Friday, October 27, 2006

What is Guy saying? You make the call!

Okay everybody, I'm going to beautiful Bend, Oregon for a week or so for some much needed R&R. Don't be sad, I've left you with a fun Guy Gardner meme activity to work on in my absence!

What is Guy Gardner saying to Mr. Miracle in the panel above? He looks pretty psychotic, doesn't he? Mr. Miracle looks a bit like Kelsey Grammer in that picture - and he also looks pretty disgusted. I'm asking you, Dave's Long Box reader, to modify or add to the above panel in any way you see fit and post it on your own blog. Don't have a blog? Send me the picture and when I get back I will post the ones I like best.

There, that should keep you little scamps busy. No parties in the house while I'm gone, and don't mess with the equalizer on my stereo! See you soon!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gal Gardner

Not too long ago I wrote a post about Guy Gardner: Warrior #42, the wacky gender-bending issue where Guy becomes... can it be?... GAL Gardner!!!

It is a breathtakingly stupid comic that deserves mention here during Guy Gardner Week. Click on the title above and experience the magic.

The Essence of Guy

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Guy Gardner vs Airline Passenger


From Justice League America #33.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Guy Gardner vs Jim Shooter

Here’s one of my favorite Guy Gardner scenes from Legends, the all-star mini-series that occurred during the DC Renaissance of the mid-Eighties. I’ve been meaning to do a big ol’ post about Legends, which I absolutely adored as a youngster and still think fondly of, but for now we’ll just take a look at a scene from Legends #5, where Guy Gardner emasculates a villain who looks suspiciously like Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter (pictured below).

This scene works on two levels. 1) Guy talks shit and slaps a powerful villain around in a humiliating way, and that can’t be a bad thing. 2) Legends creators Len Wein, John Ostrander, and John Byrne mercilessly mock Marvel big shot Jim Shooter, the fanboy-made-good who was notorious for his freakish height, overbearing management style, and hubris.

I didn’t pick up on this the first time I read Legends, but a few years later I re-read the series and was like, “Holy cripes! Those cats are roasting the bejeezus out of Big Jim Shooter!” I actually said that, yes. I talk like that all the time.

The scene in question introduces Sunspot, a rampaging villain who brags about how he has attained “the ultimate power."

Take note Sunspot’s outfit and the glowing “sunspot” in the palm of his hand, a not-so-subtle visual reference to Star Brand, the flagship title of Marvel’s New Universe line of books. Shooter was one of the key architects of the New Universe, which set a number of superhero titles in a pre-conceived shared universe that was supposedly “the real world.” The new Universe shared the same fate of all just-add-water comic universes - it imploded, sucking a number of titles and careers into a black hole from which there was no escape.

Anyway, Guy shows up and immediately begins talking smack and insulting Shoo - er, Sunspot. He is the perfect hero for this scene – all the other DC characters would have been too nice about it.

“You have no idea what atrocities I committed to gain this power – and now that I have it nothing will ever take it from me!”

Snarky! From what I understand, Shooter’s tight editorial control and management style put him in constant conflict with a lot of Marvel’s top talent, and a number of them defected to DC. I don't know if Ostrander and Wein were part of that exodus or if personal conflict was the reason why superstar artist John Byrne left Marvel in the Eighties to do Man of Steel for DC, but there clearly seems to be no love lost here. I mean, if you go out of your way to mock someone by proxy in a comic book, you either love the guy and are just screwin' with him, or you hate him. I'm going with b) in this case.

Anyway, back to the book. Guy Gardner is Guy Gardner after all, so he gets a couple of digs in at his fellow Green Lanterns during the fight, who he considers poseurs and lightweights. He may have a point: could any other Green Lantern pull of a fabulous turtleneck like Guy does? Kilowog, maybe, but beyond that?

Guy punctures a hole in the side of the oil tanker that Sunspot is holding over his head, spraying the dude with black goo. Guy easily shrugs off Sunspot's attacks - he's clearly not taking the situation very seriously:

Despite Sunspot's statement to the contrary, Guy makes a fool out of him. Dangling helplessly from a lariat of green power with mud (or oil) on his face, Sunspot can only rave maniacally about his ultimate power and about creating a New Universe. Then Sunspot makes what we parents call a "bad choice": he attempts to free himself from Guy's power ring by blowing his foot off.

Jim Shooter blew his foot off! Har Har!

This whole scene is just as catty as hell, but I like it. I have nothing against Jim Shooter - he doesn't owe me money or anything - so I don't know if he's deserving of the four-color diss, but Ostrander, Wein, and Byrne manage to work their big F.U. into Legends #5 without disrupting the flow of the series. Like I said, when I first read it as a wee bairn I had no idea they were blasting Shooter.

I do think that if you are going to pick one comic book character for a dirty job like that, you gotta go with Guy Gardner. It could have been worse for Shooter - they could have gone with Lobo.

Friday, October 20, 2006

THE F#*% YEAH FILES #8: Batman flattens Guy Gardner

I loved Keith Giffen and J.M DeMatteis’s super-sitcom Justice League when it came out and I still love it. The series lost some steam after about a year or so, but man, those Kevin Maguire issues were golden. Maguire’s drawings of facial expressions really sold a lot of the gags in the book, and one of the characters he drew best was Guy Gardner.

Guy was a character that had been around since 1968 but hadn’t been used much since then. I learned from Chris Arndt and Wikipedia that at some point Guy sustained a head injury that damaged the part of the human brain that controls how much of an asshole you are, and Guy became cocky and brash and maybe a little bit crazy. DC took interest in Guy again in the Eighties and appeared in the original Crisis and then in the Legends mini-series - Guy’s stock was going up. Then Giffen and Co. recruited Guy for their relaunch of Justice League of America, where he served as team trouble maker. Guy was hilariously arrogant and boorish in Justice League, rubbing literally everyone the wrong way, including Batman.

Which brings us to today’s F#*% Yeah moment.

In Justice League #5, Guy Gardner goes seriously alpha male and demands that Batman put him in charge. Batman says no, but not in a nice way. This pisses Guy off.

Guy is violent and hot-headed so he decides to kick Batman’s ass. Guy is also an idiot, so he takes off his power ring – the so-called most powerful weapon in the universe – and charges Batman. He’s going to kick the Darknight Detective’s ass in a schoolyard way.

Or not.

OH, F#*% YEAH!!!

That is team management, Batman-style. If you challenge his authority he will lay you out. That is how he rolls. There’s no discussion, just sudden, overpowering violence. His fist – your face - problem solved. Seriously, if you cross Batman, you better bring a sleeping bag, ‘cause brother, you’re taking a nap. Bring some Pachincko balls, my friend, because Batman will take you down – down to Chinatown! Have some almond chicken with your knuckle sandwich, Gardner! He gets hit so hard that in the next panel, Chris Tucker leaps out of nowhere and screams: “You got knocked the fuck out!”

Batman hits Guy Gardner so damn hard that he spends the next couple issues laid out on the floor of League headquarters. When Batman hits you, you don’t go down for a few panels – you’re out of action for entire issues.

The best thing about the truncated fight scene between Guy and Batman is the reaction from their teammates:

So there you are: the legendary one-punch showdown between Guy Gardner and Batman. Not one of Guy’s finer hours, but definitely one of the high points of the Giffen/DeMatteis run.

Even cheerleaders from Iowa think so!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's Guy Gardner Week, poozers!

Recovering from painful dental procedure. Think my dentist was from Abu Ghraib.

Anyway, my head is full of pain and thoughts of Guy Gardner. Therefore, let's make this Guy Gardner "Week."

More soon. Oww...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

WARRIOR #34 DC Comics, 1995

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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lame-ass villains #15 - The Nuclear Family

"We're a happy family
We're a happy family
We're a happy family
Me mom and daddy"
-The Ramones

The Nuclear Family were a group of evil, stupid atomic-powered robots who fought Batman and The Outsiders. They were created by nuclear physicist/robotics expert Dr. Eric Shanner, who lost his family to the effects of radiation.
I guess Shanner forgot to wash his hands after he got off work at Los Alamos, because he gave his family a lethal dose of the Atomic Crud, which was pretty careless of him. Grief-stricken, the brilliant but hygienically challenged physicist did what any of us would do if we lost our entire family to radiation poisoning: he created creepy robotic replicas of his dead family. Oh, and he gave them all powers that replicated the effects of a nuclear blast. You know, to honor the memory of the deceased. Dr. Shanner also creates a replica of his younger self ("Dad") to interact with the rest of The Nuclear Family, which is weird. Plus, he creates a robotic version of the family dog. Shanner must have really loved that dog, although not enough to give the dog replicant an actual name - it is referred to as "Dog."
Batman and the Outsiders writer Mike Barr had a knack for creating stupid villains who were seemingly designed around their catchy names like The Nuclear Family, The Force of July, Masters of Disaster, Ghetto Blaster (no, really), and Agent Orange. The Nuclear Family represents the height of dumb villainy created solely as opponents for the second-string Outsiders. To my knowledge, they have never been used by any other writers on account of them being so damn stupid.
As you can see, The Nuclear Family are a caricature of the gee-whiz 1950's jet age whitebread American family and its uneasy balance between suburban domestic bliss and Cold War paranoia. A lot of the villains Barr created for Batman and The Outsiders were broadly satirical takes on American life (Duke of Oil, anyone?) and The Nuclear Family was no exception. I get the underlying metaphor of The Nuclear Family - it's not particularly subtle - but that doesn't mean I have to think they are cool.
Because they are not cool. The Nuclear Family are lame-ass villains and that's why they are here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

X-STATIX #24 Marvel Comics, 2004

X-Statix was one of Marvel’s strangest X-books. Originally X-Statix was a revamped X-Force from writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred, but they changed the name to the more appropriate X-Statix. Because really, this book is about as far from the macho X-Force pedigree as you can get. And if you don’t believe me, pick up X-Statix #24.

This issue is part of a larger storyline pitting the mod mutants of X-Statix against the stalwart Avengers in a globe-spanning hunt for pieces of Doop’s brain (I don’t have the energy to explain Doop, so check out this helpful Wikipedia entry).

In this issue, the invincible Iron Man battles X-Statix team leader Mr. Sensitive at the Church of the Naked Truth in France. The leader of the nudist sect has part of Doop’s brain, and is being manipulated by a beret-wearing French simian named, heh, Surrender Monkey. Nothing like a cheap shot at the French, eh?

Anyway, Iron Man and the aptly named Mr. Sensitive are duking it out when the cult leader puts the kibosh on the fisticuffs, pronto:

Yes. Yes, they must fight naked.

Thus begins one of the funniest and most homo-erotic fight scenes I have ever read in a non-Chris Claremont comic book.

I don’t even know what to say. I think I will just let the panels speak for themselves.

I like to think that in 2004, some kid in Idaho received a copy of X-Statix #24. Maybe his dad got him a handful of X-Men comics to keep him occupied during the road trip to Grandma’s house in Yakima and this issue made it into the pile. After finishing Wolverine, the kid moves on to X-Statix –

- and his pubescent brain explodes.

“What the--? There are naked people in this comic! Iron Man gets naked and fights this Mr. Sensitive guy. And they’re rolling around on the grass, moaning and sweating and stuff. Why is Iron Man naked? Should I tell Dad? NO! No, I’ll just keep quiet and… and I’ll read this again later at Gram Gram’s. Alone. Why is Iron Man naked? Should I like this? It’s got naked people in it. Why is Iron Man naked?”

Sure, comics aren’t just for kids, but kids read comics, and it amuses me to think of some youngster reading X-Statix #24 and just freaking the hell out. I've always enjoyed Mike Allred's work - Madman was genius - and Peter Milligan has written some great stuff. They make a good team, and produced a book that was funny, entertaining, and a little bit subversive.

Because really - that’s what comics are all about.

Oh, yeah. That kid from Idaho is totally gay now.

Friday, October 06, 2006


OK, enough hiatus. We will return to regularly scheduled posts on Monday. Here's a few more pages from my European travel journal thing to annoy you.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Still on hiatus, still working on special project. Instead of my WWII sketchbook, I thought I would scan some pages from the illustrated journal I kept during a European vacation back in the go-go Nineties.

(That's a drawing of my wife, above. She wasn't my wife at the time.)

A handful of my buddies and I flew over to Paris to attend the wedding of two of my favorite people in the whole world. We hung out and partied in Paris before and after the wedding in the rose garden of the Bagatelle, and then we went up to Amsterdam for a while.

After that, we all went our different ways and I began a two-week solo backpacking adventure across Europe with only my wits, good looks, and a 5x7 hardback journal to keep me company. It was one of those adventure-of-a-lifetime deals, greatly enhanced by my little comic book journal.

Anyway, here are some pages from Young Dave's journal.