DC Histories: Guy Gardner

Welcome back to DC Histories, the weekly series that chronicles the histories of various characters in the DC Universe. If you’re just getting started in the New 52 and don’t know squat about what has come before, this should bring you up to speed. If you’re an old timer who has been reading these stories for years, feel free to nod along as you read. For all of you somewhere in between, here’s hoping you learn a little something too.

This week, we’re talking about Guy Gardner.

Guy Gardner had a 50/50 shot at being the first human Green Lantern of Sector 2814. When Abin Sur crashed his spaceship off the coast of California, the ring found two potential replacement Lanterns. Hal Jordan just happened to be closer to the crash site, so he was selected. This meant that Guy Gardner was Hal’s back up, though neither of them knew it at the time.

During the late ’80s and early ’90s, Hal’s early years were retold in two miniseries. In the second one, it was revealed that the Guy and Hal first met when Hal had been arrested for drunk driving and Guy was his caseworker.

From Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #1 (1991)

Guy would be shown to have issues controlling his rage. During Guy’s later solo series, it would be shown that Guy’s father was physically abusive towards him when he was younger. Beatings were a fairly common occurrence, many of which were administered after Guy was found to be lacking in some ability that his older brother was perceived to have had. This caused Guy to develop anger issues and also gave Guy an inferiority complex.

This anger problem would show itself early. After finding himself in the middle of a prison riot, Guy watched as the riot’s instigator murdered a kind prisoner in cold blood. Even after the riot was subdued, Guy’s emotions got the better of him.

From Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #5 (1991)

Eventually, Guy would get his own Green Lantern ring. Hal Jordan seemed to constantly be away, off somewhere in the cosmos fighting threats for which Earthlings had no context.  Guy would mostly stay on Earth and deal with its many problems. It was during this period that Guy began his career as a member of the Justice League.

Guy had a way of getting under people’s skin. The only requirement of being a Green Lantern is that one has to be able to overcome great fear. Nowhere in the charter does it state that someone can’t be an asshole. And make no mistake about it, Guy could be an asshole, especially when he perceived he was being criticized.

Perhaps the most famous example of this was early on in Guy’s membership in the Justice League. Guy balked at the idea of Batman being in charge. Assuming he was the best at everything, Guy challenged Batman to a ring-less fist fight in order to see who should lead the League.

From Justice League (Vol. 1) #5 (1987)

Moral: Never challenge Batman to a fist fight.

The impulse to defend any perceived slight would get him into trouble time and again. It didn’t matter how big his opponents were, Guy would start a fight in a heartbeat. Occasionally, he’d think things through a bit more.

From Adventures of Superman #473 (1990)

It really needs to be said here that Guy was never just a walking joke. More often than not, he could back up his bluster.

Even after all the adventures he had and all the world saving he did, in many people’s minds he still wasn’t the “real” Green Lantern. The “real” one always would always be Hal Jordan, the first public member of the Green Lantern Corps. So, finally, Guy confronted Hal and engaged in another fist fight. This time, the loser would lose his ring and the winner would be the official Green Lantern of Sector 2814.

Guy lost. He was no longer a Green Lantern.

From Guy Gardner: Reborn #1 (1992)

Contrary to what he’d say over the next few years, Guy hated to leave the Corps. The Corps gave him purpose and drive in his life. Leaving it left him rudderless. However, Guy remembered a power ring that didn’t require the Guardians of the Universe to power it. He’d have all the powers of a Green Lantern but he wouldn’t have to answer to anyone. Guy needed Sinestro’s yellow ring.

Sinestro was dead at this point, as has been the case for seemingly every character in the DCU at one point or another. His body was held in a crypt on Oa where the Guardians could keep an eye on it. It was there that Guy was able to get the yellow power ring and get back in the super hero game.

From Guy Gardner: Reborn #3 (1992)

This was all before the idea of the Sinestro Corps and the other colored Lanterns ever came into being. I sort of wish current writers played with Guy being a Yellow Lantern, since he was one for about two years. I don’t believe it’s ever been brought up in modern continuity. Let me know in the comments below if I missed a reference to this fact.

Even with the new autonomy that the yellow ring gave him, Guy still missed the Corps. For example, when he went up against an Eclipso-possessed Superman, Guy couldn’t help but quote his familiar oath.

From Adventures of Superman Annual #4 (1992)

Guy would keep the yellow ring. He stayed with the Justice League, fighting alongside them against villains like Doomsday and Doctor Destiny. Things would change for Guy again when Hal Jordan began calling himself Parallax.

I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say, Hal lost his grip on reality, internalized all the power in the Green Lanterns’ central power battery, indirectly killed all the Guardians of the Universe, and changed the face of the DCU. A future DC History will chronicle all of this at some point. When Guy tracked Hal down to bring him to justice, Hal beat him down. Instead of simply taking Guy’s ring, this time Hal just destroyed it. Guy was depowered. Again.

From Guy Gardner: Warrior #21 (1994)

At this point, you could almost see the desperation on the faces of the people working on Guy’s solo title. Suddenly, their main character was without super powers and there wasn’t a way for him to get new ones in any reasonable fashion. So, they went the “unreasonable” route.

Oh, did you know that Guy happened to have an alien race called the Vuldarians somewhere in his distant family tree? No? Well, he did. Don’t question it too much. After drinking from some mystic Amazon water, Guy’s latent Vuldarian abilities came out. These abilities included being able to expand his muscle mass, heal quickly, and grow weapons from his very skin. Guy was turned into this:

From Guy Gardner: Warrior #37 (1995)


Guy would be stuck like this for years. Luckily, he didn’t appear much after his solo series was canceled and when he did, he was mostly presented as the owner of a super hero bar named ‘Warriors.’ His Vuldarian abilities were very much downplayed. That was a good thing.

Years later, Hal Jordan once again was on the side of the angels. During the course of that change, Guy was given another Green Lantern ring. He loved it. Guy was back to being a Green Lantern. He, and his readers, couldn’t be happier.

From Green Lantern: Rebirth #6 (2005)

Though he was again a Green Lantern, Guy wouldn’t be Earth’s Green Lantern. The Guardians wanted him to be a trainer on Oa. Alongside fellow veterans Kilowog and Kyle Rayner, Guy would train the several thousand new Corps recruits.  He didn’t take it well at first.

From Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1 (2005)

Guy eventually calmed down and took the job. And he was good at it. He’d stick with the Corps on Oa for the next several years.

So where is Guy in the New 52? Well, he’s a couple different places. He’s still in Green Lantern Corps, helping save the universe. But he’s also back in Justice League International, helping save the world. He’s still the best damn short-tempered Lantern in the Corps.  The man’s dedicated to helping others, even after all the times that he’s been beaten down in the past 20 years. Guy will always get back up. And that’s why we like him.

Jeff Reid is a librarian who has finally found a good use for his many longboxes. Feel free to follow his ramblings on Twitter where he’s much less likely to speak of himself in the third person.


  1. Warrior needs to come back. Warrior needs to come back right NOW!

  2. Guy Garner Green Lantern = Best Green Lantern

  3. Unreservedly my favorite Lantern. Guy stands in stark contrast to Hal Jordan. Hal might as well be the Beige Lantern.

  4. “I sort of wish current writers played with Guy being a Yellow Lantern, since he was one for about two years. I don’t believe it’s ever been brought up in modern continuity.”

    I think during the recent “War of the Green Lanterns”, it was mentioned being the reason why Guy wasn’t affected by Paralax’s infection of the central battery. Unless Guy wore a Sinestro Corp ring sometime in the past few years, and I don’t remember.

    • Yeah, and I don’t remember that happening. He put on a Red ring but I don’t remember yellow ever being on Guy during GJ’s run. Good catch.

    • Ah. I haven’t read the War of the Green Lanterns storyline yet. Thanks for the info. I’ll look for that when I read the trade.

    • The Sinestro Corps storyline included a mention of Guy using Sinestros ring “for awhile” … In the chapter where Hal was wielding several yellow rings. Hal and John Stewart immediately started to bahe Guy for his fashion sense at the time, I recall…


    • I’m pretty sure the reason why Guy wasn’t affected by Krona on WotGL was because of his previous encounter with Parallax in “Rebirth”.

  5. I’m always hypnotized by the perspective of Guy’s feet in the panel where he’s been knocked out by Batman. There’s just something about the space between the soles of his boots and the fact that the placement of the left foot totally obscures the sliver of background you expect to see in that space.

    #overthinking it

  6. Great read. This DC Histories series is a great idea. Looking forward to seeing more.

  7. Nice article. Like most characters in any universe there are periods in their timeline where you’re like WTF? Writers were doing a bit too much Chronic.

    Guy Gardner shows it’s ok to be jock asshole superhero but don’t expect Batman to like it 🙂

  8. Guy’s so cool. I love that he could be a high school football coach. He’s crass and loud and talks shit, but he’s still a good guy. There just seems to be a lot more depth to him then Hal, Kyle, or Jon Stewart.

  9. The Warrior stuff was pretty bad, and Jeff is absolutely right about the creators sort of searching for how to keep Guy a viable player in the midst of all the Green Lantern reshuffling, but there were some cool bits in there. I liked Guy’s depiction as a real blue collar type. The writer (Beau Smith, I think) had a decent handle on keeping Guy separate in personality from other heroes, pulling back from one-note-joke the character had become after his depiction in Justice League (which is still an awesome depiction, but not to sustain a solo book).

    Also: his bar, Warriors, was cool.

  10. Guy Gardner Warrior was actually really enjoyable during the Emerald Twilight cross-over. And even when the Vuldarian stuff started it wasn’t so bad. He only grew a red suit of armor identical to his Yellow one. But then Zero Hour came along and Hal “Superboy-wall-punched” Guy into that psuedo-indian form. I think that series eventually even brought in an evil clone of the bowl-cut Gardner to explain some of his less-Warrior like moments in the past.

  11. Guy has always been my favorite, too. If I recall correctly, he had a cameo in the Green Arrow/Green Lantern series, too, as a teacher or coach or something like that. He was with a bus full of kids.

  12. is that first panel misprinted? Jeff said Guy was Hal’s caseworker but the word balloon makes it look like Hal is the caseworker… that one threw me for a loop lol

    also, was the whole “guy had a 50/50 shot at being GL” thing a retcon? and when was it added?

    these have been great so far, keep up the good work!

    • Wow. My eye somehow skipped over that misprinted word balloon for the past twenty years. It is coming out of the wrong person’s mouth. Guy is definitely the caseworker in that story.

      I’m not sure the first time that the 50/50 chance came up. Sadly, I haven’t read Guy’s first appearance from 1968. However, I do know it was brought up most recently in Booster Gold Vol. 2 #2 from 2007, so you can find it there. Also, it came up occasionally in his appearances in the 1990s, so it wasn’t a Geoff Johns retcon.

    • definitely remember that part in Booster Gold, that was a great issue

    • The 50/50 shot was indeed a retcon… made way back in GL v2 59. It also retconned the part in Showcase 22 where Hal supposedly came up with the Green Lantern name.


  13. Didn’t Guy suffer some severe head trauma and brain injury too that made him more of an overt asshole?

    • Guy’s personality shifts were played for laughs early on in Justice League International. After the Batman “One Punch,” Guy became a goody-two-shoes until Lobo landed on his head in issue #19, which caused him to revert back to his old ways.

    • Did Guy exist in the Silver Age? I recall someone mentioning “Nice Guy” was an homage to how he used to be in the Silver Age, before they decided to change him into an asshole. Been meaning to check if its true, but I always forget.

    • He comes in just at the tail end of the Silver Age.

    • The pre-Crisis history involved Guy being caught in an explosion from Hal’s battery, which was damaged by one-time villain the Crumbler (GL 116), which sent him into the Phantom Zone, where he was brainwashed by General Zod and the other PZ villains (GL122). He was then snagged by Sinestro into Qward to lure Hal Jordan to another duel. Hal saved Guy, but he was comatose from the ordeal (GL 123). A rebel faction of the Guardians later revived Guy in order to make him a GL during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event (GL 189-200). The coma supposedly caused the new personality.

      The post-crisis story changed slightly. The power battery explosion sent him directly to Qward and rendered him comatose (Secret Origins v2 7).


  14. Wow. I never knew about the origins of Guy until now. Great digging by you as always Jeff.

  15. Bill Burr was born to play Guy Gardener

  16. I dunno why, but now I’m kinda itching for the Corpse to return in some fashion. Would be interesting since they had an Indigo tint to their costumes.
    I loved that short story line. Keith Champagne’s always been an under-rated and under-used talent to me.
    Plus, I just liked Guy as a special opps agent.

  17. “Good afternoon everyone, hope we haven’t — is that Guy on the floor . . ?”

  18. Oh and thanks for starting these History articles; they were a great idea. I knew some of the origin of Gardner, but a lot of this, especially from the period I dropped out of comics, was new to me. I look forward to seeing who’s profiled next . . .

  19. All the other lanterns tend toward mopey and dramatic way too often. Guy will always be my favorite, despite Warrior.

    • Me, too. He used to say he was the one, true GL, and to me he is. Okay, maybe Hal is number one, but Guy is the most bad ass.

      And I hated the Warrior crap. It was so bad. They took a character I loved and ruined it. It looked liked he came out of DC’s Bloodlines. Very happy those days have long since past.

      The yellow ring was okay, though.

  20. I’m I correct in thinking that Warrior Guy pulled swords out from under his arm skin in those panels? That…is retarded.

  21. There are a lot of Gardner fans that didn’t know he was Hal’s caseworker…the little things that fall through the cracks.