlying bedrock of the character, examining why he was a jerk and also showing all the ways that he’s so much more than that by getting into his relationship with his mom, dad, brother and on-and-off-again girlfriend Tora (better known as the superheroine and fellow Justice Leaguer Ice).

guy gardner binding

Smith has talked about how his run on the book came about in a two part post over on Westfield Comics’ blog, how it began life as a DCU-hopping adventure featuring Buck Wargo and the Monster Hunters and soon turned into that but with a sci-fi/fantasy element incorporating morphing abilities like the ones seen in the then-popular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series. The books that I put in this volume feature Guy dealing with those new powers, questioning his origins in regards to the newly discovered Vuldarian DNA doing its thing inside him and also setting up his new life which includes funding from Wargo (a scientist-adventurer-millionaire) and a bar called Warriors that’s equal parts hero hangout and headquarters which happens to be the most long-lasting element of this run.

I decided to include a few crossovers like Green Lantern #60 and Action Comics #709, but also the first annual which was part of the Year One line that year. It’s an interesting take with some not so great art that shows how Vuldarians used to do their intergalactic policing back in the day. I also threw in the Detention Comics one-shot which features Guy substitute teaching as well as two other stories featuring Robin (Tim Drake) and Superboy and Showcase ’96 #1 which includes the first part of a two-parter featuring Guy teaming up with Steel where we learn that they used to play football at the same time. Fun stuff. The second half of that story kicks off the next book.

Guy Gardner Warrior 34 Guy Gardner: Warrior Volume 2 (DC)
Written by Beau Smith, drawn by Mitch Byrd, Marc Campos & others
Binding Order: Showcase ’96 #2, GGW #32, Justice League America #101, Hawkman #22, GGW #33, JLA #103, Hawkman #23, GGW #34-36, Darkstars #37, GGW #37-44, GGW Annual #2, & Mr. Miracle #7

Towards the end of the previous book Guy realizes his Vuldarian powers are going out of control because his peoples’ natural enemies the Tormocks have returned to the cosmos. In an effort to save himself and his planet from the impending invasion, Guy goes to the Justice League (who he’s pissed at for their shoddy treatment of him when Ice died fighting the Overmaster) and asks them for help. They agree to help him which launches into a seven part crossover called The Way Of The Warrior that also included Justice League America and Hawkman.

Unfortunately, this story is a bit of a slog because it felt like three different, yet concurring stories being told at the same time featuring some of the same characters, but not necessarily mattering so much to one another. The JLA are dealing with all their internal bickering while also facing off against some space bad guys while Hawkman returns to Thanagar for the first time in a long while. It’s all stuff that makes sense within the contexts of those books, but doesn’t really have much to do with Guy’s mission which eventually gets wrapped up so he can return home, but only after a few more issues where he appears in Darkstars and one where his clone attacks his pals at Warriors. Basically, it felt like it took way more time than it should have to return Guy to the setting and supporting cast that I find so enjoyable. Still, it’s cool seeing Guy fighting alongside fellow badasses like Lobo, Probert, Hawkman and Wonder Woman, even if the latter two appear in guises that might not look familiar to modern readers.

The rest of the run focuses on those elements by doing the traditional superhero stuff and other fun stories like a superhero-filled Christmas party and the end of the book which accumulates most of the bad guys Guy’s faced during his time as Warrior and throws them at him all at once. He also deals with his mother moving in, a possible romance with Ice’s best friend Fire and Buck’s decision to turn Guy into both a cartoon and an action figure. While there were some plot lines that were left dangling as the series came to an end with #44, I still really enjoy what Smith did with his whole run and how he set Guy up to be a bit of a different kind of hero in the DCU. Of course, that didn’t really happen, but he tried.

My book ends with a Legends Of The Dead Earth annual that features tales of post-Guy Vuldarians throughout the galaxy long after the Earth has ceased to be. This one actually makes a really good bookend to the Guy Gardner: Warrior story that I hadn’t read before putting this book together because I never really understood what the point of LOTDE was. Finally, I included Mister Miracle #7 because I saw online that Guy appeared and he does, but it’s not really important to anything. Had this one costed more than a buck or two, I probably would have skipped it, but I was doing okay within my budget and had enough space, so there it is.

Back when I had the first 20-or-so issues of Peter David’s Aquaman bound I actually read through all the issues before sending them out which I actually regretted upon getting the books back from the bindery. I wanted to make sure I still liked the comic, but when I got the actual books in the mail — something that’s always super exciting — I knew I wasn’t going to dive right back in because I just read them a month or so ago. I’d actually read through this run back in college so I knew I still liked it and didn’t go through it again before mailing them off. This time I was able to carry the excitement of getting the package in the mail over to actually reading the books, which I probably did in about a week (subtracting the week we were in Disney and I didn’t have much time to read).

Revisiting Superboy And The Ravers

Back in the mid-90s there were two teen superhero team books from DC that captured my imagination: the Dan Jurgens Teen Titans and Superboy and the Ravers. Both books seemed really cool and featured new, young characters that I figured I could relate to at the ripe old age of 13. However, I was working with a pretty tight budget when it came to comics and could only get issues here and there. As such, I collected most of both short-lived series’. It wasn’t until my pal, CBR mastermind and Cool Kids Table blogger Kiel Phegley sent me a a box o’ stuff that included all 19 issues of SATR that I was able to read the entire series from front to back.

And you know what? It was a surprisingly fun read. The concept might seem kind of silly and very of-the-times today — an intergalactic party that teenagers with super powers can teleport to on a whim centered around one of the most 90s characters around, Superboy — but it actually did some fun stuff with characters who weren’t really being used, based new ones on existing ideas and dealt with issues like coming out of the closet and trying to fit in.

The run was written by Karl Kesel and Steve Mattsson with artists Paul Pelletier (1-9, 13, 14) and Josh Hood (#15-19). It also boasts fill-ins by Aaron Lopresti (#11, 12) and Ramon Bernado (#10, the Meltdown crossover) and even a back up story by Jim Aparo and Todd Nauk pencils on the final issue. In addition to

One of the things that impressed me most about the book is that it actually doens’t focus too much on Superboy in favor of original characters Hero Cruz (who eventually gets the H Dial!), Rex the Wonder Dog, the magnetically powered Aura, the only good guy on Qward Kaliber, New Blood Sparx and alien-created ectoplasmic goo guy Half-Life. The writers do an excellent job balancing each character’s story with the larger one of trying to figure out exactly why the guy throwing this rave, Kindred Marx, is doing so and why intergalactic cops InterC.E.P.T. want to put him out of business. I actually get the feeling that Kesel and Mattsson wanted to create this book with all original characters and maybe editorial liked it but wanted to see a known/popular character thrown in to boost sales.

While re-reading this run I realized that this book might have started my love of the Dial H For Hero concept. I don’t know where else I would have seen it and definitely read some of these issues well before I got into Will Pfeifer’s excellent series HERO. I just think it’s such a neat concept with all kinds of potential. Speaking of which, anyone read the current series? I’m very curious to check it out. I also think this might be one of the first comics I read with a gay character and was surprised at the honest reaction Sparx had when Hero came out to her, difficult as it was to read.

At the end of the day, I had a good time reading this series again, but I don’t want it to sound like I unearthed a forgotten classic. A while ago I realized that there have been teen team comics that appeal to the younger generation reading said comics for decades and that while those books can become all-time favorites for those kids, they might not read well for people from other generations. For me, this is a nice little time capsul that did some interesting things, but I don’t think I’d hand it to a younger or much older reader and expect for them to dig it as much as me.

DUMP, KEEP OR BIND: When it comes to loose comics like this, the question I have after reading through them is first, “Do I want to keep these comics?” followed by, “Do I want to get them bound?” I’ll definitely keep these issues around, but they’re incredibly low on the list of books I want to pay to get put together in a nice hardcover package. I would however consider using them as a test run for trying my hand at home binding. I mean, these issues aren’t that hard to find, I could replace them for cheap if I screwed up the binding and I actually have at least half of them in my collection back home, making SATR a great self-binding project.