Thursday, October 22, 2009

Green Lantern #59: Guy Gardner

This story starts with Green Lantern visiting Oa, the planet of the Guardians, for a seminar in advanced Green Lanternship. Hal learns that the Guardians have a machine that can read the minds of dead people. They offer to show him the last thoughts of Abin Sur, the alien Green Lantern who crashed on Earth and offered Hal Jordan the chance to take his place. Abin Sur had two requirements for a suitable replacement. The candidate must be honest and he must be utterly without fear.

To Hal's surprise (and ours) it turns out there were two possibilities: Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. But as Jordan was on the West Coast, while Gardner was back east, Abin Sur chose Hal. We get the familiar origin sequence:

Hal is intrigued. What would have happened if Guy Gardner had been chosen as Green Lantern? Well, funny you should ask, because the Guardians just happen to have a "What If" machine:

Of course the same type of machine features in two of my favorite Silver Age stories, The Second Life of Batman from Batman #127, and Superman's Other Life, from Superman #132.

Gardner's home base is "East City" continuing DC's coy tradition of fictional town names. Guy's occupation is quite a bit different from Hal's:

They both sure like to punch! We found he would have battled pretty much the same crime gallery: Sonar, the Shark, Black Hand, Dr. Polaris, and Sinestro are shown. But when the Gardner GL returns to Earth following his initial meeting with the Guardians, he takes a slightly different route, and this is where history starts to diverge. He encounters two robots battling, one orange and the other blue, and learns from them that they come from a planet where the Yellow Plague killed off all the adults, and where the children do not age normally, so they have divided into two warring factions.

When Guy first visits the planet he is controlled by the mental powers of the blue faction, but during a battle with the "Orangers" he breaks free and manages to shield his mind from control. After that, it's a pretty simple matter for the gym teacher to get the kids to behave properly, especially since his ring ensures they will start to mature.


Guy Gardner must summon another worthy individual, who just happens to be Hal Jordan. Again, this perfectly echoes the Batman and Superman tales, both of which ended with Bruce wearing a cowl and Kal in a cape.

There is a very nice bit at the end. Hal asks for permission to form a friendship with Earth's other Green Lantern and they hit it off after meeting at Guy's health club:

Comments: Cute idea, but it did not get developed in the Silver Age after this; Guy Gardner popped up in a Green Lantern/Green Arrow issue and then basically disappeared until the mid-1970s. But he would become a major character in his own right, with his personality more like the cover of this issue than the ending.