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!


Anonymous said...

That has and always will be awesome, but I do believe it's Chris Rock and not Tucker who proclaims:"you got knocked the fuck out" Or maybe my memory's failing me.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

That was one great moment, Blue Beatle wiping the tear from his eye is the icing on the cake.

I always liked Gardner in this mode and his boots were so big, they looked like superhero moonboots.

Johnny Bacardi said...

One punch!

20 years later, this still cracks me right the fuck up.

Steven Hardina said...

Definitely the best part of Meltzer's new JLofA was Maguire pencilling the scene in #0 where Bruce brags to Clark and Diana about that punch.

Mikey said...


The idea that JLA members are still tripping over Guy's supine body a couple of issues later sweetens the already sweet deal.

Anonymous said...

Classic stuff. Beetle and Booster were hilarious back then. Giffen and DeMatteis did all those unique little touches, like J'onn and his Oreos, and Kevin MacGuire did some of the best facial expressions in the business. Batman even made a funny once. I never liked that incarnation of Black Canary much, though--we used to call her Bland Canary in that horrible costume.

Looking back, it's a shame that time and DC didn't treat Beetle and Max better.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff, and that cheerleader is the icing on the sweet, sweet cake.

Edward Liu said...

My favorite bit of this sequence is the following panel, when they start the meeting and Black Canary has a thought balloon saying, "I missed it! I missed it! I missed it!" Who says thought balloons are useless?

Anonymous said...

I really don't see what's the big deal with this.
Batman punches a comic relief hothead character in a badly drawn panel and everyone gets so excited about the "great moment".
So what?


SallyP said...

It was with this precise moment in mind, that Geoff Johns had Ethan draw Guy so happy when Hal finally punches Batman in Rebirth.

I love Guy, but this still does make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

I believe this to be the GREATEST FIGHT SCENE OF ALL TIME in comics.

'Cause there's a buildup to this fight that begins almost at the start of the series. And then...

"ONE PUNCH!!!!!"

Fuck yeah, indeed.

Anonymous said...

You should just do a JLI week instead of only Guy.

Anonymous said...

I can'tget enough classic Guy Gardner. Here are my useless comments:

(1) I love that instead of "Pow!" or "Bam!," the sound that Batman's fist makes as it makes contact with Guy Gardner's face is "Bonk!"

(2) I'm with Ghostman--It's the Black Canary in the fishnets and leather jacket who rocks. All others are pale substitutes, including the chick from the short-lived "Birds of Prey" TV show.

(3) Anyone notice that Gardner wears what appears to be a turtle neck under his GL uniform? It's like his wardrobe is 1/3 GL, 1/3 biker, 1/3 Carl Sagan. Now I want to be Guy Gardner for Halloween.

(4) It is Maguire's use of facial expressions that sets him apart from inferior pencilers. He uses expressions beyond "I'm gonna kick your ass" and "Oh no, please don't kick my ass."

(5) If you don't see what the big deal is with the one-punch rumble, you are probably reading a different blog. Either that or you need to take yourself in to the brain mechanic and have that faulty sense of humor looked at before you blow a gasket.

Anonymous said...

I'm not using any humour, I'm reading a comic book blog that I appreciate and you'd better explain why I'm wrong possibly without insulting, because there's really no need.
Thank you.


Anonymous said...


Sadly, without having read the entire issue (or even the previous bunch of issues for that matter) this ONE PUNCH "fight" may be wasted on you.

Suffice it to say, that the tension that Guy had been infusing into the J.L. headquarters (and EVERYONE in it) was almost tangible.

We, as the readers, could TASTE and FEEL it.

Guy was a DICK.
Not just annoying, but a monstrous roadblock to unity.

So when it came down to a "fight" between Batman and Guy, everyone who read it was BLOWN the FUCK AWAY at it being so short and sweet.

Yes. The punch panel is poorly drawn.
It COULD have been so much better.

However, if you were reading Justic League at that time, it TRULY wouldn't have mattered if it was drawn with STICK FIGURES on the inside of a matchbook cover.

Everyone in this blog forum REMEMBERS it.
Recalls "LIVING" and "EXPERIENCING" the moment.
So to US, it is a sweet bit of halcyon comic-history.

If you (or anyone else) hadn't read the issues (possibly needing to have read it 20 years ago for the context, since the characters aren't 'quite' the same anymore) then the "IMPACT" may be lost on you.

Not your fault.

I remember loving it then.
Looking at it NOW, it falls a little flat.
But the MEMORY of reading it is what makes it great.

Sadly, Brad Meltzer screwed Batman's cool by having his brag about (and reenact the motions of) it, made it lose all the "invested excellence" to me.

But, others might not agree.


SallyP said...

I don't care what Didio thinks, this was my favorite incarnation of the Justice League. Did you ever see the part in JLQ where Guy is in sweet mode, and is trying to help Scott Free hook up his grill?
Naturally it keeps blowing up, and
hilarity ensues.

The Icon said...

Probably among my top 10 Justice League moments. Ever.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

Then Guy woke up and turned into a total pansy. Giffen was a genious.

Anonymous said...

Francesco, to echo what SanctumSanctorumComix said, context has a lot to do with appreciating that scene. Without having read the preceding issues, I can understand how it would be hard to appreciate the "Fuck Yeah!"-ness of it. But in context, that scene was the comic book equivalent of Indiana Jones facing the scimitar-waving dervish and just pulling his gun out and shooting him.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I never read Giffen & DeMatteis JLoA. I know the scene, but I wasn't there for it the first time. I'm always going to feel like Black Canary and wonder why I wasn't there.

That isn't why I felt like posting though. Dave, I almost hurt myself with the Smokey reference. OMFG I almost lost it. For the rest of my life I'm going to have that image stuck in my head. Thank you for that.


P.S. Unknown Soldier, yes it was Chris Tucker.

Anonymous said...

Francesco: I wasn't trying to be insulting to you. Just trying to be a smart-ass to the rest of the world. Sorry for the mis-communication, dude.

Others have explained the "so-what" so I won't go into that.

I personally think that the panel is panel. A full page splash/money shot of Batman extending his body and Guy reeling backwards as spittle flies from his open mouth would be more dramatic and artistic, but it wouldn't have been as funny a shot as the one we get--Batman's fist and Guy's nose bent out of whack in profile. And the "BONK" still slays me. In context, I think it's genius.

Anonymous said...

er ... that was supposed to say that the panel is "perfect" ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot guys, and accept my apologies if I seemed offensive/insulting/supponent, with my comment.

In fact, I admit that I should've considered the fact that I didn't read the previous issue, and so I don't fully knew the scenario in which that event happened.
Heck, I was roughly three years old when it was published.

But anyway, you see, I'm not the ordinary "bashing guy in the forum". If you explain me why it is so "f%&$k yeah", I'm ready to understand it.
However, to my defense I could say that there are some other "f%&$k yeah", that are immediately recognizable by everyone (DD emerging from the flames in Born Again), and some other that aren't.

Again, I'm sorry for any misunderstanding I may have caused.
See ya around, guys.


Diamondrock said...

As a resident of Japan I feel it is my duty to point out that Pachinko is a popular pasttime of the *Japanese* and has absolutely no connection to Chinatown, China, or the Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Giffen and Demattias worked this stuff perfectly. I just went back and re-read this stuff and the first 2 years of their run is just wonderful. It gets derailed a bit by Millenium in the middle and a bit later by Invasion, but overall its just wonderful.

And the thing is, its not all about the humor. People remember the funny, but the character development in those issues was great. Guy, Ice, Beetle, Booster and Fire were really the core of the series, and the characterization that Giffen, Demattias and MacGuire grew for these folks in those first few years was just wonderful.

It tapered off a bit after the first two years - the scripts got progressively more "funny" and less well-rounded. In fact, comparing it to a sitcom is just about perfect because that's what it felt like - the last few years of Cheers where everyone was there for the "funny" and forgot that the characters were what made the book/show.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely my all-time favorite moment from my favorite superhero book. They later ended up going a little too far with the slapstick, but for the first 25 issues or so, JL/JLI was an unbeatable combination of characterization, action, comedy, good art, hot babes, etc.....

Anybody else think that it was the ABSENCE of Superman and Wonder Woman (for the most part)that made this team so great?

Ron Dingleberry

Chris Arndt said...

Ironically this moment is something Beau Smith was going to harken back to in a future issue of Warrior when it was cancelled.

Since Guy was no longer a comic relief foil at that point in publishing, and select parts of Guy's more famous past continuity were up for use....

He was planning a moment where the two characters reconcile and even shake hands.

A gesture that Guy was maturing. Yeah, in a way I think Geoff Johns' Green Lantern Franchise (GJGLF) sucks.

rachelle said...

Thank-you for this hilarious commentary on this great moment. My friend and I were just IM-ing about how much we hate our manager, but then this really put it all in perspective. At least she doesn't lay us out with one punch when we disagree.

Love this:

Seriously, if you cross Batman, you better bring a sleeping bag, ‘cause brother, you’re taking a nap.

Ha! I look forward to more Guy.

Ken said...

Count me in as appreciating Giffen and DeMatteis's work on JLA in this period. In fact, DeMatteis is almost good enough here to earn forgiveness for the abomination he and Mark "I draw with my feet" Badger made of American Flagg!

Anonymous said...

Mark Badger?


We don't need no STINKING BADGERS!!!


Ken said...

Dear Larry,

Ham is going to sacrifice this post to make it stop snowing in Willoughby, Ohio. Or make it snow more--I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

Chris Arndt:
Since Guy was no longer a comic relief foil at that point in publishing, and select parts of Guy's more famous past continuity were up for use....

He was planning a moment where the two characters reconcile and even shake hands.

A gesture that Guy was maturing.

Just like Beau had Guy apologize to Superman for being a dick to him in the League, and then they shook hands. People always remember the comic relief/extreme violence Guy, but that wasn't the genuine Guy personality any more than the politically correct/complete wuss Guy was. They were his extremes, and one of the things Beau Smith set out to do when he took over the book was to explain A)Guy's radical personality shifts, and B)why the hell Guy had been in so many comas. (I read on online bio that said, "Guy has been in a coma more times than any comic book character ever.") Now I wasn't terribly thrilled by the eventual explanation for all of that--for those who are unfamiliar, it was all the actions of a villain named Dementor, whose origin was tied in with Guy's new Vuldarian powers--but at least Beau made an effort to retcon things in a way that explained existing continuity in a new way rather than just bend continuity over and roger it thoroughly.

I read an interview with Beau Smith the other day (all of this Guy stuff inspired me to do a little research), and according to him his original intent when he took over the book was to keep Guy powerless and just have him go on adventures with people like the Monster Hunters. But DC editorial wanted Guy to have superpowers and vetoed that idea. Of course it's all hearsay at this point, but to me that sounds believable on both sides. And considering that Guy Gardner sold 17,000 issues/month when Beau Smith took over, and 60K/month six months later, it may have been the right decision from a business standpoint. Sure, they aren't exactly X-Men numbers, but tripled sales are tripled sales.

Jamie Ott said...

Man, talk about synchronicity. I just found the JLI trade from a few years ago in a comic shop that collected 1-7 and read it just this weekend.

Great summation of why it is still lingers in everyone's head, P-TOR. I know for myself, I still laugh when I think of this issue.

The other moment was in a JLA Quarterly where Beetle and Booster try to get rid of a mouse.

And the genius of it is not so much the actual act of Batman punching Guy but everything that came after the punch. Beetle's wiping of his tears and Canary's constant lamentations for missing it are a big part of this.

But then there was the mouse. Because of this punch and the mouse that followed, Guy's character fundamentally change for a number of years...going from being a dick to a really sensitive and caring....Guy.

In restrospect, that was a hell of a punch.

And for all it's humor, the JLI was pretty dark as well. There were quite a number of deaths in that series...heck, in Biayla alone there were quite a few.

God, now I'm depressed. These characters really need to come back and kick some ass.


Chris Arndt said...

I never cared for the Vuldarian origin stuff but I originally thought that Guy's powers were clever: he instead of making stuff with a GL ring the stuff grew from his body.

I liked the Giffen/DeMatteis JL and they used Guy well, especially since even as a genuine dick, he would still, for the most part, obey Batman and acted like a genuine non-homicidal protagonist. The fact that he had some degree of genuine brain damage even made him a sympathetic character... or it should have often when they writer didn't include it...

Anonymous said...

I still consider the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI the best run of any comic I've read (at least among non-creator-owned stuff). I even like the later issues quite a bit. I own the whole thing in some form or another (maybe missing a quarterly or annual or two.)

This moment sums up the entire series. It wasn't about the plot, or even that much about the jokes- it was the characters.

BIG said...

Please follow up with Hal.

David O said...

"One punch! One punch!!"

Anonymous said...

Appalling information, Dave! Over on "Howling Curmudgeons" they are using "F@#!% Yeah!" as a stimulus for conversation. I thought it was with your blessing until somebody said "and what about that Thor issue with the...what's 'is guy...that Executioner dude...that is totally F***K Y***H!"

And everybody else said "Oh yeah, you're a genius, I forgot about that! So wicked!" And proceeded to discuss it like hyenas discuss jawbones.

Which is when I thought, hey, didn't we already talk about the awesomeness of this, and fully discuss this Asgardian shit, yo? Shouldn't these guys be properly informed that the awesomeness of this has already been cataloged, and even more, catalo90ed??

Well I leave it to you, Dave. Who will pwn who.

Please delete this comment if you feel it produces rancour in the blogowhatsit. But I just had to say, their inferior humor is an affront to me, and it has woken me from my Odin-Sleep, which ain't good. Lawdy lawdy, I'm gonna kick some Odin-ass 'cause of it. Or at least I'm gonna eat that box of chocolates I've been saving. Just like in that Thor issue where Thor becomes a girl.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you mean some other people on the blogosphere enjoy some of the same comics we do, and use some of the same figures of speech that we use in discussing them? Well, I guess we've got no choice but to get in some kind of blog feud with them, anonymous. Oh, wait--that would be totally fucking stupid. Never mind.

David Campbell said...

I can't agree with anonymous on this one. I think a lot of the terms or phrases I use are pretty common among certain demographics and the HC guys seem to have a pretty distinctive voice to me. I'm a fan of Howling Curmudgeons

Anonymous said...

I think "F#*% Yeah" might've been used a time or three after Team America: World Police came out, anonymous. Maybe you missed it. How about you quit trying to stir up trouble where there isn't any.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the love for the Giffen/DeMatteis run on the Justice League. I was 16 or so when they started, which strikes me a perfect age to enjoy that book.

I'd agree with the poster who said the real strength of those issues was characterization, even more than humor. Each member of the team played a distinct role in the group dynamic.

By the way, Giffen and DeMatteis put the band back together a couple of years ago with the "Formerly the Justice League" limited series. Great stuff for folks who grew up reading their 1980s work.

And I'm still ticked that Blue Beetle is dead.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, DC has utterly decimated most of the JLI. Only J'onn, Guy, Fire, and Scott Free remain at large and unchanged. Beetle, Booster, Rocket Red, Captain Atom, Ice, Silver Sorceress, Linda Strauss/Dr. Fate, Maxwell Lord, Sue Dibny...all gone or made into jokes. Anybody catch Bluejay tearing @#$% up over in the Superman comics? Watch it, little guy...Johns, Winick, or Didio might get ahold of you, and use you to kick off a lame mini-series with a climax that happens in another mini-series! Should've stayed out of sight, Jay.

It's really too bad. The JLA of the time and the JLE of the time had what I think of as some of the greatest super-team lineups ever.

JLA-J'onn, Fire, Ice, Beetle, Booster, Mister Miracle, Guy Gardner, with occassional appearances by Huntress, Dr. Fate, Batman, Big Barda, plus Oberon, Max Lord, and L-Ron for support.

JLE-Captain Atom, Animal Man, Rocket Red, Power Girl, Flash, Elongated Man, Metamorpho, with Sue Dibny and Catherine Cobert.

For some reasons, those lineups just CLICKED. Something about the mix of personalities and super-powers. Giffen, DeMatteis, and Jones did a bang-up job putting those teams together. Plus, the non-superhero characters got the spotlight sometimes, and were real team members, not just walk-on civiians there to get kidnapped, killed, and answer the phone. Few other comic writers realize that the non-superhero characters can really enhance a comic.

With Bluejay back, can Catherine Cobert be far behind? It would be cool to see her involved with Checkmate, or the Global Guardians.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why, when showing panels of that classic exchange, that THE MOST OFTEN QUOTED WORD (at least for a while) in comic book history wasn't shown--


This was Blue Beetle's response after saying "One punch?" several times, and trying so so SOOO hard NOT to laugh.

It's is precisely the sound of someone trying not to laugh at the moment they fail. It doesn't work for mad scientists or supervillians, for which the appropriate sounds is more precisely "Mwah-ha-ha!" :-)

Yet it was constantly misused for years, much like the "When you assume you make an ass out of u and me" quote from Odd Couple was. And THAT one isn't appropriate unless the assumption made an ass of at least two people. It also doesn't work if it's only spoken, you need a chalkboard for the illustration. But people just use it anytime they hear the word "assume" and wonder why nobody gets it.

Anonymous said...

Not to forget: When Guy awakes, he's even sweeter than Cap Marvel.

I almost had an orgasm reading that.

Anonymous said...

I always disliked Guy. Batman is the bomb. I have collected Batman since 1985. I loved watching Batman knock that nutbag out.

Anonymous said...

Apart from anything else, "One punch!" was the perfect antidote to the standard issue drawn-out 18-page inconclusive hero vs hero slugfest everyone was EXPECTING the Guy Gardener/Batman fight to be. It was a genuine innovation.

Mister Sinister said...

"You have messed w/ me for the last time. My ring will call my mother to come pick me up & i will right a VERY angry letter"


...and everyone is pissed they missed it.

Gardner went down like Cartman in the Canadian Christmas episode



the sound of Gardner crying after being punched by the Batman

Mister Sinister said...

Super-Buddies rules!

It has several hotties working w/ Blue Beetle II
Booster Gold
Guy Gardner
& Elongated Man

And they work at a Beelze-Burger!
Genius pure genius



The future version of Metamorpho w/ another unpronouncable name

Mister Sinister said...

Is Blue Beetle putting his suit on in that first panel he's in or doing a Cornholio impression backwards

no verif, bored

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