Warrior #24 is macho as hell.
It’s a pro-wrestling match mixed with a Sam Peckinpah movie. Much like an Arnold or Stallone movie from the Eighties, this comic is so self-consciously macho that it’s almost campy – kind of like the biker guy in The Village People.
A little background: Guy Gardner was originally a two-fisted loudmouth Green Lantern whose personality was famously defined during the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run as a psychotic, self-absorbed right wing asshole with a Three Stooges haircut. He was popular enough to star in his own book, Guy Gardner.
Guy was always more entertaining in a team dynamic where he could interact with a bunch of “normal” heroes who reacted in horror, contempt and frustration at his asshole-ish ways. At some point in the title DC did a mid-series relaunch, and Guy Gardner became Guy Gardner: Warrior, a wily ex-Green Lantern with an excess of testosterone and an urge to layeth the smacketh down. As envisioned by writer Beau Smith, the Toughest Sumbitch in Comics, Guy morphed from a satire of redneck heroes to a straight-up two-fisted redneck hero sandwich, hold the irony.
Bah, that Green Lantern stuff was for sissies anyway. The updated version of Guy traded in his power ring and smirk for a steely glare and some crazy alien powers that enabled him to turn his body into various handy bits of weaponry. You know – arms turn into Gatling guns, missiles sprout out of his shoulders, penis turns into a giant high-speed drill… Sorry, that last bit wasn’t true, I was just checking to see if you were paying attention and get some extra Google traffic.
I can’t really diss Beau Smith’s run on the book. Beau hit what he was aiming at, that’s for sure. I think the book could have used a wry, self-aware sense of humor to help wash down all the manliness, but Warrior serves up its macho fisticuffs straight. This is not to say that there isn’t any humor in Warrior, it’s just that Beau had a certain reverence for Guy that was a little jarring considering the history of the character.
For instance, in Warrior, nearly all of the other heroes in the DC Universe respect Guy Gardner for the manly bad-ass that he is. They all attend the grand opening of Guy’s bar, which is a sort of superhero watering hole. None of the characters seem to remember what a total cock Guy was during his tenure in the League. You get the impression that Beau Smith couldn’t stand the idea of those pansies Giffen and DeMatteis crapping all over his character – goddamn liberals! – and he just pretended that those JLA stories never happened.
Take Warrior #34. This is the finale of a 7-part crossover space epic where Gardner leads the heroes of the Justice League (the butch ones, anyway) in battle against the Tormock space empire. It’s The Wild Bunch in space, only all the heroes come out of this Last Stand alive. Hope I’m not spoiling anything. In the last showdown, Guy teams up with Hawkman, Lobo, Wonder Woman, and a guy called The Bad One. I’m serious – that’s his name: The Bad One. Hawkman and Wonder Woman have apparently forgotten what a jerk Guy is and let him lead them into battle.
And what a battle it is. The handful of heroes are outnumbered by legions of bad guys and are attacked by a cadre of elite alien killers with names like Slabb and Treach. Fortunately for Guy, all the Justice League heroes who have issues with killing and destroying on a vast scale sit this one out.
Actually, I’m not sure if Wonder Woman (in her bike shorts phase) kills anybody, but she talks a good line of smack and brings the pain big time.
Hawkman, on the other hand, has no qualms about crushing heads with that big ass mace of his. I’m actually quite fond of the mid-Nineties Hawkman (Hawkman 6.2, I believe) and his costume – probably because I have an action figure of this version of the character.
Although this is Guy Gardner's book, all the guest stars get a chance to kick some ass and utter some macho dialogue. Lobo seems in his element here - meaning that he gets to kill people while talking about how cool he is.
I like artist Marc Campos's version of Lobo, particularly the way he draws The Main Man's absolutely massive, hairy arms. Look at those things! Is there a veterinarian in the house? Because those pythons are SICK!
Although his Lobo looks cool, I'm not so crazy about Campos's art in the rest of the book. The pages are crammed with so many stylized alien bad guys that sometimes it's hard to tell where one alien ends and the next begins. After a while it becomes a wash of overly-rendered lines that all meld together. Plus - and this is not a bad thing necessarily - Campos's characters all suffer from Saliva Strand Syndrome, that comic book malady that fills your mouth with gooey strands of saliva.
Here's Slabb, one of the super-aliens, after absorbing The Bad One. Check out the saliva on that guy!
Now there's a pleasant visual. I don't know about anybody else, but I'm in the mood for some extra lumpy tapiocha right about now.
I'm not even going to make fun of a character who calls himself The Bad One. It's a more appropriate nickname for a cheap 7-11 burrito than for a superhero. And can you really call yourself The Bad One if you have a top-knot pony tail? I guess in 1995 you could.
I have to admit that I kind of like Beau Smith's Warrior, in a guilty pleasure kind of way. It is unapologetically macho and violent, but is that a bad thing? I've always liked butch, bloody movies with gun-toting he-men and exploding helicopters, so I can't pretend that there isn't some value to the same kind of stories in comic books. There's room enough in the medium for guys like Beau Smith and Chuck Dixon to do their thing, and enjoyment of their work doesn't preclude enjoyment of say, Art Spiegelman or Chris Ware.
Sometimes you just want a little head-busting.